The future of OOH media, in South Africa and for our neighbours to the north, is digital and mobile. While some parts of the world are already living in this hyper connected media future, we’re now witnessing the transition of OOH from a passive to a connected medium. The appeal of OOH has always been contextual; the mobile phone has dramatically increased the opportunity for quality of location and relevant consumer engagement, but as the adage goes: crawl, walk, run. A continued appreciation for getting the fundamentals of OOH communication right will take your message far, even in the future.
The connected consumer and the OOH opportunity
In 2005 The Economist featured a special report entitled ‘Power at Last: How the internet means the consumer really is king (and queen)’. The cover art features a replicated image of a raised fist clutching a computer mouse, in a show of digitally connected solidarity and support for the no longer marginalised consumer. Ten years later the image already feels a little quaint. Today the consumer is more connected than ever before, due in no small part to the mass adoption of the mobile phone.
Our world is being transformed by technology, changing the way we behave, especially when we’re out of our homes. People don’t leave their digital connections or their phones at home. Instead they’re consuming and producing content, making and considering purchases, and sharing and connecting with social groups in new ways and places with increased immediacy. As a result of this, the key impact for marketers to consider is that the point of engagement is getting closer to the point of consumption. It can be in-store but not at the till, in the shopping centre but not in-store, at the beach, in a stadium or on the bus. Anywhere the consumer and their mobile phone is.
The connected consumer has more autonomy over their spending habits than ever before. They’re able to influence and decide how to pay, how much to pay, when to pay and where to pay. Rather than fight this, brands have the opportunity to reward and to learn from them. By investing in relevant consumer research; insight and advice from specialists in fields like mobile, social, and OOH; and the implementation of proactive CRM strategies – brands can derive value, by meeting connected consumers’ real time expectations and rewarding their loyalty.
We’re seeing the increased use and dominance of relatively new devices, like smartphones and tablets; new inter-device connections like ubiquitous Wi-Fi and mobile broadband, new ways of using familiar devices like TV viewership on demand and smartphone cameras. As a result of this, shared media has joined bought, owned and earned media in the connected consumer journey. The challenge for media owners, agencies and brands is how to integrate with established and traditional media, while maintaining their relevance. A new media ecosystem and a transformed consumer journey have emerged that reflect today’s hyper connectivity and demand for immediacy.
Connecting through OOH
To reach the connected consumer, OOH is effective as a gateway through which to drive deeper engagement with a call to action. The mobile phone is the default tool with which to answer this call. No matter how straightforward or sophisticated, literal or implied the call to action, it is important to make sure that it is well supported i.e. a phone number that is free to call and answered, an address or directions that are accurate, a website that is optimised for mobile and is visible when searched for.
The chosen call to action should be strategically relevant to the brand and campaign, contextually relevant to the media, and ultimately relevant to the target audience. Simple as it sounds, getting this wrong will severely limit the chances of engaging with the target audience; feature phone users will struggle with mobile search or social media, millennials are unlikely to call a phone number when they can use social media, and the main market are reluctant to use valuable airtime and data.
Increased connectivity and the ever present smartphone, now mean that this facilitation of deeper engagement is happening in real-time, for example a poster that invites the consumer to check in, share content, use a hashtag, or explore content via augmented reality. However, competing brand messages, real time expectations, and our busy lives now mean that any delay in responding to a call to action will lead to consumer engagement drop off – it needs to be relevant, of value and hassle free.
The OOH ecosystem that has developed around the connected consumer and their daily journey provides a multitude of opportunities to target audiences based on their location, time of day, state of mind, and current activity. The ability to communicate in real-time through networked digital screens, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband to deliver contextually relevant messaging that drives more immediate consideration, trial and purchase is a compelling reason for brands to invest in the success of their OOH. This success still starts with the basics.
Keep it simple
The principles for effectively connecting with consumers when OOH remains the same, irrespective of the type of format being used, are:
· Assume your audience is preoccupied with something else – they’re not waiting for you
· Time is limited – 6 to 8 seconds
· Copy that is short and to the point – 10 words or less
· Make it easy to read – sentence case NOT ALL CAPS
· Imagery that is striking and relevant – but not too busy
· Make the brand easily and instantly recognisable
The OOH consumer is typically on the move, in environments with multiple potential distractions. Effectively attracting and retaining attention, while delivering a message is a challenge. A key concession to this is spaces that offer increased dwell time, e.g. public transport systems, public spaces and notably in South African shopping centers. Dwell time allows the consumer eye and ear to wander, and makes them receptive to a more complex message. This is a great opportunity to incorporate mobile technology and to work with consumers’ increasingly default action of reaching for their phones given half a chance.
IMAGE: The Economist / Power at Last