Outdoor Works: Mapping the evolution of out of home media (26/09/13)

Outdoor Works: Mapping the evolution of out of home media

After attending the 'Outdoor Works' conference held at the British Museum last week, Primesight's Mungo Knott reflects on some of his key takeouts from the event, and charts how the sector is evolving.

'Outdoor Works' is a bold statement to make and clearly indicated a note of intent as the title of the outdoor advertising industry conference held on the 18th September at London British Museum.

The event, hosted in partnership with Outdoor Media Centre and five Out of Home specialist agencies (Kinetic, MediaCom Outdoor, Meridian, Posterscope, Rapport and Talon), brought together a wide range of advertisers and agencies to consider where the evolving but constant presence of the outdoor medium fits into our lives, our marketing objectives and ultimately our media plans.

Confidently bereft of any media owner presentations or industry insiders on the stage, the business of understanding our relationship with the medium was handed over to a wide range of expert speakers who shared their views and experiences with passion, enthusiasm and clarity.

To begin, the audience had their minds expanded by the insight and creativity of David McCandless, whose approach to beautiful information left everybody thinking that they need to reappraise their data charts. An agency perspective quickly followed this on the potential for the application of audience data, specifically focusing on the industry's latest Route research.

Justin Gibbons, creative director of Arena, illustrated an audience based approach to planning outdoor, and the reality of bringing together data from a whole range of areas and integrating these into Route, to enable the development of increasingly specific and bespoke solutions. Gibbons then applauded the collective and collaborative approach that the industry is taking to develop this work and bring it into the wider market.

Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, took to the stage and changed the focus from data to emotion and culture. Starting with a self confessed love of Outdoor, he explained how he had used it at critical moments to build his business. He saw the potential to use the democratic and national consciousness of the medium to bring the world's largest art exhibition to the streets, with his ground breaking Art Everywhere campaign.

Continuing the theme started by Gibbons, Reed commended the industry for its collective and cohesive response, which had made this dream become a hugely successful reality.
Verica Djurdjevic, MD of PHD, then took us further into the understanding of how and why outdoor advertising can be so powerful when it harnesses the power of contextual relevance. The challenge that she identified is to bring this understanding further into the planning process and she shared her four key pieces of advice:

1. Demand more from your media agencies and media partners by asking them to plan with context.
2. Get the creative agency to design with context in mind.
3. Don't be afraid of the cost of production.
4. Understand and set the right KPI's.

IPA Effectiveness Awards are rightly a highly sought after accolade and Marie Oldham of Havas reminded us that to win one, you need to show a proof of evidence that the campaign has created positive ROI. Oldham explained that in the last year, 10 of the 12 Gold Award winners had used outdoor advertising as an element of their campaign.

With outdoor accounting for just 10% of total media spend, this is evidence of a powerful conversion to success rate. In the toughest of measures, the IPA is showing that outdoor works.

The pace at which technology is changing the landscape we live in is accelerating beyond preconceived limits, and David Rowan from Wired magazine showed the conference how fast the speed really is. He took us a few more steps into the future to illustrate how connected we can become to everything that we interact with; wrist band controllers, bio metric implants, teddies that monitor the health of their owners and commercialising 3D printers for all are just around the corner.

Stefan Bardega from Mediacom picked up the theme of connectivity and offered his perspective on the influence of the development of digital. He Illustrated how this technological change is enabling a whole new range of interaction capabilities to connect clients and their audiences, and how this extended engagement isn't just fun but delivers real incremental value on the metrics of change in attitude and intent to purchase.

Bardega also drew attention to the ability of technology to change the levels of connectivity within the business process of buying and selling Out of Home. He is convinced that this can offer real financial economies within the cost chain sighting both in the advertising industries approach to digital trading in the UK, and early tests on trading digital OOH in the United States.

Concluding the impressive conference agenda, Tim Spencer from Truth showcased the latest in semiotics research to obtain a deeper understanding of how and why outdoor works as such a powerful medium within the public consciousness.

He identified its importance as cultural signage giving relevance to the public spaces we occupy together. With natural and contextual repetition of exposure we develop trust in the brands and messages we are exposed to using our most powerful sense - sight.

Spencer explained that the most powerful ads give us an internal reward as we see them enrich our daily lives, whilst also adding health and vitality to the brand, a type of Vitamin D which will help the brand to prosper.

This was, in fact, a conference that lived up to its name. By connecting, influencing activating, amplifying and inspiring, the audience was in no doubt that indeed, Outdoor Works.

Mungo Knott, twitter @1mungo, is the Marketing and Insight Director at Primesight.