A view from Mungo Knott

OOH: brand building or activation?

OOH builds awareness, offers relevance and enhances trust, writes Mungo Knott, the marketing and insight director at Primesight.

In 1889, England (or more precisely Selly Oak) was leading the world in the development of mass communication brand building. Benjamin Baugh had patented processes for the production of enamel sheet iron and was expanding his advertising sign production plant.

Full order books for hundreds of thousands of signs over several decades are testimony to the value advertisers placed on this indelible media channel. Its legacy of effectiveness is evident in the brands of today – Bisto, Cadbury's, Pears, Raleigh and Aquascutum to name a few.

While the channel choice for marketers in 2016 is notably broader than that of their predecessors, the challenge to build brands and activate consumers is fundamentally unchanged as they seek to conjoin the key criteria of awareness, relevance and trust with their target audience.

Critically each of these elements relies on the strength of the others and the selected channel mix must therefore seek to develop all three.

As marketers address this mix, the siren call of technology and innovation is persuasive. Pressure on payback time forces a focus on shorter-term measurement of effect, favouring an instant online impression or click, and personalisation is perceived to equate to greater efficiency in investment, driving a burgeoning industry in the addressability of new media, including TV.

Both of these have their place but they can distract from the main objective of brand building.

Customers who are more likely to be valuable new purchasers of a growing brand are those who are already heavy purchasers within the brand category. They are likely to be a mass audience who already see relevance in the product line and have a lower inclination to loyalty, making them more easily encouraged to trial. Broadening this base to medium and light category buyers will require even wider reaching tactics, which will pay off in the longer term.

Customers who are more likely to be valuable new purchasers of a growing brand are those who are already heavy purchasers within the brand category.

Brand growth media strategies should therefore aim for reach, which ultimately will yield greater benefits than delivering excess frequency with smaller audiences.

This longer-term approach also requires consistent communication to counter the risk of not reinforcing or reminding those customers that have now been attracted to purchase; to once again re-buy.

Out-of-home is a uniquely positioned advertising channel, suited to meeting these imperatives. It offers 98% reach of UK adults and its public presence is specifically designed to raise mass awareness across a broad range of customers. Its presence on our regular and irregular travel delivers a frequency of impact that can deliver ongoing effective and lasting impressions particularly when enhanced with a powerful creative treatment.

Many clients make a consistent use of the medium as they continue building their brand, but some like SKY have also identified the activation strength of OOH. Forthcoming series or newly released boxed sets are promoted to heavy consumers of content as well as loyal customers and those with a lower purchase intent, thereby growing their customer base and on-going activity.

McDonalds, one of the world’s biggest brands, also understands the power of a strategically placed poster to drive impulse and repeat purchase.

This is because OOH also offers contextual relevance. Numerous studies have identified the effect of in-store sales increase as a result of exposure to out-of-home close to the point of purchase, activated because the momentary relevance of the advertisement creates an enhanced impression.

It has been identified that 40% of shoppers see out-of-home within the 30 mins "last window of influence" before purchase.

The technological enhancement that is bringing digital out-of-home across the country has rapidly progressed the opportunity for contextual targeting by bringing together not just location and audience but also timely creative. 10% increases in key metrics have been recorded as a result of the impression that is created when contextual creative is deployed.

Harnessing the core strengths of out-of-home with the very personalised medium of mobile can produce some excellent results. The latest study from Outsmart reported that those who see an Outdoor advertising campaign are 17% more likely to engage with the brand on their mobile.

Fifty-seven per cent of those who engaged are new or lapsed customers, underlining the medium’s ability to reach out and grow brand connections. In effect OOH has brought them to the new shop window of online interaction.

So there is good reason for brands to invest in a medium that builds awareness, offers relevance, amplifies the effect of more personalised execution and enhances trust. This was underlined by ICE Study from Carat Insight, which reported an average performance improvement of 13% where an integrated campaign included OOH.

Linked to this, the study also revealed that the two emotional connections delivered by OOH were relevance and trust.

A marketer may still have to determine whether the 60% Brand and 40% Activation split of their budget as indicated by Les Binet and Peter Field is appropriate for their category and themselves but they can be assured that OOH has a relevant part to play in either focus.

Although we have moved on from the world initiative of enamel sign advertising, the OOH medium continues to deserve consideration and will be building our brands of the future.

Mungo Knott is the marketing and insight director at Primesight