Media: Double Standards - Does the future of OOH media rest with digital?

Admedia and Alive are both constantly on the hunt for ever more innovative ways to interact with out-of-home audiences.

GARRY LACE - MANAGING DIRECTOR, ADMEDIA

- What are your plans in terms of developing a digital screen business?

We have set ourselves three very clear criteria for assessing the timing of our entry into the digital marketplace. The affordability of the technology, a clear and lasting demand from our advertisers to use the medium and a clear understanding from the creative community that they have to use the medium differently. When these three converge, we'll be jumping in.

- How well have ad agencies/creatives grasped the creative opportunities offered by new developments in outdoor?

Not at all. For the past few years, creative agencies have trumpeted from the rooftops their so-called embracing of the creative digital age. They have now been given the perfect broadcast digital opportunity and yet still insist on putting the same old static images on digital sites. Unbelievable, but true.

- In terms of your offer, what's new for advertisers?

Experiential is currently more important to Admedia than digital. Since July, we've been developing a brand new offering in this area. Unlike most of our competitors, we can take the advertising that people see and give them experience of the brand through to the point of purchase. We are now using that combination to great effect to drive fantastic results for our clients.

- What's the most innovative campaign you've run this year?

We are about to present it to our agency partners and COI so I'd like to keep my powder dry.

- How vital is technology in helping to improve and advance the image of out-of-home advertising?

Incredibly important because innovation is everything. Equally important, though, is our ability as an industry to communicate to everyone the increasing number of people who are spending time out of home and, therefore, consuming our media more and more. The OOH industry will continue to thrive as a result of both of these exciting developments.

- What are the opportunities for digital in more dynamic environments (bars, shopping centres etc)?

Some work, some will work and others are nonsense. Anyone who believes that digital screens in the front-of-house bar area will ever work is on the wrong planet. If you're in a bar, you are either talking to a friend, watching the footie or chatting someone up. Nobody will ever watch an ad in that environment. Other venue types are perfect. Shopping centres - with their proximity to point-of-sale - are a very good example.

- Is it fair to say advances in digital screen technology are in danger of being overhyped?

Yes and no. Yes, because in a London-centric media world, people get a false impression of digital penetration across the UK at the moment. No, because it is bringing new advertisers into the market with a product that has unique and real benefits.

- What do you predict is the next big leap in technology that will drive growth in out of home?

Johnny Hornby will persuade the 3,000 taxi bike drivers he uses each week to put digital screens in the back of their helmets.

LISA ROKNY - CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, CBS OUTDOOR, ALIVE

- What are your plans in terms of developing a digital screen business?

We have focused on closed, premium environments such as the Tube and Westfield for the Alive networks. Because these are high dwell-time and 100 per cent pedestrian, we are able to offer huge creative scope at a time when the audience actively seeks to be informed and entertained. We have also ensured that we deliver a critical mass in terms of audience to justify real investment in the development and production of great creative ideas.

- How well have ad agencies/creatives grasped the creative opportunities offered by new developments in outdoor?

We have still only scratched the surface in terms of the potential. The onus is on us as the media owner to educate and excite the creative community on the possibilities for great ideas. It's for that reason that we have dedicated resources working with creative agencies to ensure advertisers get the maximum result.

- In terms of your offer, what's new for advertisers?

The Alive network is continually evolving and offering opportunities for advertisers to communicate with their audience in new ways. The most exciting current development is the screen system that we have launched within Westfield. This will deliver the display quality, creative scope and flexibility advertisers have embraced on the London Underground inside the most premium retail development in the UK.

- What's the most innovative campaign you've run this year?

Among the highlights have been live campaigns for British Airways and the Evening Standard. Perhaps the most innovative was the work we did with McCann Erickson for Intel which saw it publish web pages on to our screens in real-time, directly merging online and OOH content for the very first time.

- How vital is technology in helping to improve and advance the image of out-of-home advertising?

Digital developments grab the headlines but the image of OOH advertising has been steadily transforming across the board as massive investment has gone into improved display quality. That said, there's no doubt that the combination of cutting-edge technology and premium environments such as Westfield is a key factor in changing perceptions of the medium.

- What are the opportunities for digital in more dynamic environments (bars, shopping centres etc)?

Simply adding screens to an environment because you can does not necessarily create a compelling advertising opportunity. It's essential that the screens add value for the consumer in order that they are willing to engage in the first place. The opportunities are huge but only if the balance of environment, audience mindset and screen content is right.

- Is it fair to say advances in digital screen technology are in danger of being overhyped?

The easiest way to cut through the hype is with greater understanding of the medium. More research is required, such as the New Space for Advertisers study we carried out this year with UCL. It has proved that people enjoy watching advertising on our screens and given us some great insight into how we can adapt creative ideas.

- What do you predict is the next big leap in technology that will drive growth in out of home?

There's huge room for innovation with the technology we are already working with. As agencies become attuned to networks such as Alive's, I expect more campaigns to merge content across online, mobile and OOH screens with consumers able to interact across the platforms.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).