It is not the screen size that matters, it is what you do with it that counts.
I am often exposed to screens of a variety of sizes in my job as global business development director. Airports, restaurants, shopping malls, high streets and many more locations in many countries that I visit have invested in screens to communicate brand messages and services.
But some of these screens have simply been deployed without a thought for strategy. It seems that as long as it is big then that’s all that matters; “content is king” does not even register on the radar, let alone a strategy. But why are we subjected to badly-positioned screens with many of them showing content which is as relevant as an elephant’s big toe?
Screens should be nurtured, treated with respect, enhanced and allowed to evolve through content and recipient interaction.
One possible route to assist these abusers of DOOH is to provide them with a skill set such as “build a stronger believe”.
This is the power of positive visualisation. Daydreamers are exceptional at this; they can drift off into a world of sandy beaches and enjoy the warmer climates. Others, like us, visualise screen content that works, along with intelligent creative and how it will be enjoyed by the target audience when executed. This is just one positive tool.
We all need to enhance our creativity and work with the intelligence of digital screen broadcasting capabilities. A recent opportunity which was put on my radar (I also consulted on this project) was the holographic use of creative content to enhance a product launch for Engro Foods, which has appointed Red Tape Media Group to roll out an amazing DOOH showcase in malls throughout Asia.
The launch of Engro’s new milk brand Olpers will be seen by hundreds of thousands of potential customers as Red Tape creatively takes the brand in its real-life packaging and allows interaction with the target audience through 3D moving product samples which parade around the stage with astonishing and striking visual content. This is truly an amazing example of how to utilise intelligent creative to interact with the target audience.
Red Tape Media CEO Najeeb Baig has lifted the lid on where we can go with intelligent strategies on behalf of the global brands that we serve on a daily basis. The bar has been raised, and this is a tough act to follow.
I had the pleasure during a business trip to Dubai and Karachi to see a rehearsal of this truly amazing showcase. Please take a look at things to come.
Think creatively and let the screens do what they do best. Don’t be afraid of new ideas, but be very afraid of old ideas because they are old. Ideas represent evolution of your brand. No matter how brilliant, ideas don’t sell themselves; they have to be sold, relentlessly, continually and creatively. An idea is not an idea until it is sold.
Brands are much more than what we eat or drink or brush our teeth with. Brand strategy for the DOOH market is the summation of all communication.
The creative content strategy should jump off the page to you, it should strike the target audience in the head and gut...and if the advertising execution is up there too, the target audience are a long way towards enjoying an intelligent DOOH campaign.
We have a professional duty to this DOOH sector of ours to keep pushing the boundaries of screen deployment via strategy and more importantly, increasing the brands’ retention of message with intelligent, well-thought-out creative content. Remember: creative content is king, and always will be king.
Brands, agencies and the public sector could put digital media owners out of business.
Frustrations are running high at media owners of a variety of scales and sizes. For three years now digital signage has suffered as a direct result of brands’ and services’ lack of monetary committal to digital activity.
We all comprehend that the brands have increasingly reduced their budget spend. We get that. However, their continual lack of trust in digital signage could in fact end it before it even begins.
In order for our industry to flourish we must increase trust and accelerate the opportunity for digital signage to perform, and brands must do the same. You will all recall the transition from VHS to CD. We are at that point again from poster to digital. We require the same commitment from brands and services to the new format.
It is clear that media owners from blue-chip to SME level have capital expenditure in the millions invested into their products, products which they believe in and which bloody well work. But they are exposed to the risk element created by brands’ lack of support and trust. And this is becoming more of an issue as time passes.
The returns requested by the lenders are not being matched by sales revenue. Several significant products have already been removed from the market due to lack of sales. These guys do not get any second chances, they simply leave the market and rack up debt, with interest.
If this continues we are running a very real risk of losing several very good digital products to the banks if agencies do not start generating digital budgets, or creaming off from TV or press spend.
Some of the more established brands such as ours have not been affected by this, but I am aware of others who have. More and more very good DOOH products are available and if they are used with trust by brands, agencies and the public sector the DOOH sector will thrive beyond what we have predicted.
The UK digital outdoor sector has grown from £74m in 2009 to £128m in 2011. Clearly this is a significant indication of agency and brand commitment. My point is that we need to see more of that commitment. Come on, trust the DOOH sector, it will not disappoint you...
I have always distinguished 4D as something which may come into play a few years from now. Screens already have 2D and 3D; however, we now have 4D to think about. It comes in the guise of a scent.
That’s right, smell through the screen. Increasing the reach and expanding on the impact is critical to any brand’s exposure. This is usually achieved with strategic content and from time to time interaction via the dimension of touch.
4D is now available and we must take it seriously. The addition of a scent for some brands and services is changing the fabric of a media campaign. It is never going to be enough that we settle for conventional media over digital signage. As per my previous blogs “we must embrace this significant addition to digital signage activity”.
There are the obvious choices which you may relate to scented activity during an outdoor campaign. Consumable products instantly spring to mind. We have experience of this with Cupcake Divine, who commissioned us to carry out an iDOOH campaign for them in several UK cities. The scented technology which we have enabled us to create a cupcake-baking smell, which if I do say so was a very much welcomed by the target audience.
A campaign in America for a burger brand is also pressing. You may be thinking that consumables are a given, and you would be correct, but please note that there are a variety of situations where scents can be added creating 4D, and they are not call for onsumable products.
The smell of a new car, the leather of a new sofa, perfumes and aftershaves, a generally pleasant vanilla scent just to sweeten your activity while outdoors. I for one had no idea of the level of passing comments from the target audience. They were extremely positive and it is now an element which we are promoting, and we hope to see more scented 4D campaigns moving forward.
Until you experience it, scented activity providing 4D is difficult to comprehend, but the proof is in the pudding, and you just have to experience a campaign of this nature. Is this something that can add another dimension to digital signage? Will scented campaigns become mainstream? Who knows. However, what I can say is that it was certainly an experience and one we hope to repeat very soon!
An issue that has been needling me and many others for some time is the need for a comprehensive DOOH supplier directory. There is an abundance of reasons why a directory of this nature would be useful.
Start with the media agencies that I work with on a daily basis. These guys are frustrated at times when they do not know which suppliers run which products. Yes, we are all aware of the Kinetic Global DOOH handbook, but not only is it lacking a comprehensive UK supplier list, it is also out of date as many new suppliers have entered the market. This handbook only relates to blue-chip suppliers, which in fact make up a small percentage of the products and services available to brands.
The directory that I am suggesting would make it a simple matter for agencies from the private and public sectors to purchase from suppliers based on merit, not because they have been informed that a certain company’s product is the right choice based on ignorance and lack of education.
It is our duty as media owners to build on skills and increase expert opinion and knowledge. Please do not perceive this as an issue with the agencies; on the contrary, it is an issue with the DOOH industry. Let me give you an example of this recently.
Digiadvans.com is the market leader in mobile DOOH. It uses optical lenticular interactive HD screens capable of touchscreen, augmented reality and gesture-based interfaces. Yet when a client requests a Digiadvan from a media buying specialist they automatically assume this must be an LED Digiadvan because this is what they are used to seeing and hearing about from the industry. True, Digiadvans.com does also have LED vehicles in its global fleet, but obviously there is a world of difference between these two DOOH products.
This is not the agencies’ fault; this is what they have had drummed into them for the past few years. People are requesting products which they are led to believe are the right products for their project, when in fact they are not, and could not be further away from the right solution.
Theses errors are commonplace in DOOH and a directory of this nature would serve to accurately provide the agencies and the public sector with the right level of support and education, and above all, the right product with technical backup from the supplier.
I am now geared up to educate potential iDOOH Media customers with links such as this, which clearly outlines the differences between LED and HD optical lenticular Digiadvans. LED is a Jurassic technology that belongs in events and music festivals. It has no place on the street involving close proximity interaction.
An accurate DOOH online directory would be a significant heavyweight tool for many agencies and public sector departments throughout the UK, allowing them to search through suppliers via keywords such as “HD screens”, “outdoor screens”, “touchscreens”, “direct sunlight screens” and so on. The directory could also cover creative agencies and experiential marketing companies.
The question is, who would provide a directory of this nature? My money would have been on the Outdoor Media Centre, but they are not prepared to do so as they operate a paid subscription service and providing a directory like this would undermine their service offering. They seem to think that their online Website directory is sufficient.
So who else is there out there who could provide an accurate and relevant DOOH directory? Maybe it will fall to iDOOH Media, but we are a media owner not a directory service. I just feel that some organisations are better placed to provide this directory, and if they stopped for a second and put the monetary element to one side they could identify how successful it would be, with revenues becoming a byproduct in a short time.
Can you put your hand on your heart and confirm without any question that all screens in the DOOH sector are effective? How do you measure how effective it is for the client?
DOOH, we all agree, is a rapidly growing sector and being more recognised by brands and services on a daily basis. They are prepared to commit their scarce budgets to this new sector, which is music to the ears of all screen media owners. It was not that long ago when they would not even have considered this option.
Because of this burst of activity on the screens available throughout the UK and Europe we owe it to the agencies/brands to demonstrate to them how effective DOOH media is for them. Any media owner who is ducking out of measuring the effectiveness of their screens should not be in this market. There can only be one reason why they do not do this and that is that their screens are not effective.
Soft metrics like brand awareness, GRP, impressions, organic search rankings and reach are important but only to the extent that they quantifiably connect to hard metrics like pipeline, revenue, and profit.
The more we measure and produce analytical facts for the customer the more we gain respect and accountability as a serious sector from our collective customers.
Several years ago my company had the media rights to telephone kiosk advertising, which was a very successful media offering. Back then it was a simple measurement of pedestrian footfall. Data was supplied direct from the Department for Transport. We simply studied these figures and we were able to mathematically equate to a daily number of pedestrians and then advance to an hourly figure for the customer. That was not the most accurate measurement, but it was what we had available back then.
Now we have actual measurement of eyes seeing screens in real terms. That is a very exciting step forward for the DOOH sector, and outdoor advertising in general.
We all as media owners have an obligation to show the brands/agencies how effective the screens are. We use a company called Quividi for this audience measurement, and it has proven to be extremely accurate.
We have used this software several times providing accurate data each time. This is now a prerequisite of every campaign undertaken by Digiadvans.com. An example of this was a campaign for the recent Disney Video game release Disney Universe, via our sister brand VGM (Video Game Marketing).
The brief was to launch the game on the streets of several UK cities pre-launch and pre-Christmas shopping schedules. We would target the audience by pulling up to the curb on the street and encouraged the general public to play the game live there and then. It was a serious success with members of the public going directly to Disney stores and other outlets to purchase the game.
We were able to deliver extremely accurate OTS, dwell times and the actual gender of the individual targets. This allowed us to measure the true effectiveness of locations, cities and more importantly the actual game itself.
The customer now has strong confidence in the media resulting directly from our insistence on measuring the campaign. Disney now has confidence that the ROI was measurable and the exact numbers that interacted with the game/Digiadvan.
Accountability through the tool of measurement is what will breed confidence in brands, generating media revenue of serious significance. The customer begins to trust the screens’ capabilities and it also makes us accountable, so we can retain the business time and time again.
You may recall in 2011 when Grand Visual and Kinetic executed a study on the effectiveness of the paper poster compared with the digital poster. The result, of course, was in favour of digital.
It was at that point that agencies working on behalf of their brands realised how effective digital signage was going to be for their customers. Since then they have pushed forward by adding DOOH onto plans.
In order for the agencies to promote screens as a nominated broadcast solution for their customers they must trust in the product. In order for them to trust in the product we must provide them with case studies and above all measurement and accountability.
Screens can now help us with our everyday lives. We see screens providing us with news, weather reports, special offers, sporting results, missing persons, security messages and so on. Screens have rapidly become part of our society’s fabric.
Measurement builds respect and accountability. Do you know of any measurement tools that work accurately?
My thoughts on augmented reality have changed in the last few months. Initially I viewed AR as something which I thoroughly enjoyed seeing in action, but I was disappointed that it would be considered by the masses as untried and untested, or just something for the future.
JCDecaux has grasped this interactive concept with activity pertaining to the Ford C-Max, and also Lynx with the Fallen Angel activity viewed at Victoria Station recently.
I regularly get asked the question “how important can AR be to a campaign?”. Let me respond by saying that AR is without question going to be the interactive method used by 80 percent of brands to interact with their target audiences in the next ten years.
The problem with the UK is that we seem to have to stand back and watch the brands, brand managers, agencies, certainly the AR owners and maybe, just maybe the marketing directors in charge of brands, to see who will go first. This should be done for everyone by the AR operators educating the agencies.
We must stop waiting for the forward-thinkers of this country to take the lead. Obviously, evaluate the responses on campaigns such as those for Ford and the Lynx brand. However, please note that sometimes in the life of a brand you must just grasp innovation and run with it, with a sensible risk assessment first, of course. The time has come for us to embrace augmented reality. Work with it, test it, measure it and above all push it to its limits.
The other issue is that lots of marketing folk seem to think that the general UK population, the people on the street, the consumers, are all brain-dead technophobes who will not grasp it. Wrong. The UK general public is one of the most techno-media-savvy audiences in the world, and do grasp this kind of interaction. Watch the videos on YouTube, for crying out loud, they love it!
Stop fussing about it, and just do it. At Digiadvans.com, which as you know I own, we are more and more each week advising the brands which we represent to use it. We decided that we needed to experiment with it ourselves by allowing our customers an opportunity to try it out at our expense. We set up a simple system which allows the recipients to go to a Website, download the software, which takes a few seconds, print out the symbol (in this case the Digiadvans.com logo), hold the logo up to your cam and watch the results.
The Digiadvans appear in the palm of your hand playing out a recent Virgin Radio campaign which we carried out in Paris. It was a very simple and hugely effective interactive tool for our customers. Try it out by clicking on the following link. Just follow the instructions, even us brain-dead technophobic English can do it...
Why has it taken a media owner to do this? Surely agencies should be embracing this and challenging their brands by promoting AR in all applicable campaign activity?
Not only can we experience an extremely intelligent feature, we can also see into the future. This is the first time that you will see for yourself what is going to be used by the masses in less than ten years.
We are exhibiting at Screenmedia Expo with the Digiadvans and we are encouraging visitors to try out the example which you have just experienced above. We have set our objective clearly for the Expo: “Push AR interaction at every opportunity.”
We could sit on our arses and let the brands and agencies execute the same level of “here is what is coming, Mr. Brand”, but no, that is not what we are about. We want AR designers to shout more about the fantastic job which they do. Mediastation in Surrey is a prime example. These are the guys responsible for the majority of the Harry Potter computer graphics, for example.
These guys are true advocates of what can be achieved with the right invested level of intelligence an imagination, and this is a credit to them. What these guys are doing with AR is out of this world. They are currently working on some extremely special activity with i3window.com. All very exciting.
The potential for this level of target audience interaction is endless, it truly is. So let’s give this fast-moving DOOH sector of ours a new kick-start by encouraging, experiencing, promoting and above all using augmented reality as often as possible.
I often wonder how agencies and brands actually measure the success of DOOH campaigns. It is critical that the fundamentals are clearly set out pre-campaign and pre-creative. What is it that the client and the agency wish to achieve? Do they want a call to action, do they require active number measurement, or is it simply brand awareness?
It must be determined pre-campaign or you are asking for trouble. And you must ask the question, as it is common for this never to be mentioned by some agencies.
You may recall my previous blog pertaining to audience measurement. This is a unique measurement of success associated with any digital screen network, and any media owner which shies away from audience-measurement software should be avoided at all costs. That said, you should obviously consider an alternative proposed metric, provided you are certain of its authenticity.
Let me give you an example. This week, SA Digiadvans and SA Digiwalkers are in Paris executing a campaign on behalf of Virgin Radio. The brief is to drive listeners to Virgin Radio. We are allocated the demographic, and the locations are clearly set out. It would be easy to tap into the French transport systems and borrow their stats for how many people are on the streets/locations which we are targeting, then provide the client with this data. But that would be cheating, although the figures would probably stack up.
If we are to stand even a remote chance of increasing DOOH spend we must be more accurate, and provide each client with measurement information which demonstrates how effective the screen activity has been.
I can only comment on Quividi, as this is the only measurement system that I have tried and tested...and it works. This system allows us to measure not just the numbers by the hour or minute if necessary, it also allows us to measure each recipient’s dwell time in front of the screen.
It will also measure the gender of the target audience. This is essential for some brands, and in Paris we have not only provided the client with up-to-date stats by the hour, we have also provided them with the gender percentage split location by location.
When we undertake a second campaign for Virgin Radio we will already be gifted with knowledge of which locations benefited the client the most. We can also leave out the locations which did not perform for the client. That is the level of authenticity which each and every screen owner should be demonstrating to the agency and, above all, the client. Anything short of this is simply not acceptable. Amscreen are a true advocate of this measurement to clients, and I salute them for that.
This level of effective campaign measurement will establish trust in the DOOH sector and inevitably increase the percentage of spend going to this sector. It will also help to bring about peace between media owners and clients, for we seem to have seen some disquietude with what is currently been offered by way of measurement from some owners of digital screen media.
Each brand must now be inquisitive pre-campaign, and this level of investigation will allow the media owners who are really working hard to provide true and accurate data to prosper.
For example, i3 Window is one of the innovators of interactive screen activity, constantly assuring that for each campaign that they execute, the client comprehends how it is measured. You may have recently observed the Fallen Angels campaign in London’s Victoria station for Lynx, or the JCDecaux Ford C-Max activity rolled out throughout several shopping malls.
This is exactly what i3 pride themselves on delivering, and it should be the level which every screen owner aims for. Augmented reality is the king of interaction and its effectiveness is immeasurable.
Useful metrics are quite frankly easy to implement, they are worth their weight in gold, and more and more agencies will start insisting on them, pre-campaign.
So: effective measurement or deception? You choose when you come across your next digital screen network. The brands deserve to know how effective their budget was in the DOOH sector; don’t you agree?
This is an area that is currently being debated by media owners across the globe. Can we get that little bit of extra budget due to the medium being digital outdoor?
Certainly many agencies are currently feeling in a predicament over 2011 budgets. The media agencies are suffering due to the climate. Many of the top brands are reviewing their media buying accounts and agencies.
The brands have made their feelings clear to the agencies: "You have a significant reduction in budget, but we want twice the results of last year." Of course that is a slight exaggeration, yet I am certain that many UK and Euro agencies will tell me that I am not a million miles away from the truth.
This has bred a fear into agencies that has never been seen before. Well, not at this level anyway. The fear is born out of the horror of making a mistake with the client’s budget by introducing an innovative DOOH strategy. If they get this wrong not only do they have an unhappy client on their hands, but also they run the risk of losing their job!
Trust me: this is happening in the majority of the larger agencies. They stick to their more traditional media buys because it is the safest option, not because it is the best option in accordance with strategies for their client. Let's be honest, no one has ever been sacked for buying TV, radio or press!
This is not only dangerous but it is also the way not to think. Agencies are drawn into economy as a result of the client pressure, "get it right or else". DOOH media owners then bombard them with audience-measurement data and dissection matrices, and in addition they are constantly reading how DOOH is growing in terms of spend and results. So what do they do? Run the risk of a job loss or play it safe with more traditional media?
Let's look at things slightly differently. How about we consider using the same multipliers and accelerators that took us into this recession...to get us out of this recession. They work both ways, up and down. We just need to know how to ride them with more intelligent media choices. The media sector must play its role to get this sector out of the grey area it is in.
I am fed up with people telling me that we are now seeing bluer skies; that is utter garbage. Things are no better now than they were last year. This will take at least another couple of years before we start to breathe again and even when we do we will never do business again the way we did before, never!
Thankfully for us Digiadvans.com has doubled turnover and doubled profit in its last financial year, but this was not without a serious strategy implementation, which fortunately paid off for us. That said, I am aware of other companies that were not so lucky, and they are finding it extremely difficult to stay afloat.
In order to get things moving we must embrace DOOH and demonstrate to the brands and to the agencies that it is worthy of the additional spend. We must demonstrate transparency with audience-measurement figures, not settling for the last digital-screen-versus-poster results. On the contrary, we need to push forward with innovation and interactive campaigns, which are influencing the way customers buy. This is all possible if people start doing this now. Why put it off?
We are seeing bespoke campaigns utilising screens that are extremely innovative, incorporating augmented reality, touchscreens, audio and QR codes. These are the exact tools that I am referring to.
A prime example of a company executing this mentality is JCDecaux, as demonstrated in the Gateshead MetroCentre.
Here's what the agency Ogilvy & Mather has to say about its campaign for the Ford C Max:
The campaign allows people to handle and explore miniaturised 3D ‘virtual’ models of the cars on-screen and in the palm of their hand.
The campaign, created by Ogilvy & Mather in London and digital production company Grand Visual, allows users to interact with the car simply by holding their hands up to the screen.
Virtual buttons allow the user to choose the colour of the car, open doors, fold the seats flat, turn the car 360 degrees and select demos of the car’s key features such as Active Park Assist.
Not only can this drive incremental sales, it also identifies a clear media-savvy public.
Mark Simpson at Ford said: “Using live interactive outdoor campaigns is a great way to really engage with the audience in a way that is not possible with static posters. This has enabled us to create a targeted and tactical campaign that is relevant and fun to use.” The Ford campaign was planned and booked by Mindshare and Kinetic. A very positive all-round success!
This is the level of intelligence that we all need to adopt in the DOOH sector. We must demonstrate to the brands that it is a calculated reduced risk to invest in this level of DOOH campaign activity. If you communicate the ROI effectively, you will quickly identify that the brands are prepared to spend more for this level of interactive campaign strategies.
Whether we like it or not, and I certainly do, the DOOH sector is moving forward with intelligent executions such as this one. For those who are afraid, my advice is to leave the sector. That is like trying to stop VHS evolving into the CD/DVD, it is going to happen with or without us...
Do we need a uniform DOOH database for agencies and the public sector to choose the most suitable DOOH solution?
I went to work on this and established rather quickly that I was right: there is no such list.
The closest thing to a DOOH suppliers list can be found on the Website of the new Outdoor Media Centre, formerly known as the Outdoor Advertising Association. And I have to say a big “thank you” to Mike Baker, CEO of the Outdoor Media Centre, for advising me of that.
My only concern is that this list is slightly biased, being only for Outdoor Media Centre members, who pay an annual subscription. Therefore my concern is how accurate it can be. Digiadvans.com are not on this list, though we are at application stage, and many other media owners are not on this list either.
Look everyone: we need this list if agencies are to have a fair and accurate crack of the DOOH choice whip!!
The more folk we discussed this with the more we identified the necessity for this list. But the bottom line is cash, that old lady in black, unadulterated, no-nonsense cash. Money would be needed to do it. Anyone out there that has a spare bag of cash, please email me.
I received 27 personal emails from the DOOH industry and the agencies highlighting that this issue was not only valid but topical. We all agree that this list needs to be in place and we all agree that this list would improve media buying patterns and, hopefully, spend.
So why don’t we have it, or better still, when will we have it?
First of all I would like to say a big “thank you” to Barnaby and all at Screenmediamag.com for inviting me to run this blog. I feel that blogs can be loved or hated – we can only live in hope that you enjoy mine.
I can say with confidence that the topics discussed in this blog will be sometimes controversial, though never offensive. And I hope to have plenty of responses in similar vein to the issues raised here.
First of all I would like to say a big “thank you” to Barnaby and all at Screenmediamag.com for inviting me to run this blog. I feel that blogs can be loved or hated – we can only live in hope that you enjoy mine.