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How ad tech is transforming the OOH sector

Shaun Gregory

It’s an exciting time for the Out-of-Home (OOH) industry. OOH advertising spend is forecast to increase by +3.4% in 2015 and +4.3% in 2016, according to the 2015 Carat Ad Spend Report released last month, and in Western Europe, the OOH forecast has been revised upwards from +2.9% to +3.9% after a strong Q1 in 2015. OOH share of total advertising spend stands at 7.0 per cent.

Digital is driving OOH growth worldwide, supported by data and greater connectivity, and the UK continues to lead the way. Digital media will reach 30% market share globally in 2015, according to Magna Global, and digital screens now contribute 27% of total UK OOH revenue – second only to China.

Paper and paste OOH campaigns have delivered some of the most effective and controversial campaigns this country has ever seen – The Conservative Party’s Labour Isn’t Working and The Economist’s Where Do You Stand? campaigns being just two examples. 

Now, we’re also seeing a wealth of innovative digital campaigns that showcase the advanced use of data by advertisers and media owners in the UK. Last year’s British Airways #lookup campaign featured digital billboards around London encouraged passers-by to look up and spot the aircraft flying overhead, while a message on the board pointed out the flight's city of origin.

The campaign involved mounting an antennae on the roof of a building near each board. The antennae picked up data from the transponders of British Airways aircrafts within 200 kilometres and fed that information into to an application that identified the flights. The application then sent the information to a server that served the messages about the plane's destination or place of origin. 

Data is also facilitating more relevant, targeted digital campaigns for consumers. The recent Wall’s Goodbye Serious campaign at Westfield Stratford highlights how brands are now using OOH to interact with consumers in a far more personalised way. 

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The ice cream brand hosted a pop-up shop at the shopping centre to attract shoppers. Fun and cheeky comments appeared on the DOOH screen throughout the day, interacting with individual people or groups passing by and directing them to the shop.

Increasing amounts of data, combined with new technology, means that OOH is innovating rapidly. We can now provide truly bespoke experiences for consumers through the use of unique content, interactivity and truly personalised experiences. 

Mobile data, and the greater connectivity it provides, is one of the OOH industry’s biggest game-changers. At 94 per cent, London has the highest penetration of smartphones in the UK, according to Exterion Media’s online urban community work.shop.play. The ability to connect with consumers while they’re on the move, through their mobile device, opens up a wealth of opportunities. Mobile data can bring both classic and digital OOH assets to life. 

The data it provides also allows advertisers and media owners to create more personalised, relevant campaigns to consumers. We recently partnered with Telefónica to boost the consumer insights we can offer to our advertisers. By collecting anonymous data from across its mobile network of 24 million O2 devices, and analysing trends within that data, we can understand more about audience movements and behaviour.

We believe that mobile will become a seamless extension of OOH, providing a personal portal to interact with OOH messaging and even, in the future, driving e-commerce through OOH interactive-enabled 'shop windows'.

In the next 10 years the media power players will be the Internet, TV, OOH, mobile and tablet. However, OOH needs to grow its voice and its market share. The key to industry growth will be finding ways to engage millennials who are not consuming media in a traditional manner. New entrants will also play a pivotal industry role, with data and technology companies like Google and Facebook disrupting the sector. Watch this space. 

Blog by Shaun Gregory, first published in The Wall.