Recently I went through a most disconcerting experience that saw me stranded, cut off from my fellow mankind all encompassed by the onset of a social sweat fearing I'd missed out on the latest Instagram picture from yet another blogger who'd probably uploaded at least 10 'selfies' before I'd digested breakfast. Yes, my internet connection was down as was my feeling of being linked to events out in the big wide world.
During my dark time with the disconnected Internet, I happened to notice a paper (!) magazine that helpfully categorised my anxiety as nomophobia, an abbreviation for 'no-mobile-phone-phobia'. Apparently 53% of the British public suffers from acute anxiety when their phones are out of reach. With 60.4% of us in the UK owning a smart device surely the onset of separation anxiety is set to increase as penetration widens.
This got me thinking about how the reliance on mobile phones or smart devices as part of our being or feeling more human could benefit the world of OOH. TV is now consumed with second screens and their associated apps, as that industry realises that few of us now watch TV without another device. Managing wandering eyeballs away from commercials and onto associated programme content via tablets or mobiles that viewers are using during ad breaks is set to become a serious source of revenue.
But how can OOH connect with consumers? Primesight is leading the way in better understanding consumer interaction between their mobiles and OOH; the world of retail is an engagement heaven. Primark is rumoured to be opening an e-commerce site to jostle amongst the plethora of choice already out there and no doubt their app won't be far behind and why not as mobile commerce as a whole grew by a further 300% between 2011 and 2012 . Even NFC's acceptability is growing, as the likes of Samsung and Android handsets now include it. With a growing willingness to connect alongside ever increasing tech capabilities, OOH is positioned perfectly to run alongside this new world.
The development of new technologies means that OOH can now respond to the challenge of encouraging a deeper relationship between consumer and mobile. By turning our 6 sheet estate into key activation points and allowing consumers to shop wherever they are, pedestrian placed posters are able to drastically shorten the consideration to purchase route. With a variety of applications, such as Shopwyre, they can also strengthen a brand's stand-out in e-commerce when compared to a supermarket's website. Consumers simply scan, tap or hover the poster, choose the variety, size and quantity of item and it's added to their basket ready for checkout when they complete their online shop. From poster to kitchen cupboard in three easy steps, all enhanced by Outdoor's readiness to engage closer with the consumer.
But our committed investment in OOH's very near reality doesn't stop there. Geo-fencing gives the opportunity to send bespoke push messages such as money off vouchers, through tightly targeted virtual perimeters created around retail located poster sites. Over and above trying to help the customer travel down the road to purchase destination a little quicker, geo-fencing capabilities allow us to delve inside the consumer's mind and find out why, how and what they think of the brand they've been in touch with. So not only does OOH fulfil its traditional branding role, but simultaneously can enter the ROI playing field with greater confidence and garner valuable consumer insight to boot.
Before we get carried away, it's realistic to say that just because the technology is there doesn't automatically mean natural adoption and wide spread usage, but we are working hard to break down the barriers. Ignition testing and the increasing role of mobile has provided OOH the opportunity to influence consumer behaviour. As media owners, we are ready to supply advertisers with learnings and insight into how well they've captured the consumer attention and how it can be improved upon next time round.
No matter which way we look at this, the future (in fact imminent) generation of OOH sits in multiple hands, but undeniably a large share of it in ours. We're all in this together so I suggest we huddle up tightly for the group selfie and show how OOH can get a slice of that 'always connected' pie.
Rubbi Bhogal-Wood (twitter @rubbiprimesight) is the Agency Group Head - North & Midlands at Primesight