Dominic Murray of Kinetic: how contextual digital Out of Home is rewiring the medium

The recent finding that revenue from digital screens now account for more than half of the value of Out of Home advertising confirms what people in the industry have felt for a while – digital is quickly transforming the medium.

At Kinetic we wanted to delve deeper into the shift towards digital in the medium, to find out how consumers were responding to these ever more visible digital screens and the content on them.

Our Alfresco Life research unit conducted a study of 1,000 UK adults, nationally representative in terms of age, gender and region, asking them how they felt about digital Out of Home (DOOH). The findings revealed an overwhelming sense positivity towards the increasing number of digital posters on our high streets and other public places – 74 per cent of respondents said they were “eye-catching,” while 66per cent regarded them as “engaging.”

Younger consumers, perhaps with their greater ease with digital technology, were demonstrably more excited by digital screens than those 45 years and over. Indeed, the panel research found that those between the ages of 18 – 44 years old were 20 per cent more likely to find the medium “engaging” and significantly more likely to label the medium as “forward-thinking.”

Why are people so interested in this tech now? One reason is the ability of digital screens to integrate contextual information like location, weather and time into the content displayed. Our study confirmed that such utility-led creative is most popular with consumers; 50 per cent of respondents said they would be interested in DOOH ads that are location specific, while 45 per cent were interested in being served ads with time-relevant content.

The challenge for creative teams is designing content for digital screens that uses contextual data in a relevant and appropriate way.

A recent campaign by MyTaxi is a good example of contextual insight used intelligently to meet a campaign aim. The on-demand black cab service understood that a major weakness of their main rival (guess who!) from a consumer point-of-view was price surges, and in response developed a Surge Predictor engine which could be used to attract consumers on the move. The Surge Predictor was created using an algorithm that drew on time, weather, location and local events data, and was leveraged to serve real-time creative at times when MyTaxi could offer a cheaper alternative to their competitor.

More than contextual capabilities however, digital Out of Home also offers advertisers the flexibility to create relevant, real-time content. Lynx used this capability to great effect when it collaborated with male suicide charity C.A.L.M to create the award-winning Bigger Issues campaign. The campaign juxtaposed headlines from main news and social feeds with the bigger issue of male suicide, which was failing to get the same traction online. Fresh, reactive headlines were published at two-hour intervals, in order to mimic the frequency at which a UK man takes his own life.

Perhaps most interestingly, our research found that the importance of this contextual content is amplified amongst younger audiences. Not only were those aged 18-44 years old 30 per cent more likely to find DOOH aesthetically pleasing, but nearly 70 per cent of younger consumers also believed that digital posters enhanced the environment around them.

It is clear that digital Out of Home’s ability to introduce additional creativity and utility to the surrounding environment is a driver of the medium’s appeal to younger, attractive consumers, and likely have a role to playing in spurring its commercial growth as well.

Dominic Murray is group creative account director at Kinetic Active.

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