Mobile & Those Outdoor Banner Ad 'Thingys'
While wading into the waterfall of tweets on “the Twitter” a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon one that I wish to heaven I could properly attribute. But alas, all I can remember is the gist of the message and not the sender. It went a little something like this:
At conference & I swear this 20something speaker just referred to billboards as “You know, those outdoor banner ad thingys.”WOW."
Wow is right. That single tweet sent my head spinning. Was this a simple gaffe by a young speaker or did it point to something more problematic with marketing education today? In our lust for all things digital, were we losing touch with some of the tried-and-true marketing tactics that still deliver meaningful sales and brand awareness? And on a personal note, was I now officially an “old fart” because I can articulate what a billboard is without resorting to digital analogies?
Inspired to find the answers to these questions and more, I did a bit of digging and discovered that out-of-home (OOH) advertising revenue actually grew 4.2% in 2012 to account for $6.7 billion of overall advertising spend in the U.S. According to eMarketer, that number actually eclipsed the $4.1 billion spent in Mobile marketing in 2012. However, eMarketer also predicts that 2013 will be the year that Mobile ad spending eclipses OOH spending--$7.3 billion to $7 billion.
“Mobile to surpass OOH for the first time in 2013” sure makes for a bold headline, but what I find interesting is how similar both categories really are. Consider:
- A sizable portion of Mobile advertising could be considered a part of OOH as it takes place away from home.
- In both
categories, form factors shape creative—in Mobile, ads must often be sized down while in OOH, brands must often accommodate viewing at a considerable distance.
- With the emergence of DOOH (Digital Out-of-Home), both categories increasingly provide location-based targeting options to advertisers.
- In 2013, each category will account for a little over 4% of total ad spending in the U.S.
With these similarities in mind, travel marketers might be wise to consider Mobile and OOH as sides of the same coin, helping each generate a higher ROI. I’ve already observed some great billboard campaigns (both digital and traditional) in which hotels encourage travelers to book via their smartphone while on the way to Vegas or other traditional destinations. However, as we navigate these new Mobile/OOH connections, we need to keep some key considerations in mind:
1. Design for Legibility. If I had a dollar for every time a mobile banner ad on my smartphone was illegible, I’d be a very rich man. Sadly, the same thing holds true for the “mature” billboard medium. Leave the heavy copy for your website. Your Mobile and OOH creative should be legible whether you’re holding it in your hand or viewing it from 500 yards away going 70 mph on the highway. Don’t leave this determination to your designers—it’s a matter of marketing quality control.
2. Brand with Authority.If the purpose of your ad is to sear your brand in viewers’ memories, then don’t relegate your brand to a small corner of your overall creative. Make it the hero of your Mobile or OOH story. Remember, you’re aiding the brand recall of a person who may never have heard of you, so be bold!
3. Be Specific and Directive. If immediate sales or bookings are your goal, then embrace a clear, instructive call-to-action via each specific channel. Mobile ads do well with “Click here to buy/view/download” call-to-action. Thanks to today’s mobile-connected consumers, OOH ads can also be digitally directive—“Call us now,” “Book Now on our Website,” “Download our app,” “Text-in and save!” The key is that you have a singular call-to-action so as not to clutter your OOH message.
4. View Your Ad “In-Nature.” I have actually seen a highway billboard with a giant QR code. A QR code!!! How the brand thought someone would be able to scan the image at 70 mph is beyond me, but it points to the importance of having your designers mock-up your ads as they will appear “in nature” with respect for rules of the associated environment. Former Kodak CMO and author Jeff Hayzlett often recounts their movie theater ad buy that had an SMS call-to-action—a call-to-action that appeared after the standard-issue call to “turn off all cell phones.” Thinking through the environments in which your ads will appear helps keep OOH from becoming OOPS.
2013 may be the year that Mobile ad spending surpasses OOH spending, but the two categories are inextricably linked. The best travel marketers will exploit this connection by using OOH to drive direct mobile response. And maybe, just maybe, when they do, those “outdoor banner ad thingys” will get the respect from Millennials—and digital marketers in general—that they so richly deserve.