Digital is the buzz word in the outdoor space. Established companies such as Pattison are replacing their billboards with digital technology, and many new digital OOH players emerge every month. Three years ago, when Astral launched its digital network in Vancouver, clients adopted a sit-and-wait approach to see who would use the technology first. Today, Astral’s units are sold out the majority of the year.
So why the digital boom?
Simply put, digital offers greater flexibility to switch out and change messaging frequently without high production costs — a retailer’s dream. It also allows for more meaningful and contextual messaging, something every agency wants for its clients. For example, maybe an insurance broker wants to target cottage owners in Ontario. Why not run a digital billboard campaign on busy highways during long weekends that targets summer cottage-goers? The flexibility to run weekends only is something the static board cannot offer.
NFC — the revolution has begun
“I want it now” is driving the digital invasion in outdoor. Increasingly demanding, consumers don’t want to wait to purchase a product. Thanks to mobile devices and the introduction of near-field communication (NFC) technology, the outdoor space is increasingly able to deliver “it” now. NFC allows a smartphone to communicate with a chip embedded in a poster, for example. With a single tap, the consumer moves further down the purchase funnel, to purchase event tickets, enter a contest, watch a movie trailer or locate a store.
NFC technology is likely to succeed where the QR code failed because it will be an integral part of a person’s day, with their phone becoming their wallet. And with the latest smartphones rolling out NFC-equipped and companies such as Astral and Newad implementing it into their products, the mass adoption of NFC technology has begun.
One to watch
So who’s using the digital OOH space in cool ways? The one company that routinely pops up is Monster Media. It’s always on the breaking edge, using the technology creatively. A recent example of this is the virtual grocery store it launched at London’s Gatwick Airport in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics. What was so cool about this execution is that it engaged the “I want it now” generation, giving them a glimpse into the future of virtual retail shopping.
In 2011, Monster and Tesco placed virtual stores in subway stops and at bus stops in South Korea. Source
So how do advertisers evolve their efforts in the fast-growing digital OOH space? I say they embrace it and take advantage of this new technology that offers stronger contextual relevance and effective point of purchase. Outdoor has moved beyond the old-school static billboard, bringing new and interesting life to customer engagement.