Want to know how to create the best Out of Home Advertising Campaigns? Well the edge you've been missing might just be location data.
Read on to find out how OOH works, how location data improves OOH, and how you too can implement location data into you OOH campaigns to properly drive traffic and sales to your brand.
OOH advertising refers to any ads you see when you’re out and about in the real world. This can mean traditional billboards, posters and signs, but also murals, street furniture like bus shelters and benches, phone booth coverings, merchandise
All of these media forms count as OOH advertising, and they’re being applied in more innovative marketing contexts every day. As consumers, we spend 70% of our waking hours outside our homes, so it makes sense for advertisers to create campaigns which capitalise on our increasingly mobile lives.
With OOH advertising, there is the potential to put your brand on customers’ radar using virtually anything, anywhere, and anytime. Let’s look at why OOH is the only form of ad media which is actually growing, with predictions that the industry will be worth $33 billion by 2021, and what the components of a successful OOH campaign are.
"OOH is the only form of ad media which is actually growing, with predictions that the industry will be worth $33 billion by 2021."
The most common forms of OOH advertising are: static billboards, digital billboards, murals, transit posters, and merchandise. Let’s take a closer look at all of these.
Billboards are probably what spring to mind when we think about OOH advertising. That’s no coincidence: around 92% of ad displays in the US are static, with billboards and posters being the most popular ad medium.
"...around 92% of ad displays in the US are static..."
This scale is hugely attractive to an advertiser. Physical, printed ads are installed in locations which the company has ‘bought’, meaning their ad is shown for an extended period of time, depending on how long the billboard is being used for the campaign in question. Static locations work well for brands who don’t want to have their ad to be part of a rotation of other ads.
However, the cost of printing and installation means there is less campaign flexibility, longer lead times and sometimes higher production costs (although it’s worth noting that most static billboards print onto vinyl, not paper, which can be re-used once removed – something to bear in mind for both financial and ecological reasons).
"...DOOH is on the rise, with 16% growth year after year."
The alternative to static billboards? Go digital. A subsection of OOH, digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) refers to billboards and posters displayed on screens and kiosks, like the huge displays in Times Square, but also the smaller screens which display travel information at train stations and airports.
The scale digital displays offer is narrower than their static counterparts, but DOOH is on the rise, with 16% growth year after year. Part of DOOH’s appeal lies in its affordability: the production and installation costs are significantly lower than static ads. They can also be altered remotely as and when the brand likes, depending on the arrangement between the network owner, technology provider and CMS software schedule.
How exactly does this arrangement work?
There are 3 parties involved:
- Network owners who own and/or operate a network of displays, which they’ve either bought or erected themselves. The network can be as expansive or restricted as necessary, and owners may base their network around specific locations, like airports or universities nationwide.
- Technology providers create the necessary hardware for DOOH. These include displays, media players, mounts and kiosks.
- CMS software manages the content schedule displayed on the screen, which is normally rotated according to 10 second ‘spots’. There are around 8 spots per digital billboard, which are mostly sold on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis. They can be bought programmatically according to the brand’s budget, where the brand doesn’t target a specific billboard, or more like static billboards, where the brand chooses certain billboards it wants to use.
The exposure DOOH ads can achieve often depends on a company’s willingness to buy more spots or expand their billboard network.
Some brands opt for the reliability of permanently installed static billboards. However, digital billboards have smarter capabilities: they can change according to the weather and temperature, or the time of day, called ‘day parting’.
Day parting is useful for smarter, audience-based advertising – for example, to advertise a coffee brand in the morning, then a takeaway restaurant in the evening. DOOH can also have interactive capability, such as Clarins’ use of touchscreen displays to offer users QR discount codes.
Murals can make the boldest visual statement possible, and turn advertising to a form of art.
They’re great at generating conversation around your brand, with a recent example being when Netflix announced the release date for season two of their hit series ‘Sex Education’ with a huge mural painted on a wall in Shoreditch, London. Their ad attracted worldwide attention, showing that an isolated but unique piece can have a huge impact on brand exposure.
"...in the USA alone there are over a million OOH bus displays being shown to the public every day."
Take the ad right to the customer! Transit ads are the posters we see on the sides of buses and trucks, or, increasingly the screens in taxis and planes.
Public transport ads can reach over vast areas in a single day, and in the USA alone there are over a million OOH bus displays being shown to the public every day.
The rise of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft goes hand in hand with OOH. The beauty of having posters and screens inside the vehicle? You can be sure that prospective customers will be exposed to them for a longer period of time.
These kinds of OOH advertising are especially common at sports events, concerts and cinemas.
Brands can collaborate with venues to have their ads displayed not just on billboards (both static and digital) at the event, but also on the food packaging and paraphernalia on sale there. The consumer then possesses a physical memento of the brand which sponsored their favourite sports team or movie.
This list of OOH ad media is by no means exhaustive, but is intended to show the range of opportunities OOH brings for advertisers to really get creative.
A large part of deciding which media is best for a campaign is dependent on the budget the advertiser has to work with. But what about other factors? The main one being: how do you decide where to locate your OOH ads to get the most out of them?
Let’s return to the Netflix example. Why did they decide to paint their mural in Shoreditch? It’s likely because Brick Lane Market is at the heart of Shoreditch, and the Market is a point of interest (POI) for young, trendy, affluent people – exactly the audience ‘Sex Education’ is aimed at. So the effective OOH advertiser would consult both POI (point-of-interest) and demographic data to see where certain kinds of people are likely to visit most.
"the effective OOH advertiser would consult both POI (point-of-interest) and demographic data to see where certain kinds of people are likely to visit most."
Common POIs include airports, malls, train stations, concert halls, sports arena. These are locations which, regardless of the demographic your ad is aimed at, will be exposed to a lot of people purely because there’s so much footfall traffic there.
Unfortunately, these are exactly the locations which advertisers tend to compete for, meaning the cost of putting ads here can be high, and, if there’s an ad on every wall, bench, screen and napkin, not really that effective at grabbing attention. So the advertiser has to be selective and smart when it comes to choosing where to put their OOH ads.
How can they do this? Well, where an OOH campaign can really be transformed is when the advertiser takes advantage of external location data. The marketing and advertising strategies made possible with location data are endless, and OOH advertising is no exception:
"...where an OOH campaign can really be transformed is when the advertiser takes advantage of external location data."
Location data can show you trends in footfall, such as which locations are popular, and how this changes over time. From this, you can create ‘heatmaps’ showing where the best locations for OOH ad campaigns are.
You can create additional heatmaps based on the peak day or time of day for footfall, and maximise the exposure of your campaign. Day parting comes into play here, as you can purchase fewer spots on digital billboards which will be displayed at the optimum times.
This is of particular use if you’re running a multi-channel ad campaign. Being able to analyse how devices like smartphones or smart watches move in relation to the OOH media they’re exposed to can allow you to see which media forms are most successful and where the optimum location for them is.
This can be done by looking at which devices that saw the media ended up being used to make an online purchase. The analysis might show you that customers respond best to the dynamic aspect of digital billboards over static. From there, you could decide that DOOH is more cost-effective, even though the cost of installation is higher.
Attribution becomes even more transparent when the customer is invited to engage with the OOH ad. Every time a customer engages with the unique QR code, URL, promo code or phone number displayed in the outside world, you’ll be able to see which locations correspond to online activity and calculate conversions based on this.
Here, you’ll use your footfall analysis heatmaps and OOH analytics in conjunction. A huge benefit of using digital ads over traditional ones is that you can adjust them as you go along, or ‘in-flight’.
These adjustments can be made based on the results of A/B testing to see which approach generates more lift. Again, this is why DOOH is increasing in popularity – it’s a lot easier to tweak a digital campaign remotely and programmatically than it is to go and physically replace static billboards.
An O-D Study can show you long-term patterns about how people travel, which is good for the OOH advertiser to know, considering that 38% ofcommuters feel that digital billboards actively make their journey more interesting.
"...38% of commuters feel that digital billboards actively make their journey more interesting."
O-D studies rely on GPS, and is also used in road and infrastructure planning. Knowing where people travel to and from, you can place billboards and visuals along popular commuter routes and where the flow of traffic is most heavy.
You can draw a radius around your OOH campaign and track the click through rate of customers who arrive on your platform.
The results can be compared to site visits and conversions generated from digital ads, so you can see whether your OOH campaign is working or not in real-time.
If you’re looking to centre your OOH campaign around a specific time of year, or even a one-off event, location data can show you what the relationship is between audience visitation and the time of year/event being held.
This works especially well if you’re interested in OOH merchandise ads – if you’re advertising a new brand of beer, you want to know which festivals and trade fairs attract the most beer enthusiasts.
This data can also help you avoid any false trails: if your research suggests there’s a market for luxury ski wear, don’t assume that putting OOH ads near a mall in Wintertime is a smart move. It might be the case that affluent shoppers tend to visit the mall in Summer. Your audience can fluctuate seasonally in unexpected ways, so use location data to demystify consumer behaviour and proceed with your OOH ads accordingly.
There are other factors to consider to make sure your OOH campaign is as effective as it can be. You might look for locations with low TV consumption levels or social media membership, and deduce that an OOH campaign would work better in those places than online or TV ads. This brings us onto our next topic: what can OOH advertising achieve that online advertising can’t?
Although digital marketing is undoubtedly growing more advanced and diverse, this doesn’t mean that it’s the right model for every brand. It also isn’t an infallible solution to attracting consumer attention.
People who use the internet regularly often have adblockers installed, so pop-ups and push notifications can’t reach these devices. Even without adblockers, the digital marketplace is now so overcrowded with ads that lots of users have grown accustomed to simply ignoring them.
This helps to explain OOH advertising’s growth. It neither bombards its onlookers, nor can it be easily blocked out. In fact, a study in Cleveland, Ohio, revealed that 9 out of 10 travellers notice digital billboards and the advertising messages on them at least some of the time.
"9 out of 10 travellers notice digital billboards and the advertising messages on them at least some of the time."
A brand’s messages can be relayed in big, colourful ways using OOH, and it’s the only media which is universal – aside from online ads, radio ad efficacy can be fragmented depending on different wavelengths, or completely redundant if the listeners you’re targeting predominantly use sites like Spotify.
Similarly, TV ads are becoming less effective as more people use streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime over cable. OOH overcomes all of these technical issues, and, as a permanent fixture of a customer’s physical surroundings, are always available for someone to see.
Customers are also becoming more sceptical about claims made by online ads. In a survey of 1,200 US consumers, 69% of consumers said they trust OOH ads when making a purchase decision, but just 25% said they trust online pop-ups. This suggests that if you rely solely on pop-ups to advertise your brand, you risk alienating around three quarters of your audience.
"69% of consumers said they trust OOH ads when making a purchase decision, but just 25% said they trust online pop-ups."
So OOH offers constant exposure. Which companies are already utilising this? Is OOH better suited to some brand campaigns than others?
It’s no wonder that companies are turning to location data-enriched OOH. CEO of AdQuick, a digital billboard company, Matthew O’Connor, described OOH as ‘the last frontier of advertising, [it’s] a real world channel that can have a lot of tailwinds if we can bring these great modern technologies to it’.
"[OOH is] the last frontier of advertising, [it’s] a real world channel that can have a lot of tailwinds if we can bring these great modern technologies to it." — Matthew O'Connor, CEO of AdQuick.
It’s these technologies which have persuaded huge companies to make use of OOH formats in innovative ways, such as Apple’s ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign, which saw user-submitted photos displayed on billboards all over the world. McDonald’s, Amazon, Coca-Cola – all these companies make OOH a cornerstone of their ad campaigns.
But it’s not just these business kingpins who can benefit from OOH advertising. On the contrary, OOH ads are cost-effective for small businesses and start-ups looking to drive up brand awareness and their campaign ROI.
Static billboard rent can start from as little as £20 per day in the UK, and as OOH grows, billboard agencies like AdQuick are facing more competition, which is driving inventory prices down.
It’s also been pointed out that local businesses have a better understanding of cultural norms and quirks of the area, like regional dialects or customs, and that customers respond well to seeing these home comforts displayed on billboards. If you’re a small business and suspect this strategy might work for you, consider looking at demographic data to see what the needs and interests of your local audience are, and construct an OOH campaign around this.
However, OOH of course comes with its challenges, which can only be overcome with the correct understanding and approach.
There are two main things to be aware of with OOH advertising: it’s cost and potential regulation.
Cost – The cost of the hardware and software necessary for any OOH campaign still remains significant. With static forms, it’s the production, installation and replacement costs; with DOOH, it’s the upfront cost of setting up a screen.
For companies with a limited ad campaign budget, it’s maybe advisable that they start off with online ads, or ads on TV and radio, before committing to sustaining an OOH campaign.
Regulation – OOH can face more regulations than online ads depending on the jurisdiction the OOH ad falls into. Some local and national authorities have raised concerns about billboards distracting road users, and others have fought to ensure their area doesn’t become overrun with ads, hence the introduction of the Highway Beautification Act in the US. Violating these regulations can incur huge fines.
Keeping these challenges in mind, it’s also important to remember the edge OOH offers over online ads – less fraudulent, better exposure, and, with the right location data, the potential to reach millions of prospective customers.
Here’s what you need to consider with an OOH campaign:
So there you have how and why OOH is becoming the go-to solution for advertisers in 2020 – with location data being the secret ingredient to campaign success. There’s risk attached to any campaign you roll out. Make sure that you have location data on your side to get people talking about your brand and turn real-life interest into real-life sales.