The Dynamic Transformation of DOOH

The new Old Street EC1 screen running the YouTube Beacons campaign
By Ben Putland, COO, Grand Visual

About 30 years ago in the UK, some clever clogs at FCO Univas stuck a Ford Cortina, the ubiquitous car of its day, on to a 48-sheet billboard to sell glue. It was a brilliantly creative use of out of home, one that sits in the Out of Home Hall of Fame. But what is the modern day equivalent?

Today digital technology now drives and inspires out of home creativity in ways we could previously only dream about. Digital out of home (DOOH) is delivering intelligent advertising at real scale.

Brilliantly disruptive outdoor ideas are no longer rarefied art pieces to be enjoyed in person by the lucky few. DOOH offers creative advertisers the opportunity for their work to be experienced for real, and in context, by mass audiences.

DOOH provides advertising creatives with a richer palette of potential. Genuinely interactive and immersive experiences can be used to captivate individuals sitting at bus stops or making their way through train stations. Brands can now hack into the real lives of their audience. Relevant, emotional engagement is the critical part of the process and the creative technology solutions we obsess over work to support this goal.

Thanks to the development of smartphone technology, social networks and the emergence of the tech-savvy consumer, DOOH can also sit comfortably at the heart of an integrated ad strategy. As DOOH becomes more “digital” it becomes more agile, it becomes richer and it is more able to play its part in a big idea that is carried across multiple channels.

We see it more and more that DOOH can be more than just support – it can be an active element in a multi-layered campaign and this is where DOOH’s future lies.

DOOH allows consumers to become part of the campaign in the course of their everyday lives and to share it with all their friends. It’s the equivalent of climbing inside Araldite’s Cortina in 1983 and then driving round to your mate’s house to show off your new tube of glue.

Digital has made out of home agile. Sites are no longer simply static on which to display an unchanging message. They now can be dynamic and fleet-of-foot –topical, charming opportunities to comment on real-world events in real-life environments.

As the industry continues to invest heavily with new digital inventory, a nationwide DOOH campaign can easily communicate an of-the-moment message, invite interaction via social channels and be updated in real time through the use of tools like OpenLoop.

For example, with a precisely-timed animation, giant Oreo cookies partially eclipsed the sun to coincide with an actual solar event. The creative ran for two hours on Friday 20 March matching the trajectory of the eclipse in real time in the UK.

The proliferation of digital inventory across the US, Europe, Australia and the Middle and Far East means that tactical global DOOH campaigns are also now possible, practical and make sense in terms of leveraging campaign execution budgets. This is a real plus for DOOH as a channel boosting its chances of attracting media budget. As an industry we need to ensure that we keep up with the human investment required to make the most of this ever-changing, massively creative medium.

Digital technology – in partnership with genius creativity – has brought the scale and impact of the medium closer to the hearts and minds of consumers than ever before. Smarter and more dynamic creative should be the norm by now. Tactical and smart creative that uses data to contextualize messaging and target audiences is not “innovation” and should not go in the “innovation” box and used only for special occasions.

According to Posterscope UK, “currently less than 5% of DOOH incorporates an element of real-time in the UK. So there is huge ‘head room’ for growing the level of dynamic activity to reach client ambition. To do that we must challenge every brief response with smart digital enhancement and, by doing so, make dynamic campaigns ‘every day not ‘special’”.

Finally, if we want a truly digital medium – one that can offer flexibility, intelligence, speed and relevance – we must embrace a campaign flow that is complex to manage and maintain. Smart campaigns inevitably bring an abundance of permutations from scheduling through to triggers and outcomes. Stakeholders must have visibility of all of these moving parts as a campaign runs. Monitoring and reporting are key to ensuring a campaign runs correctly. So if we want this truly digital medium to continue its success, visibility and reporting must come as part and parcel of it.

As an industry, we have come a long way over the past 10 years but where do we go from here?
● We must lose the “emerging media” badge for DOOH – it’s an excuse to be sub-optimal.
● We must not rest on our laurels or be resistant to further change.
● We must be proactive in terms of process, systems, infrastructure and talent.

Albert Einstein said:
“Life is like riding a bike. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

And that is definitely true for DOOH. To not fall over in a constantly evolving digital media ecosystem we must be proactive and keep moving forward.

**This article originally appeared on YourOAAA’s website as part of their Thought Leadership programme.