March 15, 2023
4 min read
The out-of-home advertising space has changed dramatically — and even further changes are likely on the horizon. Here's a look at what OOH advertising may look like in the near future.
There is seemingly more evolution and innovation that has happened in the last decade than in the previous 3,240-odd years since out-of-home (OOH) began in ancient Egypt. Even since I joined the industry back in 2015, the transformation has been nothing short of epic. From automating the industry to transacting in near real-time and activating trigger-based buying, we’ve come a long way.
1. Blending the new and the old
The advent of digital has changed the way all traditional media operates. No TV schedule is complete without video-on-demand (VOD) and, increasingly, connected TV (CTV). Published magazines and newspapers have migrated their content online and OOH has embraced the digital counterpart of the traditional billboard. This blending of traditional and modern media has unlocked an enormous amount of potential for the medium and the next iteration of people’s engagement with the digital world will likely unleash so much more.
This presents an interesting opportunity for the future. The widespread adoption of wearable tech could provide an increased amount of AR-based OOH campaigns that can safely and effectively connect people’s lives with digital realities.
In my opinion, the metaverse is currently a largely unsafe and unregulated landscape, however, organizations such as Darabase.io, which is unlocking digital property rights across the world, are making great progress in offering exciting solutions. The potential impact this will have on increasing the presence of OOH and connecting campaigns across virtual and physical worlds is an exciting prospect.
2. Full steam ahead on the tech evolution
As digital inventory continues to expand and mature, the appetite for both activation and reporting to be delivered in real time is growing. It is yet to be made widely available, but the signs are promising. As with measurement, there’s been a huge progression in OOH’s technology capabilities in recent years, but there is still a lot to be done to bring the OOH and wider media industry up to speed.
The concept of real-time activation and insights are tantalizing but must be balanced with the need to deliver on outcome-based metrics. Technology proliferation isn’t about commoditizing inventory or over-complicating activation so that we end up as the subject of some scathing PWC report. It’s about making our medium more accessible and more integrated with the wider landscape so we can be braver, deliver smarter outcomes for our clients and, ultimately, grow.
3. Impact on the outside world
OOH naturally exists in the outside world and, as such, we should have more of an interest and responsibility to protect and preserve it. Sustainable projects are becoming a point of pride for the OOH industry and while our efforts to collaborate in the past haven’t been quite so fruitful, I’m hopeful that we can all rally behind the goal to protect our environment.
We should be focused on creating tangible initiatives that all the organizations in our industry can support to make it easy for clients to make green choices. For example, upgrading digital screens and using recycled paper on billboards produces two-thirds less carbon than virgin paper according to the IPA Carbon Calculator. No brainer, right? It shouldn’t be considered a marketing platform or sales pitch, it should be a fundamental part of the choices we, and all business leaders, make in setting the tone.
I’m keen to see how we move from agreement to act in the immediate future and what we can achieve in the next decade.
4. Measuring what matters
OOH has always been a brilliant platform for driving fame and awareness of a brand’s proposition or product, but it can do a lot more. In the past few years, the measurement methodologies of OOH have become more sophisticated and we are now able to quantify its impact across a broad range of KPIs. However, for many marketers, these enhanced capabilities remain largely in their blind spots.
The evolution of measurement in OOH has been so rapid that some marketers still consider OOH as a secondary medium to amplify other channels. Worse still, we often see tools designed to quantify the effect of these primary channels being shoehorned into OOH, which just doesn’t work. The obsession to measure has overtaken the reason to measure.
There are plenty of opportunities in the future for research agencies to redesign methodologies that measure what matters and account for channel nuances.
With investment into audience research and the mainstream availability of mobile location data, advertisers can and should look to quantify outcomes and not just rely on arbitrary and isolated metrics. Goals such as driving sales, winning consumers from competitors or increasing basket value will be the norm and OOH will demonstrate that it has a vital part to play in achieving these once the industry embraces its capabilities.
Sophie Pemberton is the group chief strategy officer at Talon.