Can I have a “P” please, Bob?

02 Feb 2018  |  Euan Mackay 
Can I have a “P” please, Bob?

Route's Euan Mackay explores the purpose and place of digital out-of-home in the marketing mix

Digital out of home (DOOH) is buoyant. It continues to increase audiences and revenues. However, some have argued that it is yet to define its real purpose and place in the marketing mix. That was my takeout from the recent Mediatel OOH Summit.

In classic marketing theory, there are four Ps – product, price, place and promotion.

Attendees at the Mediatel OOH Summit took to Twitter enquiring about digital out of home’s own “P-word”? After some linguistic wrestling, I’d posit that two ‘Ps’ set digital screens apart from ‘classic’ posters.

The first is ‘Potency’. Digital outdoor comes at a premium, but does so for a reason. Coupling sexy new technology with significant screen sizes and resolution means brands have have the opportunity to create an unprecedented “wow” moment.

Having a shiny façade is all very well and good but there remains a need to justify the premium in investment. Fortunately, there are a wealth of facts and figures available to help in doing just this, ranging from industry currency audience measurement data through to brain-monitoring-neuro-wizardry and plenty of good old effectiveness research to boot. Let’s take a quick tour thought what just some of that data tells us.

Firstly, it’s important to underline that Route, the Joint Industry Currency for out of home media, measures the audiences for 6,000+ digital frames in Great Britain. This means that digital campaigns can be audited in terms of their audience delivery in a manner that is both transparent and accountable. The measurement will continue to improve and Route is in the process of evolving to deliver single-frame spot ratings by the end of 2020.

Within its current audience calculations, Route includes a ‘dynamic factor’ that is applied to digital ads. This is underpinned by eye-tracking visibility research, which demonstrates that ads featuring movement are more likely to attract the eye than their static counterparts. This is more pronounced in larger formats. For advertisers, this means that a large screen will be more potent at generating audiences than a poster in the same location.

While one of out of home’s strengths is its contextual relevance, digital capabilities dial this up further. It’s now possible to run creative that’s dynamically tailored to locations, audiences, time of day and environmental factors.

Source: Digital out of home context, creativity and effectiveness - Talon

A recent report on the state of digital OOH by Talon shows that contextual copy increases advertising relevance by 55%. They also note increases of 54% on brand impact statements and +40% on media efficiency. With more contextual capabilities, digital ads make OOH campaigns work harder and are more potent at achieving message cut through.

Source: The Art of Outdoor - Ocean Outdoor

Within this canon of work is neuroscience research conducted by Ocean Outdoor. This found digital ads incorporating full-motion video were 2.5 times more impactful than their static printed equivalents in generating brain encoding.

Source: Research Findings Reveals Effectiveness of Classic and Digital OOH - Clear Channel/Posterscope

Research by Posterscope and Clear Channel highlights that adding digital to a “classic” poster campaign significantly increases awareness and activation by 14%. A JCDecaux case study demonstrates digital increasing spontaneous brand awareness by 27% and shows brand consideration doubling. Finally, award-winning research from Exterion Media shows how movement in digital underground escalator panels increases engagement levels by 24%.

Quite simply, digital out of home offers brands a potency boost whether they seek fame or activation from their campaign.

The digital OOH potency stems from its second “P” - “Phlexibility” (it’s ham-fisted, forgive me). Compared to paper posters, digital screens offer advertisers greater pliability and flexibility (Pliability + Flexibility = Phlexibility). This allows brands to break the typical barriers to OOH while retaining all the core benefits. The outcome is that digital helps ramp up the medium’s overall effect.

Greater flexibility and innovation means scope to build more tailored campaigns for audiences. This affects:

The planning cycle – No longer must campaigns be booked months in advance of a two-week run. Rather, digital enables campaigns to be planned and run nationwide at short notice – often in the same week. It allows planners to make better use of out of home for short-term tactical executions as well as the more long-term strategic brand building campaigns. The connected nature of digital screens means brands can pick and choose when their ads appear through the day, week or campaign duration.

Creative treatments – Replacing static posters with digital screens means greater scope for creative innovation for advertisers. It introduces full-motion video. It enables brands to deploy data-driven creative that’s reactive to time of day or environmental context. It can include fully interactive 1-2-1 content. Quite simply there are more possibilities with digital outdoor than there ever could be with a static print poster.

Cross platform campaigns – In lifting the creative shackles and reducing turnaround times associated with the static poster, digital out of home is better positioned to align with other media. This makes it is easier for brands to integrate out of home seamlessly with other elements of the campaign no matter the campaign objectives.

So, there we have it, the two ‘Ps’ that set digital out of home apart are “potency” and “phlexibility”. It is the combination of these which take the medium above and beyond what classic paper posters alone can provide. These attributes coming together are actively helping brands to dial up the core benefits of out of home. Ultimately, this is leading to more creative campaigns that are planned more efficiently and become more effective at reaching and engaging desired audiences.


Euan Mackay is general manager at Route research

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