Your Smartphone Is The Future Of OOH

Out Of Home is undergoing a rapid transformation as it begins to catch up to the digital world with mobile driving much of the innovation. The quintessential media holdout still operates in a similar fashion to the Don Draper days. Static media is served for months at a time to an audience modeled by traffic estimates and transactions are still processed by…human beings!

Despite these drawbacks, OOH is still an effective media to reach huge audiences who are on the move. According to Vistar Media, consumers spend 17x more in store than online and OOH offers advertisers an opportunity to reach these individuals on the path-to-purchase.  And it’s not all bad news. There has been more plenty of OOH innovation in recent years, particularly in regards to measurement, targeting and interaction. Mobile has been the catalyst for much of this advancement as we begin to connect the dots between offline and online data, enabling OOH engagements that match the precision of display.

From Counting Cars To Tracking Phones

OOH has previously used Daily Effective Circulation for audience data which is the average number of persons in a vehicle that could potentially be exposed to a display based on 12, 18 or 24 hour time period. That data is then modeled to estimate the current audience makeup over a said campaign. Yet, with 65% US smartphone penetration, the majority of Americans are broadcasting location information down to lat/log we could use to understand who is nearby an OOH placement at an exact moment. This requires massive coordination from mobile ad networks, advertisers and OOH companies that I will not attempt to solve here but we are already starting to see this take flight. For example, Vistar has already partnered with mobile ad network PlaceIQ to be able to apply their behavioral intelligence on mobile to OOH placements.

Minority Report Comes To Life

It is not enough to just have better audience measurement unless you can act on it. Real-time data needs to be applied in real-time, not on the cycles that most OOH is traditionally planned and bought on.  Digital OOH will unlock this opportunity as the inventory becomes addressable. According to MAGNA GLOBAL, DOOH account for 12.9% of OOH sales last year but that number is expected to rise to 14.8% in 2014. Eventually, this inventory could be bid on in a real-time environment as trading desks transact on display. Imagine knowing the current makeup of a shopping mall and programmatically serving a piece of creative to match that demo. Companies like Immersive Labs or Quividi are currently doing this by identifying audiences using facial coding. Take a look at Plan UK which only showed video to a female audience for reference. Yet, solutions like this rely on people being in range of a camera for a period of time. With mobile, this can be done at scale. Beyond audience data, we can begin targeting based on weather, traffic patterns and more contextual data.

No Scanning, No Tapping, No Problem

Mobile is also enabling OOH interactions, forging 1-1 connections with brands and consumers. Marketers must consider the value exchange associated with these interactions, however. Asking someone to scan a QR code or text a shortcode should offer tangible benefit. Yet, we’ve seen QR usage stall in the last year or so. This is part creative execution and part technological drawback, namely the friction involved with installing an app and scanning a code.

Bluetooth beacons bring huge promise to enhance OOH as mobile phones can be sensitive to your environment within 1-150 feet in range. It’s the next level of location-based services, providing unparalleled context that GPS or cell tower data cannot. Mobile apps can now deliver distinct experiences based on what aisle you are in and OOH billboards can sense if you’re on foot or in a car, for example. Imagine a consumer walking by a billboard that pushes them an offer via their shopping app which can be redeemed in-store, or receiving sequential messaging or even receiving turn-by-turn directions to a venue. Beyond the granular proximity of beacon technology, it is a passive technology which enables communications pushed to smartphones. The catch? Beacons rely on an app so you better have one or partner with one with some scale.  Beyond messaging, beacons will also be a huge of proving out OOH ROI as advertisers can now connect the dots between ad exposure and store visit.