When you have a Ferrari why drive it like a Volvo? (11/09/13)

When you have a Ferrari why drive it like a Volvo?

Outdoor media owners have yet to fully leverage the flexibility and possibilities digital assets now afford, says Primesight's UK leader.

Following the Olympics and a year with no major global events to speak of, many predicted it would be a challenging year for Outdoor. It is heartening therefore that the first half has seen a pretty positive market and the recent full H1 results make for a glowing read for OOH.

Outdoor achieves double-digit lift

Perhaps the most encouraging statistic is that Outdoor is up 10% from 2011. In fact, it seems to be the strongest performance of the so called (but increasingly out of date terminology) 'traditional media'€™.

But, was it really just the euphoria of the Olympics? It would appear not. The often cited barometer of Outdoor performance - the 48 sheet - has continued to perform well. Primesight's 48 sheet occupancy levels have averaged over 90% for the first time since it acquired the Titan estate, and the strength of the market and forward orders suggest similar for the remainder of the year.

Change is too slow

Maybe it's no surprise that as the economy steadies itself and the advertising market improves, so does the demand of the brand equity driving 48 sheet. As the health of 48 sheets continues, so seemingly does its large format digital relative.

It's a good indication for the market that fortunes and revenues will continue to improve, but it still feels a little like media owners (and I include Primesight) have a Ferrari but are driving it like a Volvo. Admittedly we're starting to see change, but still too many campaigns are bought along the traditional 14 days cycle. It begs the question of how can we genuinely make it add more and deliver a point of difference to the traditional billboard?

Unlike the place-based and generally small format digital screens (in cinemas, malls, railway stations and undergrounds...Glasgow has one too) large format digital is the only Digital innovation that doesn't obviously benefit the consumer.

This means we need to work harder to make sure that it genuinely feels of benefit to the advertiser. Having grown over 9% year on year on the back of the greatest show on earth coming to town, we might, just might retain most of that growth.

Put the foot to the day-part floor

Imagine what we could do if we started to drive the digital billboards like the Ferrari that they are. Coffee in the morning, motors in the evening rush hour, films at weekend, beer in the evening....all very obvious, but still not being done as often as it should be.

At Primesight we've started to compile evidence from our PrimeMobile smart phone app research tool that identifies when awareness of certain categories is heightened; thus adding science to ensure we're primed to improve effectiveness of digital campaigns.

In fact we should now be looking to find ways of working with the insights provided by other media. If Google can work with brands to predict and respond to a surge in expected cold and flu complaints then digital posters should be positioned as part of the same solution.

Outdoor has more to give

With a continually improving traditional product, digital in almost any environment where large numbers of people congregate on a regular basis, plus an increase in brands wanting to drive behaviour on mobile (what better media to help deliver this) Outdoor is in rude health. Let's just be a little braver on the large format digital and then who knows what 2014 will bring?

@ChrisForrester5, is Managing Director at Primesight.