Andrew Newman, chief executive of DOOH.com, reflects on some of the best innovation using dynamic data the digital out-of-home advertising industry has seen this year, arguably during its most difficult year, ahead of The Drum Out of Home Awards.
With brands wanting to remain in the public eye, non-essential retailers managing sporadic closures and essential retailers experiencing unprecedented footfall, this year has shaped the future of out-of-home more than any before. With an entirely different and unpredictable customer base, the out-of-home industry had to find unique ways to connect.
We all like our ‘media firsts’, but while many of this year's stand-out campaigns weren’t such, they used technology in a way that was a ‘first for our medium’. This, coupled with some newly developed dynamic capabilities, alongside the release of 5G, has seen out-of-home technology used in new ways to create memorable campaigns.
The most innovative digital out-of-home campaigns have delivered maximum impact, using data to factor in context and audience. From brands wanting to make a big statement and reconnect with consumers, to key workers being celebrated on-screen – this year out-of-home has been an ever-changing space, dynamically reflecting the world around.
In response to the pandemic, ‘MyHeroes‘ shone a spotlight on key workers across the UK and Ireland. A user-generated campaign that turned the out-of-home advertising channel into a targeted broadcast channel for good, to share messages of love and gratitude to the 14.5 million heroes who were out of their homes keeping us safe.
Handing out-of-home to the public and brands; ‘MyHeroes‘ gave them control of screens by calling for tweets, using #MyHeroes, nominating these heroes with their unique stories. As the people at home tweeting their thanks were on lockdown, ‘MyHeroes‘ closed the social media loop by instantly replying an artist's impression of the tweet in situ back to the person who tweeted.
The ability to generate this hero image, while not new, now offered a tangible point of contact to the audience of a user-generated campaign; ensuring they were connected to out-of-home while remaining at home.
Vodafone: London’s Best 5G
As the people began to emerge back into public spaces, so too did brands. With this campaign Vodafone achieved an UK out-of-home digital advertising first to celebrate being named best operator for 5G in London.
Vodafone painted the town red (literally) using newly developed technology Digital Roadblocks. As the Vodafone red-clad buses drove around the capital, they triggered out-of-home screens at key London landmarks, like Piccadilly Circus, lighting up all digital billboards within a 200m radius with their ads.
This technology uses Transport for London’s (TFL) GPS data to track where buses are and how long they will take to reach each stop, so smart advertising boards always know when the bus is two minutes away.
By marrying out-of-home to essential transport Vodafone ensured that as footfall reports varied immensely between formats, they were able make the most of the opportunity for public visibility – connecting to their audience in a way that delivered maximum impact.
O2: Bubl ‘Follow Me’
Designed to demonstrate to the public that O2 are there whenever they need them; Bubl forms part of O2’s new creative platform. This interactive campaign saw Bubl the robot sat on a bench on screen in Westfield’s East Street, looking around for shoppers.
When someone passed the screen, Bubl then captured their attention by following them. Once their attention was caught, they turned and pointed up at the campaign’s headline, and interacted with them through dance and other movements. The innovative execution built in Unity, used multi-player game technology to control Bubl’s actions.
Using this technology gave O2 a way to create a strong personal connection with their audience without the need for contact.
Škoda: SUV Launch
Connecting to returning shoppers in a pandemic-safe way, this contactless promotion by Škoda ran across malls in the UK. To launch its new range of Škoda SUVs the dynamic campaign allowed consumers to interact with screens in malls simply by gesturing their hands. Letting them explore the new cars, and book test drives.
To do this, a gesture-controlled user interface was incorporated into malls‘ live Interactive touch screens. Through this campaign, Škoda were able to reap the benefits of ‘hands on’ connection, piloting a technology that, going forward, is sure to become part of any interactive digital out-of-home campaign.
Coca Cola: This Coke is on us
QR codes have officially made a comeback - albeit out of necessity. It seems that following the use of QR codes for track and trace, and to replace menus in hospitality venues across the country, the pandemic has propelled the contactless technology of QR codes back into the spotlight. And now the world is ready...
In Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, ‘This Coke is on us‘ gave passers-by a QR code to scan for a free Coke at their nearest local. Not only did the campaign feature this interactive element, it used locational dynamics to call out nearby businesses, providing names and images.
By using the QR code on the street-level screens, Coca-Cola was able to create a simple way to interact with the public and drive foot traffic to businesses at a crucial time.
The power of out-of-home is in its public profile. While the medium may have seen a disrupted audience during the pandemic, its presence in the public mindset has grown stronger. Last month, The Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) reported 45% of adults say they’re noticing out-of-home ads more than before the pandemic began, while 68% said they’re tuning out of digital ads on their mobile devices due to screen fatigue.
These memorable campaigns that used technology in a way that was a ‘first for our medium’, in order to connect with our audience in a simple and effective way, have forged the future of out-of-home at this unique moment in time.