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Outdoor Marketing in the Digital Age

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Last decade has brought about a huge change in the way consumers look at brands and products. Today, technology underpins the changing consumption patterns. If we were to really look for the consumers, they are always on the move. People are spending more and more time out of their homes while they are working, shopping or socializing and it’s becoming increasingly challenging for brands to engage with them.

Television commercials, alongside traditional mediums such as print and radio, once dominated the world of advertising. Today, they are only catching up with the busy audiences. While these consumers are always ‘on the go’, outdoor advertising offers the perfect solution to reach them and build a strong recall. OOH has some specific advantages like promoting products and services in specific geographic areas while the target audience is at public places, in transit, waiting or in marketable location. The creatives that can be changed at regular intervals, keeping the travellers’ interest. Most importantly it builds a strong recall due to repeat sightings. The flexibility and leverage of this medium has kept the advertisers interested and invested.

However, OOH marketing is not the same as it used to be a decade back. Marketers have embraced innovation in all parts of the business to keep pace with the consumers. New technologies and devices are organically forcing creative developers and advertisers to re-think their strategies. As consumer consumption patterns begin to shift with the emergence of new technology and devices, so have the advertising and marketing for consumers, thus leading to use of new lighting and materials and leveraging digital technologies, leading to the birth of Digital OOH.

Digital OOH (DOOH) is a very valuable format for advertisers who seek to engage with consumers in an interactive manner. DOOH networks typically feature independently addressable large formats like billboards, screens and kiosks, which may be placed at cafes, bars, restaurants, health clubs, colleges, gas stations, convenience stores, and other public spaces. Owing to technological advancements and an increasing ownership of smart devices, people can act instantly on advertising messages making Outdoor more relevant and meaningful now than it has ever been.

With DOOH trying to make its place in the industry, a very important question arises for all advertisers- Is OOH still relevant? The answer as we see it would be a resounding ‘Yes’. The larger than life billboards that capture and hold consumer attention, not only have a high recall value, but also allow marketers a base for creative experimentation. The quirky copy, visual graphics, innovative fabrications, 3D modeling and the disruptive nature and approach of DOOH is helping brands break out of the clutter of regular advertising.

A key advantage with DOOH is the extremely low cost per thousand, especially in contrast to the media channel. This further allows experimentation given the affordability of the medium. It is the ideal channel for visibility along arterial roads and major traffic junctions, allowing a mass reach and geographic flexibility. These factors provide an edge to DOOH.

However, brands get access for a limited duration and DOOH being a mute tool, they are able to communicate only a part of the message to their target audience. This creates the need for extremely powerful content or method of delivery to make an impact through DOOH. Hence marketers need to consider a mix of formats to target consumers. This could include, a display that changes by the time of the day or day of the week, to target customers in the right state of mind. They can leverage other media like radio and social to popularize and cross connect with DOOH platform. There is a need to focus on using the right formats at the right time to deliver the right messaging to the identified consumer. Different formats need to cross connect for a synergetic impact.

Although digital outdoor advertising has been happening in India for some time, it is still at a very nascent stage. Innovative implementations, disruptive ideas and creative deliveries that make consumers stop and take note of brands, will catapult DOOH advertising into next level of growth in India.

About the author / 

Neeta Nair

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