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

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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.

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.



Adam Kleinberg
Adam Kleinberg April 27, 2011 at 10:41 AM

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.


Rajesh Vinaykyaa
Rajesh Vinaykyaa April 22, 2011 at 10:47 PM

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.