While they may seem like a fancy of the future, and something reminiscent from episodes of Star Trek, holograms are here, and they seem to be the new buzzword when it comes to advertising in international markets.
While hologram advertising is still fairly new to the South African market, more and more brands are being pulled towards this type of technology to showcase their offerings.
In the out of home arena, holograms deliver an attention-grabbing solution, which wows people due to their unfamiliarity and ‘coolness’ factor.
Holograms, although spoken of as all the same thing, actually come in a vast array of different tech types and designs.
“Most of the technology is not truly hologram technology but is projection or LED-based and merely marketed as such,” comments Alasdair Muller, group sales director at The Media Factory.
Muller reveals that the most common application, at present, are holograms at point of sale. These are typically three- and four-sided LCD-based holographic displays where products appear to be floating within a chamber or prism. While they offer full HD quality resolution, with the content being very easy to change, size is an issue as currently the hologram displays are very small.
On a larger scale, for use at events and activations, there are several options available. These include 3D holographic mesh, 3D holographic staging, fog screening (the only hologram technology that allows people to walk through it) and holographic projection onto glass or acrylic Perspex using a holographic projection.
While size is a major benefit of all of the above options, with some able to accommodate 5m by 3m displays, the ambient lighting needs to be carefully considered and double checked, because if it is incorrect it will massively affect the viewability of the holograms.
The most recent entrant into the South African market is LED fan-based holograms. These were invented by Kino-mo, an award-winning British company that develops hi-tech visual solutions. It originated from a start-up that was backed by investors Mark Cuban and Sir Richard Branson.
“LED fans allow for small or large format displays and allow for many types of application. Point of sale, or wall mounted and this is the technology that has got the industry excited again about the prospect of hologram advertising,” notes Muller.
The Media Factory is the leading supplier of LED fan-based advertising in the country, as the brand is a sub-partner with Kin-mo.
A growing uptake in South Africa
While holographic advertising is more prevalent in international markets, there has been a steady uptake locally, with expectations that it will boom in the near future.
Shaun Segers, managing director at Midnight Monkey (a design agency that offers holographic advertising solutions), says, “The South African market is finally starting to accept the technology as a go to when planning their marketing campaigns. We have seen a dramatic rise in requests in both point of sale as well as expos for our hologram technologies.” He believes the costs associated with this type of advertising are “quite cheap when compared to more traditional OOH mediums”.
However, Muller disagrees, citing availability, application, execution, scalability and cost as some of the hindrances.
He adds, “Advertisers are looking for innovative ideas and opportunities, but they still need to be cost effective and flexible in application, which is where hologram technology has struggled to keep up with the growth of LED, which is in any ways more flexible, easier to scale up and becoming more cost effective.
“The question that has always needed to be answered in the hologram space is, “How do we scale it up to make it a viable advertising opportunity for advertisers on a large scale and competitive price point?” … There are different applications for Hologram technology which can drastically change the costs associated with it. But it can be an expensive option if you are going with the large format stage projections.”
But there is big news looming on the horizon from The Media Factory. The company currently has 50 locations around the country utilising LED fans, and it will imminently be launching the first ever large format hologram advertising network in South Africa.
“The Pulse Hologram Network is certainly going to announce holograms to the market and blow the minds of consumers,” says Muller.
Why holograms are so attractive
Consumers have become harder to reach over the last couple of years, says Segers. “Holograms are so different you are almost guaranteed that consumers will notice not just the technology, but also the content within the hologram … You will captivate your consumer much more as the technology has still not been seen by many.”
Muller concurs, adding, “In today’s crowded digital advertising landscape, consumer attention is a much sought-after currency. Dwell time on ads according to Lumen’s research is on average 1.5 seconds on desktop, 1.25 seconds and mobile and 1.72 and 1.56 seconds on static OOH and digital OOH respectively. So the aim is to capture attention and to hold the viewer’s attention for as long as possible. Holograms certainly grab consumers’ attention and offer the ‘wow’ factor to advertisers.”
Constant research and development
The good news for advertisers is that holographic advertising, in its current form, will continue to evolve, adding new dimensions and elements to it. Muller points to future features such as the 3D content being more easily customisable, with sound, touchscreens and gesture control sensors as additional options to make content interactive, while Segers cites the incorporation of wi-fi, remotes, and app control as recent developments. He also sees the biggest development coming in the next few months as being the actual size of the units.
Transcending to other media types
It is not just in the OOH space where holograms are making waves. At the beginning of this year, hologram advertising was showcased as the latest technology in cinema advertising at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Seeing this, Cinemark became the first company to bring holographic advertising to cinema, launching the tech at several Ster-Kinekor outlets in 2018. In a statement, Cinemark said, “Hologram advertising has garnered strong interest from more creatively inclined clients and robust engagement from movie-goers in South Africa. The opportunities are endless as to how people experience hologram advertising at Ster-Kinekor sites because it is limited only by imagination.
“Hologram advertising is increasing becoming the medium of choice for brands globally. The benefits for consumers and advertisers is that it elevates product advertising and creates strong differentiation amidst the clutter in the retail technology space.”
Holographic advertising, and the possibilities it creates for brands to connect with consumers in an innovative, attention-grabbing way, will be one to watch very soon, with Segers believing that “holograms are going to be incorporated into most of, if not all OOH advertising campaigns in the near future”.
Follow Michael Bratt on Twitter @michaelbratt8