Digital marketing has long been recognized as an essential part of any successful business. This year it’s set to replace TV as the top advertising medium in terms of ad spend for the first time. But recently the sector has been facing significant challenges in terms of ad blocking as well as concerns over viewability and ad fraud.

As a result, website owners are increasingly turning to more traditional forms of advertising to find new ways to build their online brand. And Out-of-Home (OOH) has been found to be a promising offline advertising medium when it comes to driving online activity.

What is Out-of-Home Advertising?

Out-of-home advertising is any advertising that reaches consumers when they’re out of their homes (duh!), i.e. on the street or in other public spaces. Billboards are the most instantly recognizable forms of OOH, but the medium extends far beyond that.

When you start looking for OOH advertising you’ll see it almost everywhere.
Transit advertising reaches commuters and residents in busy metro areas like subways or bus stops. Vehicle wrap-arounds on buses, vans or other vehicles make advertising messages mobile. Street and mall furniture target consumers in specific locations and reach shoppers when they’re close to point-of-purchase. And you’ll find digital advertising panels in cinemas, post offices, petrol stations and other out-of-home locations all over the country.

The OOH advertising industry is increasingly leaning towards digitization with the growth of Digital billboards, smart cities and other forms of DOOH (Digital Out-of-Home). And that’s where the medium works beautifully with digital marketing.

Why Do You Need to Know about It?

A recent study by global marketing researchers, Nielsen, found that OOH triggered more online activity than any other offline advertising channels.

Billboards, bus shelters and other OOH formats provide more online activity per ad dollar spent than TV, radio and print. While it only accounts for 7% of the total advertising spend in the US, OOH delivers 26% of gross online search activations generated by TV, print, radio and OOH combined. In other words, a quarter of online search that is generated by offline media comes via OOH.

Nielsen’s study found that over the last 6 months, 46% of US adults used Internet search engines to look-up information after seeing or hearing an OOH advert. Nearly 40% posted on Facebook or visited a Facebook page in response to seeing an OOH ad.

Part of OOH’s power to drive online traffic is due to the rise of mobile search and Social Media. As anyone might have noticed, people spend significant amounts of time on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram while they are out of home, particularly when commuting. With few competing distractions to occupy consumers, OOH ads are incredibly effective when it comes to stimulating mobile activity.

How Can You Use Ooh to Drive Online Activity?

Using OOH adverts to drive online activity can be as simple as including a memorable URL or hashtag on your billboard or bus stop poster. The impact of a well-placed OOH ad can be multiplied many times over through the use of social media engagement. But when used creatively alongside new technology, the possibilities are endless.

For example, Digital advertising panels allow for real-time connections with social media feeds. Cancer Research UK successfully linked social to DOOH earlier this year in order to raise awareness for their fundraiser events. They used their social media channels to encourage followers to post images of themselves using the tag #RaceLace. Tagged user-media was then shared live via 140 digital screens across 25 London Underground stations. This real-world incentive resulted in increased social media presence, as well as raising awareness of the fundraiser events in some of the nation’s busiest metropolitan locations.

Netflix took the live hashtag feed one step further with their Daredevil DOOH campaign. By integrating a digital billboard with live Twitter updates, the campaign encouraged passers-by to use hashtags to “join the fight”. Twitter users could support their favourite Daredevil character in a virtual battle by using the tags #Elektra, #Punisher or #Daredevil to inflict damage on the other characters on the billboard. The result was trending hashtags across Twitter, as well as a barrage of Social Media attention and free, unsolicited web interest in this unique example of creative advertising.

Pepsi-Max famously used just a single OOH advertising panel to create viral online content in their “Unbelievable” campaign. The brand used a digital screen at a bus stop alongside Augmented Reality technology to launch passers-by into unbelievable situations. After capturing Social Media’s attention with a highly entertaining video of the ad in action on their YouTube channel, Pepsi then launched an interactive online campaign. They encouraged YouTube users to upload their own ‘Unbelievable’ pieces of video to the YouTube channel. The campaign proved to be immensely popular with the brand’s 18-34yr old target audience and resulted in content that received over 50 million views online.

Use Digital Marketing Tools to Inform OOH Decisions

Not only can website owners use OOH to drive online activity, they can also use digital marketing tools to create effective OOH advertising. Their ready access to customer data and online tools like Google Analytics, places digital marketers in an optimum position to benefit from the opportunities provided by OOH.

For example, before committing to an OOH campaign, digital marketers can test their ad creatives online to see which messages generate the highest click-through-rates, most page impressions and longest dwell times.

Website owners can also use online data to assess which OOH locations would be most effective in reaching their target audience. IP addresses and mobile tracking can be used to identify which locations see the greatest click-through-rates and conversions. Once you’ve pinpointed the locations that index highly for consumers interested in the product or service you’re selling, you’ve got a pretty good idea of which OOH sites would be most effective at reaching them. And the more effective your OOH, the more successful it will be at driving your online activity.

Historically, OOH marketing has always been the reserve of those companies with big marketing budgets. However, these days digitization has made it much easier for small businesses and start-ups to access the medium. Digital-out-of-home panels avoid expensive print costs and allow for greater flexibility when it comes to renting specific time slots in as many or few locations as desired. And now, there are several online companies offering click-to-purchase OOH advertising space (e.g. SignKick) that allows advertisers to choose precise locations and formats according to their budget.

With this improved OOH accessibility, rise of DOOH and access to digital marketing tools that can inform OOH advertising decisions, website owners are uniquely placed to take full advantage of the opportunities OOH advertising offers the online world.

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