It’s time for messages that meet the market.

By: Rick Robinson, Industry Expert

2022 will be about anticipation.  An expectation for things to continue getting better.   Not necessarily normal again, but a likeable “new normal.”  While we know our world will never be the same, and we’re still not sure exactly how things will play out, we do agree on a few bullet points.  There seems to be a consensus around hybrid home/office work schedules, a more sincere focus on the needs of people, and acting on questions of purpose.   Equally, we are facing lingering economic questions that make us look over our collective shoulders a bit.  Will the stock market continue to rise?  Will housing values settle down?  Will the “Great Resignation” persist?  And most pressing, how does one not miss out on making fast money in crypto currency 

Yet we endeavor forward.  People always find a way to not only survive – but thrive. A November Forbes headline noted “Weary Consumers Will Seek Immediate Happiness and Comfort In 2022.”  Theirtempered optimism for a post-pandemic recovery, will compel consumers to find brands, products, and experiences that provide an immediate — even if temporary — sense of happiness, comfort, and relief.”  I believe this desire will extend to content as well.  Not just entertainment but all forms of communication, including OOH advertising messages. With this rising public mindset,  I predict the average person on the streets in 2022, innocently consuming OOH media messages, will be looking for the quick hit.  They will respond to the visual fix that adds to their day. They will be very open to promises of variety, movement, and fresh possibilities. To the point, if your OOH creative delivers some level of immediate time, fun or money; you will have attention and an audience.

What to expect for OOH Creative in 2022:

  • Humor and intrigue make a comeback.  The public is waiting.  I can hear them shouting now – “Entertain me please!  Make me laugh, even think a little, but keep it simple and get the medicine down.”  We’ve spent the last 21 months reflecting.  Now it’s time to help the OOH world smile with pithy quips, light puns and audacious promises.  Hail, hail the return of the snappy headline!!
  • The emergent language of NFT will inform the OOH creative lexicon. NFT artists are designing with a digital first lens, exploiting the full scope of our software-driven, high-tech world. Often, it’s all they have ever known. As this new asset class continues to invest media dollars in OOH (digital & printed) it will be fascinating to see what new visual vernacular they bring to the medium.  How will they educate us and signal their product to the public?  What will they teach us about OOH design?  Will they go beyond creating awareness and change the creative OOH playbook?  (See Refik Anadol and his data-driven machine learning algorithms that produce abstract, dream-like environments) 
  • A push for “shoppable” interactions leading to transactions. This isn’t only about using more QR codes or touchscreens.  It’s truly about understanding the unique viewing experience for each type of OOH format, and how each can lead to a relevant brand response.  Craig Benner, CEO of Accretive Media – an OOH data & technology company – put it best when he noted “There is a fundamental need for brands to consider the natural and organic conversion behavior of those viewing a specific type of OOH before the creative process begins.”  The necessity for performance metrics will naturally increase demand for OOH creative that calls the audience to specific trackable actions.  Expect to see more creative energy given to mastering this type of messaging, especially in dwell time environments. 
  • In the moment messaging will become commonplace. Increased speed-to-market competence for all OOH media will allow for delivering messages with more immediacy.  The ability to confidently satisfy opportunities to exploit fleeting cultural moments will be a revelation.  Brands recognizing the totality of the massive US DOOH footprint will begin activating messages meant to reach everyone with urgency.  As creative teams come to understand and believe in the possibility, they will want to trigger this quick strike voice and begin to think towards it,
  • A return to investments in BIG. The tentpole power of OOH will see a renewed and perhaps historical surge.  This will create a call for ideas that demand presentation at scale – 3D effects, embellishments, build-outs, neon, LED’s, moving parts, etc.  The public wants to experience the WOW! Factor.  They want to see evidence of optimism and feel the gravitas.  Simultaneously, brands want to demonstrate leadership and show they are “back” by making bold public statements of confidence.  Size matters in 2022.
  • There will be an attempt to connect to the Metaverse It’s inevitable. Someone will try to configure DOOH as a portal to these persistent online 3-D virtual environments. The cultural wind is simply too strong and there’s too much money in play.  Just this week NFT BZL hosted an “interactive” exhibition of NFTs at Miami Heat Arena, as part of a new collaboration with the open source blockchain Tezos.  The future media implications are yet unknown. One day soon there may be a new sense of what is real estate as a result.  Will OOH live in the Metaverse?  Never say never. (See Krista Kim’s Mars House)
  • A craving for more visual immersion. The impact and mass popularity of the Van Gogh exhibits across the country this year revealed more than a post-COVID need to get out of the house.  They proved out a public appetite for dramatic and textural surround sound visual experiences.  This is not a fad.  It’s a trend with legs.  The public has learned they like it, and they want more.  OOH will respond, especially in dwell time public intercept points.  Experiential teams get ready.  Creative people – start your engines!
  • Look for the launch of a new seminal OOH campaign akin to Apple’s Shot on iPhone. With the abundant energy coming at the medium on multiple fronts, it’s inevitable we will see new investors and citizens of the space come to life in 2022.  I expect there will be at least one brand emerge with a creative epiphany that will last for years. 
  • The Obie’s will begin to become the most coveted creative award in advertising.

It’s time…

Our attention economy is going mainstream. OOH screen time is increasing.  Continued public optimism and a belief in the brighter side will define 2022 and the OOH canvas will reflect that sentiment.  The people’s space is at the ready.