Blurring the Lines Between Digital and OOH; Integration, Please!

There’s no doubt it’s an exciting time to work in the out-of-home industry. We’re in the midst of a transformative age, combining mobile and out-of-home to create some pretty amazing advertising moments.

On the digital side, location and consumer behavior are driving highly personalized content to a user’s device. Where they are in the physical world can determine which ad they’re served digitally. This notion of contextual relevancy is something we all talk about. A brand who can reach consumers in those ‘Micro-Moments’ — critical touchpoints along the consumer journey — will be rewarded for their helpful and well timed messaging.

However, while strong in ascertaining relevancy, digital doesn’t come without its own weaknesses.

Last year’s Feel the Real campaign, spearheaded by the OAAA, exposed some holes in digital marketing. Bots create a real problem with visibility, and mobile-only ads seem to be struggling for clicks and conversions. eMarketer also reported that 94% of total retail sales are still generated in brick and mortar stores, making attribution in online channels hard to weigh. Digital contends with ad blockers and an audience who is becoming more aware of the clutter they’re served online. With online fraud and digital ads that are never viewed, digital spenders are starting to rethink their position.

It reminds me of a few years ago when I sat in a banquet hall, listening to Gary Vaynerchuk (of social media fame) speak to a group of e-commerce marketers. “Marketers ruin everything,” he proclaimed. With a marketing title myself, I tried not to take offense as he declared marketers turned snail mail into junk mail and email into SPAM.

But, he had a point.

We’re now forced to look at how we’ve been doing digital advertising and ask, “Have we ruined yet another thing?”

Maybe not…yet.

Marketers have been thwarting the weaknesses of digital marketing by pairing influence channels (digital) with action-driving channels, such as out-of-home (OOH).

Here on the OOH side, location is our forte. We intercept consumers directly along the path to purchase and where they spend most of their time — out of home! We know that adding OOH to any media mix, especially digital, can amplify the reach of a campaign by up to 316% (source: OAAA). Statistics show that actions, such as visiting a restaurant or store advertised, performing an online search or interacting with social media, are frequent immediate consumer reactions to seeing an OOH ad. There aren’t bots walking around consuming our impressions.

Yet, alone, we struggle with engagement and measurement.

Through the adoption of the mobile + OOH model, we’re making some great strides. Beacons help us navigate through the physical world and may one day influence local SEO results. Wearables are worn by real people — not bots — and drive human interaction while collecting data. NFC sensors and QR codes are becoming better known with 23% of people claiming to have interacted with an OOH ad through NFC/QR, according to Nielsen OOH Study 2016. Digital tools help us measure real-world impressions. We’re blurring the lines between what’s digital and what’s part of our physical worlds. That’s a powerful existence for brands.

Together, digital and OOH can begin to achieve that aforementioned contextual relevancy all brands desire. We can connect with a consumer when and where they need us. We won’t be part of the clutter; we’ll be useful.

Currently, digital and out-of-home are still in separate siloes, disconnected at the planning and buying stages. Imagine how powerful advertising could become if we combined forces. Let’s look at integration across the entire media mix — broadcast, print, out-of-home and digital. Let’s identify ways our individual plans can elicit consumer responses in the other channels.

In other words, stop worrying about whose budget the media plan is coming out of and start focusing on producing more ‘Aha!’ moments for consumers.

Only 8% of companies said they currently provide a ‘very integrated’ customer experience, according to an Econsultancy report. A brand can connect with a consumer online or offline, or online and offline at the same time. Integration is what will drive the future impact of advertising.

Digital and OOH must really commit to collaborating with each other. It’s like the cutesy saying we toss around the office from time to time, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” In addition, we all need to forge wider partnerships. With integrated OOH, we need solid technology partners, publishers and data trackers. This is how we will all make the dream of mobile + OOH come to life.

Is OOH the vehicle that drives the digital message, or is the digital message an amplification of the OOH ad? Either way, integration is good for both sides. Working together, we achieve more actionable data, produce more human engagements and drive real-world conversions.

Emily Fritz
Marketing Manager
do it outdoors media

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