For years, the OOH industry has been challenged by brand marketers across multiple verticals to become more accountable via enhanced measurement and attribution capabilities and to transact in a more streamlined way. In response, our industry has come a long way, breaking barriers of entry through the use of technology to become a smarter medium. Over the past 8 months, amidst a worldwide pandemic, new pressures have mounted, as CMOs of the largest brands in the world have been forced to become more nimble, to evolve to new consumer behaviors, and to prove that their investment choices are actually moving the needle.
As a result, our evolution must be expedited as well. Perhaps by moving forward, we will be able to look back at this time as the OOH Revolution- a time when our industry had no choice but dramatically and permanently change. When systemic tail winds lined up with emerging technology, enabling OOH to take its rightful place within the digital revolution. When OOH’s market share jumped from 4% of overall spend to 6% (or more) in just a few short years. A jump that would be life changing for us all.
Of course, this only happens if we meet the moment and respond to the new challenges brands are putting on us. Evolve, or be relegated to low single digit market share forever.
As I speak to brand marketers, top agency specialists and my peers in the OOH sector, the 3 consistent areas where I see OOH being challenged are (1) flexibility, (2) dynamic creative, and (3) measurement.
- To be clear, this has nothing to do with rate. Rather, advertisers have become used to the flexibility online and mobile platforms afford them. In fact, they have come to take it for granted. This includes running messages “when” and “where” their audience is, making changes on demand.
- In the OOH world, our turnaround time has been improving for years, even for static OOH. As we work to bring brands back and add new ones, we will need to give those brands the confidence that as consumer behaviors continue to change, that they will have increased flexibility to achieve their goals and to get what they paid for. We must enable advertisers to optimize their OOH programs, in real-time if we expect to compete with or seamlessly complement online platforms.
- The ability to offer this flexibility will mean something different to every platform, but at its core it means we must offer brands the ability to focus on audience first, no matter how the landscape changes or the audience moves.
DYNAMIC ENGAGING CREATIVE
- In today’s world, it is no longer sufficient to reach the audience. It is now all about engagement. This means unique and compelling content in the right context. OOH is the now the best broadcast media option as a result of the fragmentation of TV, and brand marketers have begun to recognize the clutter breaking, social media amplifying, nature of our medium. Add to that the ability to structure both one-to-one and one-to-many engagements and one can begin to realize the truly unique potential to be unlocked in the OOH space. Adjusting messages based on the audience, geography, weather, daypart, and even more granular behaviors is already changing how marketers view and use our medium.
- The proliferation of mobile phones has changed the way our medium is measured. Not only can we exponentially increase the success of mobile when used in combination with OOH, but mobile data paired with location data gives brands the opportunity to understand audience delivery & behaviors and match those insights with the right OOH placements to engage that audience.
- The most exciting opportunity for our industry is that we now have the ability to build upon the strong work Geopath is doing by reporting real-time audience impressions, relative to the estimates we provide prior to a campaign. This will give brands confidence that they will get the impressions they were promised, which is more important now than ever, as audience sizes and patterns change with the pandemic.
WHAT VECTOR IS DOING
At Vector we have chosen to invest amidst the pandemic to launch the first digital large-format transit network on a nationwide basis, called DDTV. This street-level network will provide both impactful reach and frequency with flexibility that has never been possible with moving media. With new breakthrough technology that enables real-time content shifts based on audience trends, we will be able to optimize a brand’s coverage to meet momentary changes in consumer behavior and deliver the audiences advertisers are looking for. This will be essential to rebuilding brand marketer confidence in the medium and will provide a breakthrough change of how brands plan and purchase transit media- based on audience.
As a leader in transit innovation, Vector has spent over two decades reshaping what was thought possible on moving media. This past month, after several months of testing and fine-tuning, we launched a partnership with StreetMetrics, the leading third-party transit measurement and attribution provider, who will provide verified impressions for our customer’s transit programs across the US. Equally exciting, Vector’s customers will now have the opportunity to add attribution modeling to their transit programs at scale. Brand marketers will be able to understand how their transit media created a lift in awareness, footfall, web engagement, and/or app downloads and add transit to the core of a national omnichannel media plan.
As an industry, OOH has lived outside of the core media plan to its own detriment. Although we have been growing consistently, we have never seen the exponential growth experienced by data-backed digital media networks and we must now fight for what we deserve. By providing actual third-party verified impressions and linking unique user IDs to consumer behaviors, brands can now include OOH in their attribution modeling. As brands have begun layering in this data to their modeling, they have learned what we all have known for years- OOH works. By proving it, day in and day out, we can now address the top and bottom of the funnel, elevating OOH into a brand’s core media plan. As we continue to succeed in doing so budgets will explode. We are on the right path, which has been expedited by this horrific pandemic. Through adversity, comes opportunity. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.