Sat, Jun

The OOH debate

The Out of Home Media session in the DrupaCube made it clear that print needs to be more vital if it’s to take a serious slice of the OOH advertising budget in years to come. Here’s what some of the speakers had to say on the topic.

Whether we like it or not, print is pretty limited when it comes to interaction with its audience. To retain a strong position in the out of home (OOH) advertising sector that’s going to have to change. That was the overriding message from the ‘Out of Home Media’ session in the DrupaCube theatre on the fourteenth day of the show, an event moderated by Image Reports editor Lesley Simpson.


Aimed at print buyers, marketing decision makers, advertisers, publishing houses and creatives, the individual DrupaCube sessions (which focused on a different topic each day) stimulated various levels of debate via their visionary content and speakers. The OOH content certainly gave the print community something to think about, the presentations raising some niggly questions on the future positioning of print within the media mix.

Sandy Schulz, marketing manager at Online Software, an innovative software provider that focuses on the development of solutions for the international wholesale and retail industries, explained that her research has shown that the shopping experience is often enhanced with a resultant positive impact on sales when advertising attention is boosted via interactive opportunities - such as touchscreens or video and moving images.  Basically because “with digital signage you can be emotional.”

According to Schulz, adding an image to a poster generated 14% more sales of the product featured while a TV screen and moving images pushed the increase up to 21%. With results like this it is easy to see why the deployment of mobile marketing is growing and one of the drivers is the effectiveness of pattern recognition in enabling ‘emotions’ to be engaged and curiosity to be aroused. Most OOH print just doesn’t do this.

Especially attractive to advertisers is this fact coupled with the certainty that the younger generations are easily the most savvy when it comes to mobile apps, opening up a very potent communications channel to this market. The apps can create a stronger relationship between the customer and the product, but the good news is that kick-off point is the printed poster, POS, sticker, wobbler etc – in fact any printed surface that can carry a mobile-friendly pattern and offer augmented reality interaction to take the user to a Web page etc.

Even it you’re not producing such print jobs, you’ve no doubt seen the examples of posters displayed on train concourses showing a supermarket catalogue from which products can be ordered and paid for via a mobile app using pattern recognition (purchases delivered to your door!), or posters that can be scanned by a mobile phone to access more detailed information about the contents e.g. a video. What the OOH media sector is calling for is more of a good thing.

For Carsten Horn, director of print production at Heye and Partner (part of DDB Worldwide Communications Group), OOH is “focused on marketing to consumers when they are on the go in public places, in transit,   waiting (such as in a medical office), and/or in specific commercial locations”. He further defined the medium as either ‘DOOH’ (Digital Out of Home) or ‘NDOOH’ (Non-Digital Out of Home).

To his mind the opportunities for the next generation of OOH advertising are huge and, as yet, largely untapped. He sees mobile applications increasing rapidly as mobile Internet surfing surpasses home surfing next year, opening up even further the potential for print to become more dynamic and interactive, leaving behind the inherent passivity of printed communication.

Posters will be capable of being changed in real time to accommodate and attract the shifting tastes, needs and aspirations of the various target segments that they can exert an influence upon. The message will then be in the eye (and mind) of the beholder. Rather than spray advertisements over a wide and disparate area, they can be tightly targeted and highly relevant to the intended recipient. For example, a poster can be displayed to the business person at an airport during typical business travel time and then changed to cater for the holiday traffic at the appropriate time, say weekends and bank holidays etc.  – the product remaining the same but the message and the image changing to suit the travelling audience.

As far as print media is concerned the message coming out of Heye and Partner is that print is in an ideal position to extend its reach beyond its traditional universe to take advantage of mobile technology and increase its impact by allowing the customer a springboard for further information or experiences.

Location was a theme that spearheaded the address by Pascal Dittmann, head of traffic at Unicum Marketing. While creative design and implementation are acknowledged as vital components of an advertising campaign, Dittmann considers the selection of the location as being equally essential to the successful execution of an OOH activity or campaign. The characteristics of ‘ambient marketing’, at which Unicum is expert, can be encapsulated as attention-getting through unusual and popular advertising media, which (it is claimed) offers benefits over and above more traditional advertising methods such as static posters etc. These were described by Dittmann as “formats for life environment” and optimise their chances of success through being in the right place at the right time and engaging the right people. To illustrate the point he showed examples of poster walkers (sandwich boards), bicycle handlebar wobblers, ticket barrier decals, inflatables etc. Many of these are printable and allow access to mobile marketing techniques via pattern recognition and augmented reality applications, thus ambient marketing campaigns are another opportunity for the printer to exploit.

Speaker Suzanne Rösner, product manager inkjet, central Europe region, Agfa, likewise supported the need to “wow people and emotionalise them” via OOH advertising, and stressed that wide-format printers have the ability to produce attention grabbing and memorable materials. But whilst size has a part to play, with the plethora of advertising and informational messages being broadcast and projected on everyone’s consciousness, there is a risk that they become just backgrounds to the more insistent and persistent, highly-relevant and emotion-inducing communications that are achievable thanks to mobile applications.

The capability of today’s digital large-format printers to output onto almost any substrate opens up access to a wider and still expanding world of opportunity to offer customers and prospects a more immersive experience through augmented reality with print as the gateway.

But according to Florian Gmeinwieser, head of mobile at plan.net group for digital communication, the biggest threat to print in the OOH environment is the lack of a measurable return on investment for advertising agencies and their clients.

A key benefit to advertisers who make use of mobile marketing is that the interested customer can react spontaneously and instantaneously – and that can be measured. And only those customers who are genuinely interested will interact. Gmeinwieser said there is a “mobile mentality” which has been cultivated because of ubiquitous access to the Internet when we are on the move. In this respect it is easy to see how OOH advertising can be enhanced so as to be accessible to any consumer with a smart phone. And the sooner traditional advertising can be combined with QR codes, pattern recognition or augmented reality the more that printers can take advantage of the possibilities and potential to expand their services.

The combination of mobile applications and print will allow real time feedback and measurement of the campaigns with attendant advantages such as the flexibility to adjust campaigns and focus targeting. Gmeinwieser believes that in five years time traditional print media will be value-based upon performance because customers will, for instance, add QR codes to their communications and they will receive back hard facts which will enable them to challenge their advertising agencies or publishing houses over the effectiveness of campaigns.

So, where now for large-format print in regards to OOH marketing? The key message from the DrupaCube session was that wide-format print companies need to embraces as many of the opportunities brought to the fore by mobile technology as possible and become a champion of hybrid solutions that can have a larger-than-life impact, both visually and emotionally. The combination of wide-format print and mobile applications is as strong a proposition as you will find in any OOH advertising campaign.


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