[This is an article I wrote for the Brand Republic blog over here].
I recently read an article over at Media Week which discusses some innovations in the outdoor sector. It got me thinking about how outdoor has changed in recent years.
You see, for a while back there outdoor had a swagger in its step. There were few better channels to generate awareness, and the sector showed growth for 20 consecutive quarters.
But then something happened.
Bored of being shouted at, people wanted to engage with brands instead.
Bored of having every brand shoved in their face, people wanted only relevant brands to engage with them.
Bored of engaging in isolation, people wanted to share their experiences with their friends.
This wasn't good news for the outdoor media owners who owned a passive medium that couldn't be targeted to any degree of accuracy. People weren't engaging with them and they weren't sharing any of their content. Outdoor was shouting against the wind and budgets were diverted away from it.
Things had to change and I think two factors have helped give outdoor a new lease of life:
The first factor is technological change.
Technology has allowed outdoor to embody the quality of TV broadcasting with the interaction of digital technologies. People can experience richer content, interact with it and share it with friends instantly – something Profero and Posterscope took advantage of for its Mini Countryman campaign. Recent advancements are improving targeting (such as recent studies into relaying relevant information to consumers dependent upon what mood they’re in) and this improvement will remain key if outdoor is to continue improving its ROI. It's fine proving you can hit lots of people, but hitting the right people is integral to a successful campaign.
The second factor is a shift in mindset.
The recession has helped democratise channel planning, with good agencies and brands being channel neutral when planning campaigns. The days of default TV and outdoor activations spearheading a small BTL budget are over for many brands, with many more utilising the most relevant channels for their aims regardless of tradition.
This has caused the subtle shift of mindset which means agencies are now wondering how outdoor can augment their overall plan instead of lead it.
However, the media industry itself can't rest on its laurels. The article in Media Week is titled 'The Future of Outdoor' and they should be wary of that title. You see, it's a report on what's happening now. If they believe what happens now is the future then they'll end up back at square one.
Keep innovating. Keep experimenting. Outdoor has gone from coolest kid on the block to one of the crowd - now it needs to make sure it doesn’t end up as the last kid that’s picked for the football team.