OOH Will Become More Digitally Driven in 2021

Digital billboard with different companies logos.

The world has changed greatly over the past 20 years with technology advancing to new heights beyond our wildest dreams. Essentially every field of work has changed the way they operate with new technology emerging and making our lives more efficient and fast-paced. In other words, technology gets the work done in ways that humans simply cannot. The advertising industry is no different since they’ve been making use of new and emerging technologies to connect and engage with consumers and build brands.

Everyone knows that to stay ahead of the competition one must constantly innovate. Not only must advertisements be creative, they must now keep up with the digital era if they want to succeed in the highly competitive world of marketing and sales. Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is no different, as companies take advantage of the many new ways to stay ahead. Nobody wants to see the same boring static posters and billboards plastered on bus stations and highways, people want fresh content that will make them excited to purchase from your business. Nothing achieves that better in the 21st century than digitally driven advertisements that are built to engage and captivate an audience. In this article we will explore key reasons as to how OOH advertising will become more digitally driven in 2021 with programmatic advertising, augmented and virtual reality, and a post-pandemic society. With some revolutionary examples to follow, it will be evident that with ongoing technological advancement, digital OOH advertising will be the way of the future.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising is a fairly new concept that involves automated buying and selling of digital advertising. These ads allow advertisers access to vender-neutral real time bidding, reaching a mass audience (about 98% of the internet), including Google and Facebook ads. This allows the highest possible amount of impressions for advertisers. By having this one-to-one advertisement buying process, it creates efficiency for advertisers since they no longer have to meet with the salesperson to make a deal. With the use of software to buy digital advertising it is now easier than ever to negotiate a deal. With better planning and better optimization, programmatic advertising is the path forward for advertisers and buyers alike.

According to a report by Econsultancy and Quantcast, a digital marketing organization and an AI technology company respectively, 62% of marketers were using programmatic ads to meet core brand goals, with the projection that 65% of digital media or more will be programmatic in the coming years. IAB programmers manager, Dee Frew, stated, “real-time advertising is an auction-based model, whereas programmatic is the full breadth of automation.” Since everything in our modern day society is moving towards automation, it becomes apparent that programmatic advertising will be the way of the future.

Augmented/Virtual Reality

iPhone showing augmented reality of Pokemon GO.

It comes as no surprise that augmented and virtual reality have taken the world by storm. From video games, to education, to advertising, companies are taking advantage of this new-found technology to increase consumer engagement and boost brand awareness. Virtual reality is a simulated experience that shows the user a completely different version of the world whereas augmented reality is an interactive experience that uses objects in the real world to manipulate our senses and environment. By creating these immersive environments, companies are able to make emotional connections with users by engaging them with their products and services in ways that would be impossible otherwise. It is predicted that by 2022 applications with AR will grow to 4,670,800 million worldwide and standalone AR application downloads are predicted to grow to 1,389,000 million.

People want to connect with the brands they are purchasing from, and what better way to do that than changing their environments and heightening their senses? This is the perfect time to invest in these new technologies as people are getting stir-crazy from pandemic-caused lockdowns and restrictions. Augmented and virtual reality gives users new experiences that would otherwise be impossible, especially during a worldwide pandemic.  

A Post-Pandemic Society

Surely no one was expecting there to be a worldwide pandemic that would drastically change the way we live our day-to-day lives. With tight restrictions on social gatherings, lockdowns, social distancing, masks, and even curfews, companies must now find new ways to engage with their audiences. Since people are mostly leaving their houses only for essential shopping and services, OOH advertisers in particular must now think of creative ways to reach consumers. Not only will advertisers have to change the locations in which they place their ads, they will also have to be extremely cautious when deciding on how they will interact with their audience.

More than ever, people want the companies that they purchase from to be aware and mindful of the hardships that many have endured due to the pandemic. This gives the perfect opportunity for marketers to create new strategies as to how they will interact with consumers. This is where DOOH (digital out-of-home) comes into play. According to eMarketer, a market research company, DOOH programmatic ad spend will double year after year, reaching $533.8 million by 2022. By using DOOH, marketers can keep their messages relevant to the post-pandemic society we now live in and deliver the most memorable campaigns possible.

BON V!V Spiked Seltzer Virtual Vending Machine

Bon V!V spiked seltzer ad campaign showing their drinks, a map of their stores, and a smartphone with the AR app.

A cool OOH augmented reality experience was launched by Bon V!V Spiked Seltzer, an alcohol beverage company. They placed murals around Los Angeles and San Diego that allowed passersby to scan a QR code to activate the immersive environment. With a simple tap, consumers were then able to place a virtual vending machine where they were standing to browse different flavors that the company offers and dispense their favorite from the vending machine. After the exciting animation, they were then able to either directly purchase the product and get it delivered to their homes within hours, or view a map that would show where the nearest store location was to purchase their very own spiked seltzer. By creating this immersive augmented reality environment, the company was able to engage with their audience in a fun way and boost sales by creating a call-to-action,  instantly directing consumers  to their own delicious seltzer drinks.

Pepsi Max Bus Shelter

Pepsi Max bus shelter showing the AR windows experience with a person using their smartphone in front of it.

Pepsi Max used augmented reality to create an interactive experience for people who were bored waiting for the bus. This ad campaign was placed around bus shelters in London, England to promote their message “Live For Now”. The AR experience transformed bus shelters into fake windows which would showcase unbelievable scenarios that included asteroids falling to the earth, laser-shooting robots, a tiger on the loose, and more. The illusion was created by placing cameras that would capture passersby on the street, making it look like the unbelievable scenarios were happening right in front of their eyes! Stephen Van Elst, executive creative director at Spinifex Group, stated, “this is a great use of augmented reality to deliver a live experience. It’s communicating a message – the idea of ‘unbelievable.’ In terms of brand building, augmented reality being a tool to build a brand is a more complex question, but this is definitely a good use of appropriate technology to deliver clearly on a message.” Pepsi Max’s take on augmented reality allowed them to boost brand awareness in a unique and engaging way as people were talking about the campaign all over the news and social media, thus reaching over 385 million people in total.

Terveystalo’s UVC light

UV light terminal showing where to place one's phone to get sanitized (writing is in Finnish).

Ever since the pandemic began, leaders in the health industry and government officials have been constantly reminding us to wash our hands, wear masks, and socially distance ourselves. In order to make people more aware of the deadliness of viruses and bacteria, companies are using creative ways to remind people of the importance of proper hygiene and sanitization.

Terveystalo, a Nordic health company, created an innovative OOH advertising strategy by placing billboards in the most crowded spaces (shopping malls in Helsinki and Turku in southern Finland) that allow people to disinfect their phones. Their stations have UVC light technology that allows passersby to insert their phones into the terminal for only 15 seconds. When the time is up, their phone emerges clear of viruses and bacteria, including the infamous coronavirus. Veera Siivonen, marketing and communications director at Terveystalo, stated, “in the midst of a global pandemic, having a strong immune system and practicing proper hand hygiene is highly important. This project is also a reminder for people to take care of all aspects of their health and billboards are a great way to spread this important message.” This is the perfect example of a company that used the pandemic to spread awareness and at the same time, create an innovative OOH ad campaign.

To Conclude

As we enter 2021 it becomes more evident  how much technology continues to impact our lives. The OOH advertising industry is no different as companies struggle to create innovative and engaging ads that will captivate an audience during the harsh times of the pandemic. As the world rapidly changes, companies must work quickly to catch up by changing their marketing campaigns to match the new ways of life. By using programmatic advertising and augmented and virtual reality, companies are able to take their ads to the next level. With the emerging post-pandemic society a lot has changed, human interaction is limited so companies need to figure out new ways to promote their brand.

People are more cautious of their purchasing decisions, social distancing and mask-wearing is the new norm, and sanitization is more important than ever before. These changes in our world have forced companies to adapt by coming up with ad campaigns that are not only creative in the technological sense, but also thoughtful in terms of the new post-pandemic society we live in. With the uncertainty that our world still faces, people want an increased level of certainty in the products and services that they purchase. For this reason, we can be positive that 2021 will bring highly innovative ways to advertise by using technology and the knowledge we have about the coronavirus to engage with audiences from all around the world.

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