I nearly embarrassed myself. I was at The Advertising Club's Wednesday event in New York on the state of the OOH marketplace. During the first panel, moderated by our own Steve McClellan, I was about to stand up and ask about new out-of-home marketing technology as a channel for one-to-one, contextually, and day-part relevant marketing.
And I was going to ask about whether the smart phone, Internet-everything and connected everything is artificially distinguishing OOH from everything else. Thank God, I didn't, because I was also going to mention that scene — you know the one — from “Minority Report,” the one all marketers talk about. I thought it would be clever.
I dodged that one. Later in the panel Jill Nickerson, SVP and director of OOH at Horizon Media, brought up that very scene, just to promise that she wouldn't mention it, because using the scene has speculation exercise has jumped the shark (has "jumped the shark" jumped the shark?) But she also talked about where OOH should be. "I won't do the obligatory mention, but the question is how do you get consumers to look up, how do you interact with them, and how do you measure engagement.”
Indeed. The problem is the same, to some extent, as it is with online advertising overkill, and plummeting ROI on traditional ads. Along those lines, here's another movie situation people don't talk about too much: "Blade Runner," whose urban future is a dazzling sensory assault that takes out-of-home to its logical, mind shattering extreme: too many messages in too many places at too high a volume, perpetually speaking to you, whether that be collective or the individual. Ethical and aesthetic concerns aside, increasing noise means diminishing returns.
Clive Punter, CRO at Outfront Media, said he's pretty bullish on the potential of out-of-home from the perspective of marketing commitment. "There is a significant transformation in the U.S. And in Europe, where outdoor has 10% of share. In the last five years we have seen strong technology advancement [in terms of] how it overlays other media." He added that this is how younger media planners are thinking of all media. "A 20-something media planner says 'digital is the answer, is what is the question?'"
While Ryan Laul, director of media firm [d] Theory, and Tim Daly, co-founder of Thinaire, argued in the following panel that chasing technology for the sake of technology is a waste of time, Josh Kruter, VP of digital product at Clear Channel Outdoor, said technology should be delivered to the middle part of the OOH journey between planning and insights and ROI. "The middle is [where technology] is executing and evolving the campaign and making sure it's contextually relevant." In other words, he said, it has to feed into who the client and agency partner want to reach.
Ultimately, what technology can do on billboards, panels, walls, corridors, stanchions and other places, is create cross-channel — and cross-platform — engagement. And it lets you follow a consumer's movement from, say, an out-of-home display on a bus shelter to a store. And, as with digital ads on devices, volume probably means less in most cases than the quality of the interaction where consumer and OOH media intersect.