The Inevitable Union of Mobile and Outdoor (15/04/13)

The impact of digital and social media on advertising has never been greater.

Digital has touched every aspect of business and personal lives, including news, media, social and of course those advertising dollars, but it is the new explosion of mobile meeting with outdoor that might just be the most significant yet. 2012 saw the year of mobile, 2013 could be the year when mobile integrated with Outdoor to supply the advertising world with a superior marketing proposition.

Interactivity is at the heart of such explosions but it isn'™t new. The advent of Bluetooth saw the birth of outdoor advertising's digital interactivity where, for the first time, poster could originate content on to a mobile device. Unfortunately for Out Of Home it never really turned into the diamond that some hoped it would be; it was deemed to be intrusive and unusable. However, during this period, the industry has been concentrating on one off structures and digital screens, but apart from a nicer looking display, nothing has really changed or has it?

The industry is excited about NFC, but the real buzz should be about using triggers in posters prompting consumers to engage in searches for further information about a brand or a product via their phone. Whether it is through NFC, QR, WiFi, Facebook or Twitter it doesn'™t really matter. What matters is that outdoor is activating contact on a mobile phone. It will be the connection that will allow the marriage of mobile and outdoor. Advertisers can now influence consumer behaviour whilst on the go like never before. The caveat here is that advertisers need to ensure they do not abuse the new found value exchange. When content has no value it becomes intrusive and irrelevant. Posters are only genuinely conscious when the content is creatively brilliant, relevant, personalised or engaging. Get this right and there is an opportunity to extend the relationship with the customer past the poster into the world of social and beyond.

Take the single billboard bookings, or 'one site wonders'™ as they are affectionately known that have hit the headlines this year. Job hopeful Adam Pacitti spent his last £500 on a billboard, advertising for employment. The poster caused such a stir across social and mainstream media that he recently took another billboard advert to celebrate a new job. Inspired by this, The Sun journalist Lee Price recently put up 3 billboards to invite people to interact with him in online and real life; but this can't happen for a brand, right? Wrong. Unilever's 'Even Angels Will Fall' augmented reality campaign with Lynx with only 2 sites proved this by generating 1 million hits online.

In a digital age, Out Of Home is quickly becoming established as the natural gateway to drive interaction through social media that is providing the power to change consumer behaviour and has brought a more granular level of measurability.

The inevitable union of outdoor and mobile means we can now evaluate not just the impact of outdoor advertising but track the action it has prompted consumers to take, thus the year when outdoor met mobile.

Chris Forrester is Commercial Director at Primesight.