Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Outdoor advertising is back, and it’s a mean, keen, digital machine!

By Artjom Jekimtsev, Founder & CEO, Adverttu

Ask anyone in our industry about digital’s impact on mainstream media and the answer is usually the same – everyone is suffering through revenue cannibalisation. There is one exception to this rule, though.

Despite digital’s precise audience targeting, interactivity and positive ROI, out of all mainstream channels outdoor advertising has remained impressively resilient. In fact, out of home has grown during this period of revenue decline. 

This is partly due to the emergence of DOOH, but also because of a growing symbiotic relationship with mobile as a mainstream media channel. At its core, outdoor advertising is a powerful, memorable way of reaching a mass-market audience, making a brand famous and sending sales through the roof. There is no denying that either.

Look around any street.

Household brands are flocking to the medium. Companies like Amazon, BT, and Spotify are investing heavily. Netflix pumped significant money into promoting its recent show Messiah out of home. Away from expensive prime real estate, smaller businesses keep the sector in rude health too.

Most print and broadcast are experiencing a slow, painful decline no matter what publishers and broadcasters attempt, however outdoor advertising’s timeless benefits – its adaptability, scale and a visuality that spans cultures, languages and social classes – have kept the medium relevant, maintained its credibility and protected the industry.

In some cases, some are even turning to outdoor advertising to maintain market share and grow. The Economist recently launched a topical digital billboard campaign leveraging its established brand to strengthen customer loyalty, reinforce its purpose and win new hearts and minds.

Clearly, outdoor’s resurgence is clearly a result of digital augmentation rather than complete reinvention.

Out with the old, in with new

AMV BBDO’s campaign for The Economist is a classic case of outdoor advertising, though. As the PR around it stated, an estimated 370,000 people per day will see the adverts.

Estimated. That’s the key word here. How many will? How will they measure the campaign’s precise conversion rate? Not the perceived impressions vs. conversions; rather, the exact number of views vs. action.

This spectre of uncertainty that looms large over the medium but to the relief of budgetary holders out there, technology is closing this gap, answering this question and enabling outdoor advertising to become an even meaner, keener digital machine!

Adtech, with its advanced analytics, data integrations, artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision technologies, is transforming how out of home campaigns are planned, managed, measured and optimised.

This digitisation has unleashed a new wave of simulation, attribution, accountability and affordability.

Savvy outdoor advertising providers, those adopting the best elements of digital, are empowering brands, media buyers and businesses to easily incorporate outdoor advertising into their digital campaigns, whatever the budget, demographic or location.

There’s a conscious drive to level up the medium, to make it as trackable and easy to deploy as a Facebook advert. That’s achieved in many ways — delivering smarter attribution with mobile beaconing and social media audience comparisons, offering better simulation by harnessing public data, or simply letting advertisers optimise, adapt and adjust faster mid campaign like they would elsewhere in digital.

Getting digital with physical

Outdoor advertising certainly has plenty going for it already – it can’t be ad-blocked, never runs out of battery, and the more people who travel, the more effective it becomes and the higher the return on investment.

Tangibility lets digital advertisers extend their campaigns into the physical world in creative ways. This might be a geotargeted call to action appealing to a hyperlocal audience across a specific postcode or a fully integrated campaign where digital ads are replicated on the side of a lorry or mopeds.  

Online buyers are naturally cautious nowadays. They’ve learned the hard way that not everything is as it seems, however, when people see the physical counterpart of a digital advert adorned on a car or van, when riding up an escalator or in their train station, they know brand is the real deal.

Outdoor advertising should be seen as a crucial validation point for brands. It leaves a lasting impression, especially when striking visuals and messaging capture a brand’s unique personality. This versatility enables digital advertisers to reach the same elusive audiences in an impactful way, at scale, and with the same measurable ad spend and return on investment that they have become comfortable in recent years.

Ultimately, digital empowerment is making outdoor advertising even more commercially viable, attainable and engaging for all types of businesses.

The outside world is definitely open for business.