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DM: So Chris, tell us where Primesight sits in the OOH (out-of-home) landscape?
CF: Sure. We have a large portfolio of 6-sheet sites; 9,500 roadside 6 sheets in total, of which 3,700 are outside convenience stores. This is where we have traditionally been strong, but we also have digital screens in 100 cinemas through a partnership with DCM, who sell cinema advertising. These are highly interactive displays because the environment and the context lends itself to that; people are with friends or family, enjoying themselves, willing to try things. We are also in the process of having QR and NFC tags attached to 500 6-sheet sites across the UK in areas where there is greater dwell time and we think people are more likely to interact with them.
DM: And to what extent is mobile on your clients’ radar?
CF: Mobile is growing and getting smarter. Every client is asking for mobile to be on the brief, just as it was with online when that first came around. I think there’s a sense now that outdoor and mobile will have a beautiful relationship. In the last couple of years, the outdoor community has been trying to understand where outdoor fits with mobile and what we need to do to ensure that advertisers and agencies understand the relationship.
When Bluetooth launched it was a great white hope, the feeling that a poster could be more than just a visual interaction, but it didn’t really work, it came to be seen as spam, an annoyance. I think there is similar excitement now around NFC, this idea that the poster is a gateway to an extended communication, where you can enter a competition, download content, look at additional information. It won’t be very long before the poster can recognise you and your phone and deliver a one-on-one brand message.
DM: So what would you say is your USP compared to other OOH companies?
CF: We all have our own place in the market. We’re not interested in the super premium sites where some of the other companies play. We are more into national billboards, but advertisers buy across multiple OOH companies, each with their own sweetspot in terms of inventory.
But there’s more to it than just the poster itself, in fact. We have our PrimeDesign design tool, which uses an eye-tracking algorithm to help create more effective posters for clients.
We also run PrimeMobile, which is a piece of research carried out in partnership with OnDevice Research where we select 250 people from a panel of 10,000, on criteria as granular as people with sensitive teeth for example. Then the advertiser and agency compile a questionnaire. Stage one is a category questionnaire, asking what brands spring to mind in the car market for example. Then when the campaign goes live, they are sent an image of the poster and asked to make a note of any time they see it out and about, including the time, where they were and what they were doing.
Then they are sent another questionnaire with 10 questions, anything from what they thought of the creative to when they are planning to make a purchase, and what do they intend to do next. Finally, anyone who says they intend to take some sort of action is revisited two – four weeks later to get more information to see what they did.
DM: How long have you been doing this stuff with OnDevice?
CF: Two years. When we first launched it, we were charging clients for the research, but it felt like the wrong thing to do, so we moved it to a free offering a year ago, and since then, we have carried out 50 or 60 studies.
DM: Have they thrown up any major surprises?
CF: I wouldn’t say there have been any great surprises, but there are always interesting learnings. Sometimes we find that the audience that is engaging with your OOH campaign is not the one the advertiser was trying to engage with. It also gives us a lot more information about when people see posters. For example, we have seen a heightened awareness of motoring ads towards the end of the day, and this sort of insight obviously feeds back in to campaign planning and helps you make more informed decisions next time.
Outdoor has never been particularly accountable for the most part, but this partnership with OnDevice has helped us to change that. It enables us to show both the effectiveness and the impact of an outdoor campaign in moving a consumer down the purchase funnel.
DM: So what’s next for outdoor?
CF: Like everyone else, we are always looking for the next innovation. I don’t know if you’ve seen Shopwyre, but that’s an interesting idea. It’s a UK-based startup linked to a number of grocery retailers. The idea is that you see a product advertised on a poster, magazine advert, website, add it to your shopping basket, tell the system where you do your online shopping, then it gets added to your basket for the next time you do an online shop. It’s a great way for FMCG brands to move someone from recognising their brand to actually putting it in their online shopping basket, so we expect advertisers to want to use it. But there’s lots of other stuff going on too; our job is to keep abreast of it all and make sure we can help our advertiser clients benefit from it.
Chris Forrester is Managing Director at Primesight.