Double Standards - 'Out-of-home and mobile will be great partners'

campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 24 May 2012 08:00AM

The oldest ad medium and one of the newest make unlikely bedfellows. But technology is bringing the best out of both, two outdoor specialists say.

Helen Keable commercial and communications director, Posterscope

Helen Keable commercial and communications director, Posterscope

GRANT BRANFOOT SALES DIRECTOR, OUTDOOR PLUS

- 2012 was predicted to be the year of the mobile. Have you witnessed an uplift in the link between outdoor and mobile engagement?

There has been an uplift in engagement by consumers but there is still lots of ground to cover and the reality is that it hasn't happened as fast as the industry might have liked. The future of the outdoor industry certainly lies with mobile/smart technology working by its side. At Outdoor Plus, we are considering and trialling a variety of extremely clever tech ideas that will provide greater two-way dialogue with consumers as well as enhanced measurability for outdoor.

- More advertisers are making use of the latest developments in technology, such as QR codes, near-field communication and augmented reality. In the context of outdoor, are consumers interacting with these enhanced opportunities as much as you would have expected?

All these opportunities for smarter, location-based communications are certainly great from whichever side you're standing - consumer, advertiser or media owner. But there is a learning curve here as this technology slowly gets accepted and understood in our society. Near-field communication will soon be seen much more widely in our communities - Wi-Fi and smartphones will become everything, acting as debit cards, driving licences etc. It's a true behemoth waiting in the wings. However, there's still fairly low awareness by many consumers. Working as a collective industry to consider best ways to apply and also to measure is the best move forward.

- Despite a rapid rise in smartphone penetration with UK consumers, isn't the cost of mobile technology for use in outdoor advertising still too great, preventing smarter, nationwide campaigns and engagement?

We are working with technology partners who recognise as we do that this is a long-term game. There's no point going for higher margins now and losing out in the future. QR codes have a reasonable entry cost and can be rolled out pretty simply. Augmented reality might be higher up the pecking order in terms of developer skills required but, again, the more demand there is, the more the price will come down. Regardless of cost, future technology can bring campaigns to life for greater engagement.

- It has been said that outdoor and mobile is still an emerging market with much testing to be done. How much are you encouraging advertisers to exploit mobile's key links with outdoor as the new dawn?

The key here is that we are in this for the long haul and this is an industry-wide initiative rather than a case of each of us going off down our own path. We're working hard with our industry partners as well as advertisers themselves to work out what the key requirement is for the future. Otherwise, it's simply a case of the technology leading the advertising without a focus. But there's no doubt at all that out-of-home and mobile will be great partners.

- Does mobile interaction with outdoor advertising offer greater measurability for the out-of-home sector and therefore greater opportunity for increased revenues in the future?

Outdoor is the oldest advertising medium and it has now joined hands with the newest in mobile. One of our other projects is looking to integrate smart Wi-Fi into our premium sites, and with all these come greater opportunity for consumer engagement and therefore greater measurability. With research saying how 50 per cent of consumers are now downloading promotions from posters to their mobile phones and smartphone penetration on the rise, we need to collectively work to deliver the right opportunities for advertisers and capitalise on this growth.

HELEN KEABLE COMMERCIAL AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, POSTERSCOPE

- 2012 was predicted to be the year of the mobile. Have you witnessed an uplift in the link between outdoor and mobile engagement?

Yes. On a technical level, eg. augmented reality, but also with clients who are increasingly including a digital call to action in their creative. See, for example, the latest Mini posters, which feature the phrase "Search Psychic Roadster" prominently. While, strictly speaking, we can't equate existence or ownership of technology with usage or adoption, we also know that 53 per cent of all UK mobiles are now smartphones and that your average consumer is spending considerably more of their time outdoor. But the crux of this is consumer expectation - people want to be able to do whatever they want, wherever they are, which is why the mobile and out-of-home connection works.

- More advertisers are making use of the latest developments in technology, such as QR codes, near-field communication and augmented reality. In the context of outdoor, are consumers interacting with these enhanced opportunities as much as you would have expected?

In some cases, they are; in others, less so. But our recent near-field communication research has shown generally positive attitudes towards those opportunities. From an advertising perspective, OOH has morphed from a one-dimensional, static channel to a fully interactive media ecosystem offering the consumer whatever variety of personalised content that tickles their fancy. Forward-thinking advertisers are beginning to capitalise on that and, if anything, it's consumer appetite that's driving it.

It may not be quite as slick a user-friendly process as we'd like (yet) but the early adopters are there, the stakeholders are committed and the momentum is gathering. It's only a matter of time before mobile/OOH interactions and transactions enter the mainstream.

- Despite a rapid rise in smartphone penetration with UK consumers, isn't the cost of mobile technology for use in outdoor advertising still too great, preventing smarter, nationwide campaigns and engagement?

No. The cost associated with most of these opportunities is negligible and the cost of prompting mobile action such as search or Facebook participation is zero. It's a minimal entry cost for direct consumer interaction that most advertisers appear to be comfortable paying.

- It has been said that outdoor and mobile is still an emerging market with much testing to be done. How much are you encouraging advertisers to exploit mobile's key links with outdoor as the new dawn?

Lots. Yes, it's an emerging market, but one emerging at a healthy pace. We pioneered the first NFC-enabled poster campaign for 20th Century Fox's X-Men First Class with JCDecaux, which allowed an instant connection to the movie trailer page and to its Facebook "like" page. Our research in partnership with Clear Channel into smartphone interaction was encouraging: of those who had interacted with an ad via their mobiles, 84 per cent said they enjoyed the experience and 36 per cent made a purchase on the back of it. Better still, a whopping 70 per cent of all interviewees cited NFC as a driver to purchase a smartphone next time round, after the demo.

- Does mobile interaction with outdoor advertising offer greater measurability for the out-of-home sector and therefore greater opportunity for increased revenues in the future?

Yes, to a degree. But, to date, the real value would seem to be from the experiential aspect. That said, we expect to see that change as the concept of mobile wallets takes off and the process becomes not only seamless but absolutely accountable. Whichever way we look at it, the growing importance of mobile is making OOH an ever-more crucial part of the comms mix.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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