What is technology's role in out-of-home media?

By Nigel Clarkson and Rebecca Bainbridge, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 22 September 2011 08:00AM

Technological advances are shaping the development of out-of-home media, but the traditional poster still has its value, according to two industry experts

Clarkson... Bainbridge

Clarkson... Bainbridge

NIGEL CLARKSON SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR, PRIMESIGHT

- Increasingly, there are opportunities to interact with a traditional poster; what are some of the best examples?

Out-of-home now has a catalogue of really clever interactions with a poster. Cadbury's Creme Egg used a touchscreen game mechanic to "splat" the moving eggs on the screen; Lynx's "fallen angels" used augmented reality to picture the angels next to people as they waited on rail concourses. Mini did an award-winning campaign getting people to record videos of themselves in a booth to then be shown as though they were squashed into a Mini.

- How does the rise of the mobile create interaction opportunities for outdoor?

Outdoor is now the lead response medium in driving mobile search, and this will get more important as mobile online usage overtakes PC usage in 2013. We know that more than 65 per cent of search is driven by offline media and OOH is best placed to drive mobile search.

- Is interest being driven by the consumer or the technology?

Definitely the technology at the moment, but that's true of a lot of new media innovations.

Most of the OOH industry saw the "fallen angels" campaign on YouTube, not on the streets. These are all still one-offs rather than campaigns, though, so are more PR valuethan coverage-driven. There is also a cost of execution, as with all new innovations.

As prices fall and our learnings grow on the benefits of certain technology, so they will increase in number.

- Do clients compromise the visual impact of a good poster by seeking interactivity?

I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

A good, clear branding or call-to-action message is still best delivered in a paper poster site that isn't shared or competing with other brands for attention.

If the campaign requires more depth and interaction will benefit the brand and campaign, then it's a different type of message.

We shouldn't be thinking about "how do we make this digital", but "will this be any better as a digital interactive poster?". One key development will be the design of a universally recognised logo highlighting that a poster can interact.

- Is the power of a strong poster still relevant to most brands in a digital world?

A good, strong creative is key to any brand regardless of whether it is on paper or digital.

We have developed PrimeDesign, a neuro-visual study to quantify the likely success of poster creative and it is proving popular with clients already.

Paper posters aren't going to disappear; the majority of impacts in OOH are delivered by roadside posters, which are likely to be the last ones digitised on a mass scale.

- Will we see a Minority Report outdoor medium within ten years?

Innovations will only be viable in certain environments.

There is already face recognition software that recognises age, sex and mood, so a relevant ad message could be delivered as someone walks past. My prediction is that future handheld devices will act as our credit cards, our house and car keys.

Information stored on the devices will talk to poster sites to deliver relevant ad messages.

But remember that lots of posters will still require gluing to a billboard, and millions of people will still see these sites.

REBECCA BAINBRIDGE HEAD OF FUEL, KINETIC

- Increasingly, there are opportunities to interact with a traditional poster; what are some of the best examples?

Interactive posters are extending the potential for out-of-home to engage audiences directly in different environments - something that is clearly moving up client and agency agendas. Foster's has just launched interactive touchscreen six-sheets in four UK cities. Here, users will see their face incorporated into the screen image and use the screen to change their hair and clothes to create the smart casual look, reflecting the current new brand, Foster's Gold. There are synergies and links with the TV campaign and Facebook.

- How does the rise of the mobile create interaction opportunities for outdoor?

We're not far off the majority carrying a smartphone. This means interactivity between smart device and OOH or digital screens is a national opportunity. Image recognition technology is already available, and the next generation of smartphones will be even more capable. The expected inclusion of near field communication creates the potential for instant downloads of location-relevant content and is set to facilitate lasting brand engagement.

- Is interest being driven by the consumer or the technology?

The answer is both, but Kinetic already has evidence of a desire among consumers to interact with the medium via their mobiles. Our report on the future of OOH media revealed more than half of consumers would be willing to download content from screens. While the adoption of QR codes has been relatively slow, it is familiarising people with the idea of interacting with advertising, which will help with the uptake of near field communication when it arrives. Consumers are also becoming used to trusting a broader range of content via social media. Our research found that the use of social media on the move is a significant behavioural trend and still growing.

- Do clients compromise the visual impact of a good poster by seeking interactivity?

The potency of OOH for brands lies in its reach and visual impact. Our analysis points to around a quarter of sites being digital by 2020 and a smaller proportion than that will be interactive. Interactivity adds a new dimension and, creatively, is proving to be a very visual, brand-orientated opportunity. We don't think creative teams will think of interactivity just in terms of keyboards and clicks, but in a far more experiential and physical way.

- Is the power of a strong poster still relevant to most brands in a digital world?

OOH will always be a broadcast medium that enables brands to reach consumers with high-impact campaigns and the importance of brand equity will not diminish. Technology is simply adding new layers of opportunity.

It's also clear that traditional posters directly influence our digital world.

- Will we see a Minority Report outdoor medium within ten years?

Absolutely not. The widespread deployment of screens capable of recognising individuals is very unlikely on any timescale. However, we expect increasing use of screens that can recognise consumer "types" through face recognition software. Digital and interactive posters will enhance environments and create highly engaging visual brand experiences, but people will only expect to interact with posters where it's relevant. An exciting prospect, nevertheless.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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