Innovation drives outdoor digital advertising

Posted on : 30-09-2013 | By : john.vincent | In : Innovation

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One of our current clients is in the media space and recently I took the time to visit their digital playground, where they showcased new innovations for their own clients. It was really interesting to see how new technology will change the way that we currently behave and interact in the “space between the boxes” (meaning the journey from home to work location).

Prior to visiting I, like I’m sure many people, hadn’t really though much about how I use my travelling time outside of catching up on emails, preparing for meetings and generally keeping up with events. I certainly hadn’t thought about interacting with the “digital environment”.

Traditionally, companies such as CBS, Clear Channel and JCDecaux have provided an outdoor advertising offering through street furniture, billboards and screens in with a static physical or digital display. We’ve all seen the transition from the standard posters to screens that display adverts using business intelligence to target consumers based on location, time of day, footfall etc…

As companies look to re-balance the percentage of revenue to a larger digital portfolio they are also looking at new techniques and innovation to increase business.

Firstly, in terms of the “legacy” estate, there is an opportunity to increase the mobile digital experience via smartphones through the use of NFC and QR codes with campaigns. For example, by placing these at a standard place on the outdoor furniture, advertisers can create a visual direction to it with standard posters from which customers can interact, access more content, order products, integrate with social media etc…

A recent example of this is the announcement of the partnership between Clear Channel and Metro where consumers can tap or scan the interactive tags on 10,000 of the bus shelters to access free content from the Metro site. This is a great example of the marriage of new and old technology to create a new customer experience. 

On the existing digital displays, the possibilities go further as the screen content can be changed dynamically based on interaction with the user or other variables. For example, screens can display live feed information such as events and news pushed directly from content servers. An example of this is where the latest job adverts are displayed real time from agencies, countdowns to an event launch or messages from the public through twitter #hastags responding to questions posed by companies (carefully vetted of course…).

Another example of this interaction is allowing the smartphone to display tailored content from the advertiser by scanning the a QR code and then receiving an additional user experience (basically experiencing the advert on their own terms …). There is still some way to go though, with a recent survey from CBS Outdoor  stating that only 11% of European consumers have scanned an outdoor enabled QR code.

However, the real innovations are coming through actually enabling and tailoring a direct, often multi-sensory, connection between the advertisement and the consumer. Already companies have been trialing the touchscreen and motion sensitive screens, allowing consumers to navigate as they do on tablets and smartphones, play games, select product options, take pictures of themselves to upload into adverts etc… Going forwards there needed  we expect technology to develop further to simplify the interaction between the consumer and the advert, limiting the amount of manual or prompted intervention.

What is really interesting is where technology is now emerging to accurately measure in real time the type and volume of people that see ads in any given location and at any time of the day. An example of this is with Amscreen using Quividi technology to assess who is looking at the screen, for how long, age and sex to provide accurate information from which campaigns can be tailored. Combine this with the interactive aspects, which are now including other sensory experiences such as sound or smell along with motion, and the possibilities are really interesting.

Of course, there’s a fine line in interactive advertising…if not considered carefully it can be seen as impinging on a consumer’s personal space or breaching data privacy boundaries. Whilst innovative for the provider, many consumers will still want the traditional channels of print, television and radio with which they feel more comfortable (and in control).

That said, over the coming years expect to see a  much enhanced outdoor consumer advertising experience (seems Ridley Scott was not far off with Blade Runner…). If you don’t want to partake then you may need to keep your eyes either shut or firmly on the “old fashioned” e-book reader…