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Ocean Outdoor CMO Richard Malton: why the art of outdoor equals better advertising

Ocean Outdoor CMO Richard Malton talks to Top Voices about the art of outdoor and how the digital Out of Home medium is stretching the frontiers of advertising.

TV: First of all, The Art Of Outdoor is a signature of Ocean Outdoor but what does it really mean?

RM: It was a clarion call to both ourselves (the turn-around management team) and the industry when we launched Ocean to market 12 years ago.

The core brand proposition ‘The Art Of Outdoor’ was about understanding the role that the emerging DOOH platform could play in the media landscape. We saw Ocean as curators of a commercial art gallery, with our digital screens providing the most amazing iconic canvases.

It was based on a view that OOH was undervalued in the advertising chain and we were passionate about bringing a high quality digital product to the market that would return OOH back to the art form it was previously so famous for.

I absolutely believe that Ocean is an advertising business above a pure media business and this is really important.

Naturally our starting point is a fantastic media offer, the best product in fantastic destinations and places. But, we deliver multiple touch points for our customers, we drive creativity, technology, consumer insight and encourage our teams to think expansively.

The Art of Outdoor is fundamentally about delivering quality advertising for our clients and partners, quality is THE key pillar at Ocean. It is a mindset as well as a brand proposition and it’s what makes Ocean and the Ocean team different.

TV: We’ll turn to immersive DOOH formats in a minute but first, Out Of Home locations are power tools in their own right but research is now showing that the combination of premium locations and great creative lead to value across the wider media landscape; social media becomes a branding platform and earned media opportunities increase. What is your take on this?

RM: I’ve been around the block long enough to identify the emperor’s new clothes syndrome and yes DOOH is an absolute power tool. It’s more relevant than it ever has been.

Without doubt many advertising channels have been decimated by the digital revolution – OOH is one of the very few that has been enhanced. DOOH can now hold a position in many different communication channels, we are now clearly in the all-screen market, the digitization of OOH has enhanced the medium beyond belief.

Space Invaders, Google & Taito – Ocean Outdoor Group – DeepScreen and AR – July 2023 from Ocean Outdoor on Vimeo.

But the point that we as an industry still need to ram home, is that DOOH pretty much primes every single other media channel, enhances online activity, drives search and in addition creates brand fame. It’s this simple – If you don’t have DOOH on your schedule then the rest of your campaign will not perform as well. And Ocean’s super premium offer has been proven to deliver beyond standard DOOH.

However the point remains, get DOOH on your schedule and if you are a DOOH power user, investing over 15% of your budget in DOOH, then you should be expecting a good bonus from your boss because you will be smashing your KPI’s.

TV: Out Of Home has evolved to really be about connectivity where human interaction and other media channels can be linked to Out Of Home campaigns. ‘Look beyond the last click,’ is a saying that’s been around for quite some time. Is it fair to say that Out Of Home’s role on the attribution ladder is standing strong and should be credited much more than is the case?

RM: The whole last click thing goes back to the emperor’s new clothes syndrome again. For a channel to have positioned this as the single most important element of the advertising chain was one part genius and 99 parts disingenuous.

The whole advertising process was ignored and momentarily turned on its head – I fear advertising giants like David Ogilvy and Leo Burnett would be turning in their graves.

But time tells and I think we are in a period of rebalancing the whole advertising process focusing on the multi-faceted process.

You are absolutely correct, the standing of DOOH is strong in the attribution ladder, the right location, right moment in time, right mindset are all key assets but not the only virtues of the DOOH channel.

TV: 3D, anamorphic immersive DOOH creative has taken the world by storm. Your thoughts on why that is and what it means for brands?

RM: Better advertising, simple as that. I think it’s the most significant creative advance in OOH in the last 100 years. It’s really that good. Not only does it make more impactful advertising, consumers spend more time with it and, increasingly important, they share it.

By creating a DeepScreen campaign you are killing two birds with one stone as it creates memes to be shared well beyond the original delivery screen. It’s creative priming and ultimately cost effective creative work.

TV: Programmatic trading is on the rise. Is that the sole future or should it be perceived as another efficient way of buying that adds to the buying process?

RM: It’s part of the wonderful tapestry of DOOH. Automation is without doubt another benefit of the channel.

One thing that we believe in is that truly great DOOH campaigns are planned on the street. Nothing will ever beat experiencing how the product engages with consumers, doing a site tour, experiencing the environment, feeling the nuances of each screen and location.

A fundamental belief that not all impacts are equal and that’s why Ocean customers Ask For it by name.

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