Despite the economic and political challenges we’re faced with seemingly daily, we expect 2018 to be a landmark year for many reasons. If one certain thing is uncertainty, this shouldn’t detract from the opportunity for businesses to use Out of Home like never before, all based on some significant inroads made in 2017 across technology, investment and use of data, which are set to strike a chord with the developments facing the wider media industry.
Digital OOH is not merely in the ascendancy as one of the last five years’ fastest-growing channels, but has now reached critical mass in terms of reach and revenue. The position is testament to extensive media owner investment, real delivery in terms of installing quality screens nationally, and that clients are adopting smarter thinking in using digital brand content to reach people with personal and relevant communications.
The year promises to be impacted by three major themes; how brands deal with uncertainty, the impact and wider integration of the digital OOH landscape, and the role technology has played in driving automation efficiencies.
Uncertainty, but a focus on the brand
As Brexit sentiment changes on a daily basis, despite the seemingly hard-wired timeline, brands and media channels must adapt to the new normal that defines consumers going into 2018. People have renewed power to effect change and will engage with brands that are relevant, brave and authentic. Those brands must overcome shorter attention spans and greater expectation; an opportunity for clarity and content, and a fight or flight scenario for brands in tougher economic conditions.
Recent work from the IPA highlights the importance and effectiveness of branding and how OOH remains well placed to deliver this across all formats. In 2018, values like trust, brand safety and familiarity will be crucial communication factors. OOH and digital OOH offer these elements better than many other digital media channels. With young audiences particularly most in need of brand reassurance, channels which reach large numbers of audiences – proven to correlate with profitability – are best placed to deliver in uncertain times.
A genuine digital channel
2017 saw the confirmation of OOH as a truly digital proposition. With reach exceeding 50 per cent, plus inroads made in accountability, quality and presence on a national scale, the roll out of truly national D6 networks marks a landmark change in the digital opportunity for brands using OOH. We are seeing reach, scale and activation realising the best in smarter OOH campaigns like Specsavers (below), Spotify and Channel 4 – all OOH award winners in 2017.
The launch of Piccadilly Live (below) best showcases the medium as a striking, creative branded content platform with few boundaries to delivering immediate, brand and data-led contextual communications. 2018 will see the impact of London Underground’s digital overhaul, the expanded use of technology-led networks like InLink and The Loop, plus new formats (particularly D48s, retail and city centre screens) driving stronger opportunities in new locations and environments. IPA evidence shows that digital OOH makes (and has made) brands twice as effective in terms of profit; new research by Ocean Outdoor shows a further 2.5x effect from full motion.
Content has found a natural home in digital OOH. With brands facing challenges in reaching and measuring the right audiences online, OOH manages to cross both traditional and digital functions in delivering trusted and integrated marketing communications that can amplify brand content and follow the consumer through mass scale and personalised targeting, whilst also incorporating data, measurement, and the essential trust and brand safety metrics needed in the uncertain times ahead.
Embracing the right technologies
OOH has now placed technology at its heart, making significant inroads into automation, API connectivity and data-led planning throughout 2017. Talon has embraced a digital and tech future through combining audience data with location and context capability across our planning and buying, through the integration of our Plato software with planning and buying processes and a data platform that allows us to integrate planning tools and data sources to deliver smarter campaigns.
Media owner initiatives ensure the industry enters 2018 with compliance, accountability and viewability all accessible, led by JCDecaux’s BranDO commitment. And by the middle of the year, five media owners will be in a positon to offer integrated automation through availability and connectivity to the planning and buying side.
This means 2018 will offer routes to automated trading, with specialists well placed to manage automated campaigns more efficiently, whilst ensuring reach, creative and location-based criteria are met to deliver true effectiveness.
Just as Route ensures we are measuring the audience, precision planning enables us to deliver smarter, integrated media campaigns that advocate the values of digital media whilst delivering broadcast reach, personalisation, context and activation at scale. This is the essential advantage digital OOH now provides to media planners.
Technology can also get to the heart of the best innovations, as consumer trends for generating a trusted experience can really bring brands closer to people by amplifying content, live streaming to connect younger audiences with authentic experiences and delivering excitement through unique augmented and virtual reality experiences.
Despite the challenges ahead, Out of Home continues to offer the best branding opportunities to drive trust and loyalty in an unedited environment. Braver brands will be integrating their content across many channels, utilising smart, personalised and location-based digital moments to reach audiences in a medium that is now fully embracing data, technology and creativity.
Nick Mawditt is managing partner of Talon Outdoor.
Talon Outdoor is a truly independent Out of Home media specialist and a significant player in the Out of Home agency sector with a focus on delivering smarter, creative, technology-led and integrated OOH communications.