The future of personalised OOH advertising

Ahead of his Changing Media Summit appearance, Rupert examines the mobile and personalised future of out-of-home advertising.

What can you tell me about your about tenthavenue and your role there?

tenthavenue is looking to be the leader in the creation and distribution of consumer-led content to change behaviour in out-of-home (OOH) environments. OOH environments are incredibly diverse – from retail to events and consumer needs are equally diverse. We’re trying to satisfy those consumer needs and to align them with advertiser objectives. We do this by building off the strengths of our various operating companies and partners – be they providers of data and insights, content, technology or media. It’s my role to harness the skills of our operating companies and other partners; to align them to create relevant brand experiences driven by the mindset of the audience.

How does the multi-agency approach in tenthavenue work, and how do you manage the communications between the agencies?

This is always a challenge for any company that has 60 offices in 26 markets. However, it is a balance of:

– Aligning the senior management across the companies with the overall vision
– Getting them to make it relevant to their own people
– Embedding people from different tenthavenue companies to create specialist units
– Individual company ambassadors, which support the CEOs in communicating activities across tenthavenue

As out-of-home advertising increasingly delivers personalised ads, to what extent will the industry face resistance from consumers wishing to maintain their privacy?

The relevancy versus privacy conundrum is always a tricky one, especially when there is, on occasion, a tendency for the “creepiness” around it to be overstated. But digital is changing the brand-consumer conversation, in as much people need to feel the message is relevant for them to engage with it fully. And while most of us understand there is a certain value-exchange taking place between data and relevancy to enable that personalised consumer experience, people still want to understand what they are sharing, how and why.

Our OOH agency, Kinetic, recently polled their consumer panel about this very subject. This study validated that people are willing to hand over certain levels of data – particularly the 18-24 group – as long as they see the value exchange is beneficial to them. And as more information is given over the exchange conditions, the more comfortable they feel in doing so.

In reality, the only way to combat consumer fear is to be transparent, be relevant and be respectful. And above all, to lead the conversation around implications of new technology responsibly.

For brands considering out-of-home advertising, what top three pieces of advice would you give them?

It’s similar to any campaign delivered across any channel, but with an added level of complexity due to the specific mindsets of consumers when they are on the move:

1) Obvious but vital; be clear on what campaign objectives are and what the desired consumer response is. For example, is it brand awareness or call to action?
2) Consider the impact of the copy/creative treatment/content: think about the environment of the screen/frame – is it a pedestrian area, are people driving for instance? Do people have time to absorb the message? Is the intention to command their attention for a more than a few seconds?
3) Consider the context and the consumer mindset at point of consumption: for instance, when people are at an airport they are in a very different frame of mind compared to commuting or socialising.
4) Be clear on how to measure success and the impact of the campaign, what data can be collected and interpreted, and how the OOH component fits into other media channels being used. If digital OOH is being used, can the copy be optimised for different locations, times of day or any other data trigger?

Your session at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit is about the re-invention of marketing. Do you think that technology has re-invented marketing or do the basics stay the same?

Technology has certainly made life more interesting, but it must be remembered that it is a tool to deliver the message and not a strategy.

Strong content, a good story, using data to inform and technology to optimise the delivery through media in the most contextually relevant way, that’s what makes a great campaign. People are emotive buyers; they buy the trustworthy brand story rather than the technology (this is even true in the business-to-business space), so this needs to be front and centre in every marketer’s mind.

Is there a risk that an over-reliance on data and technology in marketing will kill creative magic?

Data aids our understanding of the consumer and technology aids an optimised channel experience, which can in turn make campaigns more effective. But when advertisers start the thinking upfront about why they want to tell the story, what story they want to tell, how to push through the most applicable channels to land this message most effectively, this is when campaigns work best.

Having said that, creativity is inspired through many different things and I don’t see why data insights or technology should be excluded from this. But they certainly shouldn’t be the starting point every time.

Finally, what’s in store for the outdoor advertising in the next 10 years?

We’ve all seen the world become more connected and this is fuelling new consumer behaviours and expectations, changing the brand consumer conversation. OOH isn’t immune to this. Things I can see are:
– OOH advertising estate will become digital as standard.
– Digital OOH is likely to evolve to include data audience trading, and is one of the next screens in line to adopt programmatic trading.
– OOH will become almost a complete human sensory experience, carrying elements of smell, touch and sound. It will be interesting to see how this is carried out in a non-intrusive way.

This article was first published in Media Guardian on 16th March 2015.

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