Two of the most common questions out of home agencies face are: What is OOH? And why do you have specialist OOH media agencies? Answering the first question is quite easy , and provides some insight into answering the second question, writes Daniel Steyn.
OOH is most broadly understood as every time you encounter a brand outside of your home, media that isn’t typically TV, radio or print. Defining OOH according to where it operates and what formats it’s not, is helpful but still vague. Herein is a clue to the reason why specialist agencies exist in OOH.
OOH opportunity overload
The number and variety of opportunities available to advertisers to connect with OOH consumers is vast, and consequently not easy to describe with brevity. This is aggravated by the fact that the number of OOH opportunities available to advertisers has increased exponentially, as consumers spend a quarter more time OOH than a decade ago. This is further amplified and sustained by the rise in connected consumer mobility driven by smartphone adoption, increasingly accessible wifi and mobile broadband. In South Africa this global OOH trend is underpinned by rising urbanisation, long-overdue investment in public transport infrastructure and carrying a growing middle class of consumers with disposable income. New OOH opportunities targeting commuters have inevitably followed.
At Posterscope we work with over 500 specialist OOH media owners and service providers for the South African market alone. Naturally this number increases drastically when we work with our Sub-Saharan partners. Knowing who is reliable or reputable and what media is best to use where and when, comes from in-depth market knowledge and experience. This is an important differentiator for an agency specialising in OOH media.
While advertiser demand and suitable media opportunities are just the start, investing in OOH market research (such as Posterscope’s biannual national audit of billboards with Outdoor Auditors), consumer insight and staying up-to-date with the latest technology are essential to providing real value for advertisers. Our point of difference is that we better understand emerging technology and consumer behaviour when OOH and how the two combine to create new opportunities for advertisers.
Context is king
The opportunity alone is not enough to effectively engage with the OOH consumer because context is often the deciding factor in the successful use of OOH, Posterscope invests in detailed research specific to the OOH consumer.
Our Out-of-Home Consumer Survey (OCS) of over 100 000 respondents globally, and over 6 000 in South Africa, offers insight into consumers, their lifestyles, attitudes and their relationships with media and advertising. When a client approaches us with an OOH brief we know who their consumers are, their moods and mindsets, their media consumption and the best time and place to connect with them.
In practical terms this translates to hyper-localised OOH knowledge, specialist OOH planners and strategists who are immersed in the market, who know what opportunities to use and how to get the most return out of them for clients.
The importance of context to OOH is no surprise, rather it’s the channel’s main selling point: delivering the message directly and undiluted to the consumer. At a time and place when it’s most relevant and they’re most likely to engage but we all know that bringing the point of engagement closer to the point of consumption isn’t necessarily enough to get noticed, let alone influence consideration or purchase. OOH is often referred to as a channel that is “always on”, and the upside of this is constant opportunity to connect with consumers; but the downside is advertiser competition and clutter.
Keep the consumer switched on
A media channel that can’t be switched off may appeal to an advertiser but of more interest, or rather concern, should be the ability of the consumer to switch off when bombarded with messages and overwhelmed with advertising.
Despite advances in digital and mobile technology that have made the use of OOH as a gateway to deeper consumer engagement more effective and immediate, many of the same creative rules apply just as they did 50 years ago. Most notably, first impressions count, as well as the limited time advertisers have to attract and retain consumer attention. When done right, technology enhances the story – it doesn’t replace it. OOH offers advertisers tremendous creative scope, if you want to create noticeability and impact at scale with OOH, you need to make the most of this creative opportunity.
Recent research shows that creative execution is the second most significant factor influencing advertising profitability. In fact, it was found to have a profit multiplier of 12 – which means effective creative could deliver a ROI 12 times more than ineffective creative. This is second only to brand size, which is largely out of our control, and more important than budget or even target audience.
Successful creative and effective use of OOH can take many forms but a common denominator is recognising the consumer’s ability to switch off amidst the clutter. It does more than disrupt – it entertains, incorporates innovation, is contextually relevant, provides utility or value.
Specialist OOH agencies exist not only as a sign of the times but to assist advertisers when navigating a diverse, competitive, and constantly evolving media channel. Consumers are ever more elusive to connect with, as they spend more time away from traditional home based media channels, and enjoy more influence in determining what advertising reaches them. However, OOH creative and campaigns that benefit from strategic guidance based on extensive market knowledge, hyperlocal and detailed consumer insight are achievable and will be successful.
Daniel Steyn is an integrated OOH communications specialist and account director at Posterscope.
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