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TMCNet:  Beyond billboards

[June 23, 2014]

Beyond billboards

(City A.M. (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ONCE a relative backwater of the marketing landscape (compared to high-budget TV ads at least) the digital revolution is giving out-of-home (OOH) advertising a new lease of life. Static billboards and posters are being replaced with digital screens and moving images, increasingly able to interact with consumers through smartphones and tablets. The number of digital OOH screens is forecast to pass 113,000 in 2020, a 43 per cent increase over less than seven years.


As UK chief executive of the world's largest specialist OOH agency, Stuart Taylor is sitting at the centre of all this. He talks to City A.M. about how the industry is changing, and why multi-channel campaigns are key.

OOH isn't just about posters anymore. What's changing? Clearly static billboards are still at the core of the industry, and that won't change for a while. But we've seen some rapid developments on the digital side, including networks of connected screens. Not only do ads look amazing on these screens (because the reproduction is so good), we're increasingly able to alter the copy or content according to who is passing, any special events taking place, or even the weather.

What about the interaction between OOH and other media channels? How different media interact with one another has always been vital. Because consumers now have almost continuous access to the web on the move, OOH can be the prompt that stimulates a purchase or a visit to a website. You may see an OOH ad on the bus, and that could nudge you to do something about it immediately on your mobile. It's the connection to mobile activity that's really important.

OOH ads are often the last thing a consumer sees before making a purchase in the real world. It will always be effective for those brands wishing to impact shoppers. A lot of plans involve buying that poster or digital billboard outside Boots or Tesco, for instance - the last thing people see before they fill up the basket.

You've done some work on experiential campaigns and gamification. How much promise do these areas hold? It's very exciting. We know from neuropsychological research that positive experiences and interactions in the real world are more likely to enter the longterm memory, and generate positive brand associations. But these experiences have to be integrated into peoples' days seamlessly.

Last Thursday was Ladies' Day at Ascot, and we created an experiential campaign for Dove at Waterloo Station. The girls dressed up in their finery could have pictures taken in a dedicated experiential space on the station's concourse, and the images were live-streamed into an ad that ran across the screen next to the departures board - it's the longest screen in Europe. The experience of a brand is the best you can get before buying it.

What's the campaign you're most proud of ? It's hard to pick one campaign, but Vodafone stands out, since it includes a vast number of liveried black cabs, the Heathrow Express and many other aspects of the OOH environment.

I think it really adds to our urban landscape, seeing a fantastic creative from a confident, strong brand.

@LIAMWARDPROUD (c) 2014 City A.M.

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