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The 10-minute guide to digital out-of-home

The 10-minute guide to digital out-of-home Jim Nichols
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So you think you know digital. But do you know digital out of home (DOOH)? Chances are that many of you are a little rusty on this segment of the industry. Several DOOH leaders told me that there is clearly a divide between those who know, understand, and utilize this space well, and those that don't understand the space at all.

The number of people "in the know" is growing, but my suspicion is that there are plenty of iMedia Connection readers that would find an overview of this category valuable. Without further ado, here is a ten minute primer so that you can decide if DOOH might have value for you.

DOOH size and growth
No doubt about it, we all need to pay more attention to the size and growth of the DOOH segment of our industry. Take a look at these figures and think about them in the context of the size of the industry segments we talk endlessly about.

With greater than $3.5 billion in sales expected this year, it's apparent that DOOH has a whole lot going on.


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Category structure
Most industry observers break down the opportunities into four main buckets:

  • Retail: The retail category encompasses in-store opportunities like PRN's Walmart TV, grocery store checkout TV, and the like. The idea, of course, is to impact consumers at the point of sale. Sometimes these units work as broadcast screen only, while other units may offer deep interaction to help a consumer learn more about an item or choose the best product for them.



PRN units



  • Place-based: These screens appear in a variety of venues, particularly in captive audience environments where content can entertain consumers. Examples include in-taxi ads, ATMs, elevator screens, screens in bars/restaurants, and even in professional offices like dentists' waiting rooms. Again, some work as broadcast units, other as interactive units.


Billboards.com


Accent Health TV Network



  • Outdoor: Think billboards, with sight and motion. You'll typically find these in very high traffic areas like on main highways or places that attract millions of people, like Times Square.


Billboards.com



  • Movie Theater: Not the trailers, the ads that appear in the programming before a movie, or just before the coming attractions get started.


ScreenVision



Targeting options
While many people think of out of home as a mass play, digital out of home has always offered a variety of targeting options from broad to highly defined population segments. Those options get better and more granular all the time. Some of the options available include:



  • Demographics: The broad range of DOOH venues makes it possible to deliver to a well defined demo. You can target by gender, age range, income, market, ethnicity, and more. While you are unlikely to get 100 percent composition, you can deliver a highly targeted campaign.


  • Venue: Naturally, there are a variety of venue targeting options. In-store vehicles let you reach consumers when they are most likely to be persuadable. Here there are options to target by class of trade (grocery, drug, mass, convenience store) or even by chain/chain and market. In-taxi media might be a powerful way for NY entertainment venues, for example, to drive awareness and purchase intent.


  • Location: This can range from a general location, like the Long Island suburbs, to a particular one, like medical offices. Additionally, digital outdoor also offers the option, pioneered by traditional OOH, of targeting by proximity, for example, within a certain number of miles from a Walmart.


  • Behavior/affinity: Adcentricity also reports that behavioral and insight targeting are also becoming much more common. Says their authoritative planning guide, "The practice of deep data based/rationalized targeting is growing daily to rationalize plans and justify solutions to the end client." Interactive units surely play a key role in this regard.


  • Daypart: Many DOOH options offer the opportunity to schedule impressions and exposure by daypart. For example, a board might feature Minute Maid in the morning and MGD at night.

When to use DOOH
In order to best make use of DOOH, it's important to think about it in the context of overall marketing objectives and tactics in use. In my view, DOOH should be thought of as part of an overall marketing solution -- a supporting part.


I've put together six use cases that illustrate a broad range of situations in which DOOH can play an important role. Consider the following:



  • Mass reach: DOOH can be great at this. From digital boards at key locations on highways, to a broad scale buy at the entrances of retail stores, DOOH can hit tens of millions of people in a week or less. I think it's best to think of this as supporting media in a mass reach effort, because the more passive nature of the broadly targeted units likely make them less effective at telling a complete product story. But in-store TV, for example, would be great at reminding consumers of a new product they've seen on TV, putting the item top of mind as the consumer wanders the aisles. Similarly, a digital billboard on the 405 in LA could remind millions of a TV premiere or the like.


  • Addressing underdelivery: DOOH is particularly good at reaching consumer groups that tend to be harder to pinpoint with traditional and PC-based digital media. For example, Toyota spent heavily to introduce its entry level Yaris car to young people through cinema advertising. The creative helped make the messages particularly resonant with the well defined audience segment.






  • Situational awareness: Imagine you are a tourist visiting New York City. You see an ad for Sweeney Todd on the In-taxi TV. Odds are that you are more likely to buy a ticket, no? Or how about this: You are waiting in a doctor's office for an appointment to discuss joint pain. An ad for Celebrex appears on the screen in the lobby. Again, you're a lot more likely to "ask your doctor about Celebrex." Or how about this one: You work in an office building. It's lunchtime. As you ride down the elevator, Subway's "$5-dollar foot long" offer appears on the in elevator TV. You're that much more likely to go get that big sandwich, yes?


  • Promotion delivery: You can make offers available to consumers through interactive units AND display units. For example, a billboard might offer a short code to download a coupon. Or an interactive unit might offer the option of a QR code to deliver an offer to a smart phone.


  • Real and symbolic brand support: In-store TV or kiosks will help drive more brand sales. But they also are very marketable to retailers that you are serious about the success of that item. That you're committed to drive velocity. This might be a great alternative for premium priced brands to pursue versus circulars and end-cap discounting.


  • Product immersion: Interactive units, in retail or in captive locations, can give consumers an opportunity to "go deep" in product information. Imagine your cough medicine has eight formulations. An interactive display can help the consumer find exactly the right set of benefits for them.

Naturally, the opportunities and situations in which DOOH can help support your efforts are quite broad. The important thing is to consider DOOH as you consider all of your other media options, because it may well provide an edge.


Media costs cover a broad range, with many broad vehicles offering CPMs similar to good online media, and more highly targeted tools charging significantly more for their precision.


Creative considerations
Digital out of home units tend to be rather "forefront." They have the motion characteristics that demand consumer attention, and often appear in "captive venues" where there are few other distractions. Indeed, that is part of their power. I am sure some will take issue with this article for not vilifying certain DOOH vehicles as "over the line." I'll leave it to you to decide what's OK and what isn't.



In an era of consumer empowerment, it's important to think carefully about value exchange when you plan a DOOH effort. What information or entertainment value are you offering the consumer in exchange for their "captive attention?"


In my view, there are two things to consider:



  1. What inherent value does the specific channel offer the consumer? For example, PRN and WalMart are careful to maintain a strong edit to ad ratio in Walmart TV. Ads surround strong content including home, lifestyle and entertainment stories. When the medium has value, consumers are willing to tolerate advertising to support it. It's the classic US media model.


  2. What tangible value does you execution offer the consumer? DOOH experts may disagree with this, but I believe that the consumer should be able to expect more value from a more intrusive medium. The less value the medium offers, the more value your execution needs to offer in order to be received positively by the consumer. I'm not saying that it wouldn't be effective to run a TV ad in an elevator, but rather that we are missing out on some of the promise of the medium by doing so. But at the same time, we need to consider cost/benefit of producing specific executions for media.

Value can come in the form of information, lifestyle ideas, and entertainment. For example, that Toyota Yaris ad was clearly designed to reflect the high entertainment standards of the movie goer. No one wants to spend $8 to $12 to watch a "sale-a-bration" ad, but Toyota added value to the viewing experience with great action, storytelling, and production values.


Interactivity is playing an increasingly significant role in DOOH. With the advent of larger displays, gesture control, multiuser touch screens, and other whiz bang technologies, consumers are getting more and more opportunities to become a part of the DOOH execution. Check out these two programs to get a sense of what I mean. The first is an InWindow Outdoor execution for PNC Bank.




This one is from Gesturetek:







While historically these programs have been difficult to scale, that is slowly changing, and they continue to provide a create deal of buzz and news value when placed in the right locations.


While such executions have their place in DOOH, many brands make the mistake of thinking about DOOH as "special occasion" media. As a result, they might consider a whiz bang program like this on rare occasions, but might overlook the work-a-day tools and tactics that are really driving the sales and growth in this industry. To think about DOOH solely in the context of these kinds of programs would be analogous to buying only site takeovers in online, without broad reach video, banners, or social programs to deliver a communications foundation.


Conclusions
Are DOOH media right for you? How the heck would I know? But it is safe to say that they warrant serious consideration by a larger number of brands. DOOH is growing like a weed because it is powerful, proven, and affordable. That's a combination a lot of brands might find very valuable indeed. With expected sales this year of more than $3.5 billion, it's quite possible that your competitors are already utilizing it to create competitive advantage.


I'm indebted to two key sources of information and data for this piece:



I hope this piece provided a useful overview for you to consider as you devise future strategies and tactical programs for your brand.


Jim Nichols is senior partner, strategist at Catalyst S+F.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.


Jim Nichols is VP of Marketing for Apsalar. Jim has 20+ years experience in over 80 different categories, including developing successful positioning and go-to-market plans for more than 40 adtech and martech companies. He joins Apsalar after...

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Comments

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Commenter: Adam Kleinberg

2011, April 27

Thanks, Jim. I'm speaking on a panel at CET World today. This will make me look like I know what I'm talking about.

Adam

Commenter: Rajesh Vinaykyaa

2011, April 22

Absolutely DOOH spending has increased a great ton not only in US but developing nations as well. Not to mention washrooms too are having these digital gadgets installed. Recent survey by a market research company exactly showed the figures for developing nations which in contrast to your findings was very similar.