Out of Home continues to be one of the most popular advertising platforms, offering both instant stand-out and a sector that is proving to be both traditional, but also continually at the forefront of digital innovation.
According to Emma Newman, marketing director for Clear Channel, which is sponsoring the inaugural Creative Out of Home Awards, taking place in November, 2012 has so far been a year that has seen both exponential growth in the use of technology-enabled advertising, as well as it embracement by brands and agencies.
Indeed, digital outdoor revenue grew by over 400 percent between 2005 and 2011, according to research by the Outdoor Media Centre, with 2012’s revenue in the digital sector growing from 2011 by 27 percent, as media owners continued to invest, transforming sites in the best locations to digital. Digital now makes up 17 percent of the total revenue.
Already this year, Plan UK’s electronic hoarding which could establish the gender of the person reading it, in order to deliver a differing message, provoked headlines within the mainstream media, a rare feat for an outdoor advertisement.
However, the growth of smartphone ownership and the advent of Near Field Communications (NFC) has offered advertisers an even more powerful tool in which to engage with consumers through digital content.
A study, conducted by Clear Channel across the UK and USA earlier this year, including almost 1,000 online interviews with smartphone owners, found that 90 70 percent highlighted the importance of including NFC functionality on their next phone.
Over half (54 percent) also said that that using NFC technology to interact with posters would improve campaignsbe useful.
Respondents to the same research gave their main reasons for interacting with NFC-enabled posters as being the incentive to download special offers and vouchers, to receive local information or to compare prices. 57 percent also said that if they saw an OOH ad which interested them, then they would be likely to use NFC in order to make a purchase across multiple product categories.
“What is clear is that although NFC has broad awareness, consumers are seeking more detailed guidance on its potential, Newman said in reaction to the research findings about NFC.
Asked what else the emerging digital capacity of out-of-home is offering advertisers, Newman highlights the ability to develop ‘real-time messaging’ for advertisers as providing “flexibility” while also being able to drive “deeper engagement with their audiences and provide greater results.”
Further research by the Outdoor Media Centre has priced the total year expenditure in UK OOH advertising between June 2011 and May 2012 as £886.3m, with a 9.9 percent year on year increase in Quarter 2 to £229m, compared with £208m in 2011. These figures were undoubtedly boosted by the host of British events taking place this year; during the Diamond Jubilee, Euro Championships and, of course, the London Olympics as advertisers sought maximise their outreach through as many mediums as possible. But out-of-home advertising across all mediums, not just digital, is beginning to rise following a dip three years ago, when the UK first entered into recession.
Additionally, all major environments (transport, roadside, retail and leisure) were up year on year, as were all the major site types such as 6 sheets, 48 sheets, 96 sheets, buses, and taxis.
As out of home advertising revenue continues to rise, and brands increasingly look to work through both traditional and digital mediums, where does Newman see it going? She explains that the fundamental need of brands to engage with all of their target audience is fundamental to successful advertising. “A balanced approach of art and science coupled with using the right mix of digital and traditional formats remains at the heart of all great campaigns. From an innovation perspective, we are seeing state of the art content embracing the full repertoire of consumer interaction from body motion and facial recognition to QR and NFC codes.”
The top spending brands in OOH between June 2011 and May 2012 were found to be BSkyB, Vodafone, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, EverythingEverywhere, Warner Bros, GlaxoSmithKline, KFC and Universal Pictures and Unilever. All told, an additional £21 million flowed into outdoor across a wide variety of categories. In addition to outdoor’s traditional strength in entertainment brands, categories which grew included telecoms, drinks, food, business and industrial, household appliances, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, online retail, and fashion.
So what are these ‘top spenders’ asking for at the moment? Newman explains: “Building engaging relationships with their audience remains core. They know and understand their customers and want to ensure that their interactions are valuable. The ability to engage with their customers through interactivity to drive engagement is something that many of our customers are building in to their overall communications plans.”
So as the Creative OOH Awards fast approach, celebrating the creative work in digital and traditional out-of-home advertising, what does Newman hope to see? She said: “We’re expecting to see strong ideas brought to life through great creativity that deliver great results. They [the COOH Awards] will celebrate the great creative medium that is out-of-home.”
The nominations for the Creative OOH Awards are expected to be announced this week.