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News & Events

ANA: Seeing the Big Picture for Out-of-Home Advertising

While traditional advertising channels such as TV, radio, and print are fighting an uphill battle against digital media, out-of-home (OOH) advertising has been growing steadily for years. In fact, the format recorded 35 consecutive quarters of growth through 2018, according to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), including a 7.2 percent jump in the final quarter last year, its best performance in more than a decade.

What's behind OOH's ability to buck the prevailing trend for all things new media? A major factor is digital technology — just the thing that's bedeviling the rest of the traditional advertising realm. But that doesn't tell the entire story, says Stephen Freitas, CMO at the OAAA.

"Societal factors are helping drive OOH's success too," he says. "Record miles driven on U.S. roadways and record levels of air travel are placing more people in the OOH space than ever before. For this reason, OOH is largely unaffected by the erosion of audiences through the continued proliferation of media channels."

Freitas points out that OOH remains one of the last media to reach consumers en masse. In today's world of clicks, likes, and page views, "OOH is the real thing," he says. "It can't be ignored, blocked, skipped, or viewed by bots. OOH advertising works 24/7/365, surrounding and immersing consumers with real, powerful advertising wherever they live, work, travel, shop, and play."

Greater Mobility Leads to More Exposure for OOH
Dan Levi, EVP and CMO at Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, agrees that changes in consumer behavior are an important driver in the growth of OOH. He notes that urban and suburban sprawl have built a culture in which people spend more time driving than ever before. Whether they're commuting to work, shopping, or taking a leisure trip, their journeys take longer than they did in the past, so people spend more time exposed to roadside OOH.

In today's society, people tend to think about distance more as a measure of travel time rather than in geographic terms, and smartphones enable more exploration and consideration of journeys beyond a person's local community, Levi says. "Longer, more discoverable consumer journeys represent an ad environment where OOH is a desirable, nonintrusive way to tell a brand's story with impact on the largest creative canvas in advertising."

OOH Morphs Into DOOH
There's no denying the important role digital plays in OOH's continued success. "OOH is rapidly becoming a digital medium (DOOH)," says Barry Frey, president and CEO of the DPAA. "That means we are automating sales and trafficking systems, widely embracing programmatic trading, and utilizing advanced forms of digitally available data." 

Digital tech is also boosting OOH's capabilities, facilitating ways to address specific audiences by daypart, weather conditions, and other variables. While static billboards are still part of the mix, digital screens in all shapes and sizes are becoming more common, giving advertisers the ability to run high-quality video content. "Consumers and advertisers want addressable, relevant advertising, and brands want digital programmatic systems and better data," Frey says. "Advertisers love the way their brands look on the new, beautiful screens."

Perhaps the most significant impact digital brings to OOH is the ability to incorporate first- and third-party data to trigger campaign creative, says Ian Dallimore, director of digital growth at Lamar Advertising. Streaming music platform Spotify, for example, used real-time user data around songs and playlists to display eye-catching content on billboards as part of its year-end "Wrapped" campaign last year.

Several marketing campaigns that Lamar has executed for advertisers have leveraged real-time data to drive measurable lift in key metrics. "A campaign we executed for AccuTemp using real-time weather data resulted in a 30 percent lift in sales," Dallimore says. "Zyrtec (an allergy medication) used real-time pollen data to trigger specific creative in markets when pollen was high, and it saw a 3.8 percent lift in visitation to drug stores and an 11 percent increase in purchase intent. Data allows us to help brands talk to consumers at the right place and the right time."

Tech Fuels 'Back-End' OHH Activities
As big an impact as digital technology is having on the creative side of OOH, its impact on back-end activities, such as media buying, campaign management, and audience measurement/attribution, may be even more significant.

"Advances in workflow automation are eliminating up to 90 percent of the back-and-forth to execute a campaign," says Matt O'Connor, CEO and co-founder of AdQuick, a platform that provides a single point of contact for brands and agencies to plan, execute, and measure their OOH campaigns. "Software like ours is drastically reducing the antiquated process that was previously involved with booking an OOH campaign — dozens of phone calls, comparing prices and inventory, multiple copies of cumbersome spreadsheets, and hundreds of back-and-forth emails."

Many buckets of audience data for DOOH are already available, adds DPAA's Frey. "Mobile data companies like Ground Truth enable us to understand available cohorts, address audiences when (they are) in front of screens and boards, package in mobile inventory, and then see attribution live when websites and retail locations are visited."

Anonymous video analytics, a technology that uses embedded camera sensors and pattern-detection software to determine when a face turns toward a digital sign or billboard, is increasingly accurate at identifying specific audience characteristics such as age, gender, attention, even moods.

On the media buying side, programmatic supply-side and demand-side platforms such as Broadsign and Place Exchange are driving mobile, digital, and video advertisers aggressively into the DOOH space, Frey adds.

How Brands Deploy OOH
Brands are getting more creative in the ways they use OOH in their marketing plans. New Balance, for example, created tremendous buzz with its "Real Time Exception Spotting" event during New York Fashion Week last September. The event used digital billboards, cameras, and artificial intelligence (AI) to single out passers-by whose outfits suggested they had a unique fashion sense. The outliers were featured on a live digital outdoor display and rewarded with a pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz Nubuck shoes.

"Given all the format options, whether static, digital, large format, or experiential, OOH provides a plethora of formats we can utilize to bring great ideas into the real world."

— Ashley Bertschmann, integrated marketing manager at New Balance.

"Our goal for 'Real Time Exception Spotting' was to celebrate people who go their own way and have their own point of view, expressed through their fashion choices," says Ashley Bertschmann, integrated marketing manager at New Balance. "New Balance supports those who embody the fearless independence that defines our brand. Our key objective was to engage with consumers and generate awareness for the activation not only that day, but through social sharing following the event. The results exceeded our expectations."

At Microsoft, OOH has evolved into an almost completely digital undertaking for the last two years, although static may occasionally play a role for surrounding an event or a similar purpose. "We generally look to digital first as it allows for more creative flexibility and enhanced trackability, while also reducing production costs and trafficking time," says Erin Bevington, Microsoft's GM of global media and agency management. "We tend to use OOH most for campaigns that require geo-targeting to help in driving first- or third-party retail locations or, in the case of national cinema, to aid in awareness and purchase intent goals for our primary campaigns."

More Versatility for Marketers
New Balance looks at OOH two ways when deciding how to use the channel in its overall marketing media mix. The first is how it can use OOH for in-store footfall to drive brick-and-mortar consumers. "Given the ability to utilize OOH as a last touchpoint with tight proximity to our store locations, and the results we've seen from our attribution partner, OOH is a key pillar in those plans," Bertschmann says.

The second way it looks at OOH is from a larger campaign basis. "Within larger brand campaigns — for example, 'Real Time Exception Spotting' — it's about finding the best channels to bring the idea to life," Bertschmann adds. New Balance's marketing team starts by cultivating an understanding of the consumer's habits and passions, then it builds the idea, and it finishes with channel planning. "Given all the format options, whether static, digital, large format, or experiential, OOH provides a plethora of formats we can utilize to bring great ideas into the real world," Bertschmann says.

Unique Value for Retail Brands
Static OOH can be effective for building brand awareness and for always-on promotions. DOOH is often better for driving urgency, for day-part messaging, and for leaning into a creative strategy. DOOH lets advertisers incorporate rich media messaging, such as video, audio, and other elements that promote consumer interaction and engagement with the content. Day-part messaging also plays a growing role in the marketing mix for many retailers, such as fast food and convenience store chains, that want to drive traffic during specific times of day.

"We employed digital billboards for our 'Morning Campaign' during the morning daypart in order to drive a lift in breakfast-time sales and traffic," says Heather Broscious, senior brand manager at RaceTrac, which has more than 500 convenience stores across Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. "The creative strategy behind focusing on the daypart was to communicate that RaceTrac is a judgment-free zone and encourages guests to eat whatever they want to in the morning, even hot dogs and pizza."

Retail brands can also use DOOH to transform functional consumer touchpoints, such as gas pumps, checkout screens, and even menus, into marketing channels, a strategy that RaceTrac has also adopted. The company installed OPTIC gas pumps at several locations to enable more dynamic messaging in a place where customers are already naturally paying attention, Broscious says. She calls the move "an otherwise missed opportunity for standard gas pumps and a more dynamic option than static OOH placements. Additionally, there is opportunity to customize the messages and the promotion based on the location and even consumer data."

Alas, the Future of OOH Is Digital
OOH is projected to outperform the industry throughout the next few years, growing at a rate of 2.8 percent per year through 2023, versus a decline of 1.7 percent per year for total traditional media advertising, according to new research by MAGNA and RAPPORT. However, it's DOOH that promises to be the primary driver of that growth, with a separate report from Research and Markets projecting annual increases of more than 11 percent a year through 2023.

"For us, measurement/attribution and addressability aren't on the horizon, they are (already) here," says Allan Apjohn, VP and group media director at MullenLowe Mediahub, New Balance's media agency of record. "The opportunities all rely on creative ideation and finding the best partners to execute with. As far as we're concerned, the best ideas are new ideas, so we're continually looking to push the limits across all channels, including OOH."

A Sign of the Times
OOH Goes Mobile

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is growing in popularity among big technology brands, even as it retains its importance among CPG, automotive, and retail advertisers, according to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA). In OAAA's 2018 Megabrands report, a quarter of top OOH spenders are major tech brands, with Apple claiming the top spot among all OOH advertisers, a position held by McDonald's for the previous 20 years.

Stephen Freitas, CMO at the OAAA, says that major tech brands are using big OOH screens to direct consumers to smaller screens, such as smartphones and tablets. "OOH lets big technology brands reach consumers on their daily journey and enables them to tell a story that no other medium can tell," he says.
— M.J.M.

The original article appeared in the Association of National Advertisers.

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