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Back News IN DEPTH: They love us, really

IN DEPTH: They love us, really

European consumers may positively welcome advertising when they are out and about, rather than finding it intrusive, according to new research from CBS Outdoor.

But accurately matching messages to the traits of different transportation users as well as tailoring them to the time of day is essential for effective campaigns, the firm says, as is recognising the growing role of mobile.

“The people who are out most are the people advertisers want to reach. They are high-income households, impulsive spenders, technologically savvy and they don’t try to avoid advertising,” says a report from the outdoor-advertising giant entitled Europe on the Move.

Those who spend a lot of time out of home are alert, have higher incomes, are more likely than the population as a whole to work full-time and much more likely to have children, are more probable to have bought something on impulse in the past week, and are more likely to pay attention to outdoor advertising, it says.

And travel is not just commuting – indeed, only 47 percent of full-time workers’ travel time is actually spent on the commute, with the remainder occupied by shopping, socialising and the school run.

So far, so covetable an audience. But is the itinerant consumer a suitable target for commercial messages? Perhaps unsurprisingly, CBS Outdoor says yes.


Making their day

“The preconceived notion that consumers on the move are bored, angry, rushed and frustrated is only partly true and not over-riding,” the report asserts – adding, indeed, that they may actively seek out advertising as a way of alleviating boredom or a bad mood. “People welcome advertising, particularly when it is interesting, funny, a good distraction, or informative.”

To support the claim that the out-and-about public welcomes out-of-home ads, CBS Outdoor reports that consumers’ top five activities on the move were listening to music or the radio; talking to other people accompanying them; looking at out-of-home advertising; considering routine shopping requirements; and thinking about work.

Looking at advertising is even more important to people waiting for public transport. It was their number-one activity, followed by listening to music; text messaging; reading; and making phone calls. 

The firm draws these assertions from a survey conducted for it by Harris Interactive last autumn, covering nearly 10,000 consumers in six European markets: Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

And while there were differences among the profiles of audiences in those countries – for example, the Irish have the longest average daily commute, taking 66 minutes to reach their workplaces – the researchers found striking similarities too. For example, they said, consumers using the same mode of transport in different countries have more in common with one another than they do with fellow citizens who travel by a different means.

Walkers of the world, unite

“Mood and behaviour is strongly linked to mode of travel – so much so, that it can tell us more about a person’s mood than their nationality,” the researchers said. For example, two walkers from Italy and Britain, or two bus travellers from the UK and the Netherlands, are much more similar than a walking and a bus-riding Briton.

Even the shift in consumer mindsets across day-parts seems to transcend national boundaries.  At different times of day, “there are specific opportunities for advertisers to tap into – from the desire to escape to more basic needs, like eating and watching TV. The strength of the synchronicity is remarkable.” For example, consumers tend to think about grocery shopping in the morning and during lunchtime, and about holidays in the afternoon and again in the late evening.


The Europe on the Move report cautions, however, that these factors do not mean every consumer in transit is ready and waiting to ogle outdoor advertising (for groceries in the morning, and vacations later on, of course). For mobile consumers are, of course, increasingly concentrating on mobile media too.

“We are in an era where ‘dead time’ is dying. With smartphone use becoming the norm, technology is unlocking our productivity, allowing us to purchase, research, and share – wherever we are. Technology means people are, more and more, experiencing ‘indoors outside’. For advertisers this is a consumer event horizon and an opportunity. How do you draw on the distinctions between experiences, thoughts and behaviours that were once profoundly and inevitably interior which are now lived in the open air, such as Facebook?” 

The message for advertisers, agencies and media owners seems to be that audiences on their way from A to B are worth reaching and receptive, and exhibit  characteristic attitudes and behaviours that can be exploited by effective targeting and creative work – but also that for these consumers, the out-of-home mix must include mobile as well as outdoor.


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