Digital billboards influence response rates to other media.

Digital OOH Advertising Influences Multiscreen Behavior

UNITED KINGDOM — Ocean Outdoor has released results from a study that used neuroscience to explore the impact of digital out-of-home advertising on other screen media. The research was conducted by Neuro-Insight, a market research company that uses brain-imaging technology to measure how the brain responds to messages. The results of the study, Beyond Out-Of-Home, were released today at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in London before an invited audience of 100 advertising executives, media planners, buyers and industry specialists.

“A previous study demonstrated that premium outdoor locations positively primed responses to standard outdoor sites. In this new study, we set out to discover whether this priming effect worked beyond outdoor and could apply to other screen-based media that is consumed out-of-home. The results were unequivocal in demonstrating strong priming impacts, but we actually found even more than we expected,” said Heather Andrew, CEO of Neuro-Insight. “First, we discovered that regardless of the creative, mere exposure to the priming medium had an impact. People who have seen a digital out-of-home ad campaign first responded more strongly to advertising on mobile devices, even when not linked to the campaign they had seen on DOOH screens, than those who’d been exposed to television. We call this the congruence effect because it demonstrates for the first time the importance of environment and the power of “brainstate” on people’s responses to advertising.”

According to Ocean Outdoor, neuro-research was chosen as the way of examining message impact because it provides a means of looking at people’s emotional, sub-conscious responses which are difficult to assess through traditional, questions-based research. The study followed 192 people divided into 8 groups in London and Birmingham. The participants were between 18 to 65 and were made up of equal numbers of men and women.

Neuro-Insight set up control groups where some people were exposed to digital out-of-home advertising, and other groups were exposed to the same ad campaigns on television. The groups were shown two ad campaigns, one for Peugeot and Lynx. The sample was then split further so that half the people from both the DOOH and TV groups saw each campaign at the priming media stage. People were exposed to advertising for one of the two brands, either at a digital out-of-home site or on a television, prior to taking initial brain readings. In each group, people either only viewed a digital out-of-home advertising campaign by walking past it on the way to the study location from a pre-arranged meeting point, and also saw a TV ad in a program that was aired “in the background” in a holding room prior to the research session starting. In neither case, the study observed  people’s attention explicitly drawn to the medium or the advertising messages.

The study participants were then exposed to branded messages for the two featured brands in magazines and on iPads. Using this approach, neuroscientists were able to compare:
  • Responses to magazine and mobile online ads amongst those who had previously been exposed to digital out-of-home advertising
  • Responses to magazine and mobile online ads amongst those who had previously been exposed to television advertising
In each case, they could examine responses against unlinked advertising, and responses to ads from the same campaign.

The study’s results found that prior exposure to an advertising campaign on television did led to higher levels of response compared with an execution from the same campaign was subsequently seen in a magazine. Prior exposure to campaigns viewed on a full-motion digital out-of-home site led to higher levels of response compared to campaigns subsequently seen on a mobile screen alone. However, the study found that the reverse was not true—television does not prime responses to mobile screens. And traditional out-of-home does not prime responses to print magazine campaigns, demonstrating an important role played by the congruence between priming medium and primed experience.

This effect is statistically significant and reflects what is called the congruence effect—the impact of environment and “brainstate” on responses, according to Ocean Outdoor. While television is highly immersive it places the viewer into a sedentary state at home, just like magazine reading. While consumers are on-the-go, digital out-of-home advertising stimulates a heightened level of response to messages seen outside the home, just like mobile devices. The brain is very receptive to the power of context, and congruence plays a role in how we respond to things.

“The findings have clear implications for maximizing the impact of cross-media screen campaigns by harnessing the specific priming impact of digital out-of-home. We already knew that iconic, large format advertising delivers heightened emotional response and strong memory encoding, and that this impact is heightened by full motion screens,” said Tim Bleakley, CEO, Ocean. “We also knew going into this study, that large, iconic sites had a positive priming effect on other OOH advertising. This new study takes the learnings further, to show that the priming impact of digital out-of-home advertising extends beyond the out-of-home world and into the wider all screen media universe. We’ve now established that there is a clear congruence between screen experiences out-of-home, and the combination of large and small screens accessed on the go is a particularly powerful one.”

Sources: Ocean Outdoor, Neuro-Insight,