So far we see two distinct trends: either the DOOH activity has been planned to amplify a primarily social media campaign, or social media has been the means of drawing attention to the digital out-of-home activity. With the former, content from social media channels is delivered dynamically to digital out-of-home media. In the latter, more often than not user generated content is produced through engagement with outdoor media, and then subsequently delivered to social media channels. The distinction in these approaches can be clearly seen in a number of the campaigns Grand Visual has produced recently as well as other notable campaigns we weren’t lucky enough to work on.
Wieden+Kennedy’s “We Want Piers” campaign for Visit Wales used digital out of home formats to display content pulled from the campaign's Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel. The purpose of the DOOH was to complement what was a social media campaign, as Piers Bramhall and his girlfriend Emma Foley went on their first “proper holiday” to Wales. According to W+K creative director Ray Shaughnessy, the digital OOH element was a great way of keeping people “in the loop of the adventure as it unfolded.” In a sense the digital OOH was a window onto the content in the social space – a taster.
By contrast, the recent Foster’s Gold Smart/Casual campaign from Adam & Eve, used interactive screens at bus shelters to offer an entertaining experience - inviting people to dress up in a “smart/casual” outfit selected from a digital wardrobe and then share the resulting images online with friends through the brand's Facebook page. The DOOH activity provided the primary channel for consumer interaction, there being no online equivalent, and the Facebook page was used to focus attention on the outdoor creative rather than the other way around. Although, the digital out-of-home complemented a wider media plan, the bus shelter interactive was the event.
Indy Saha, Being London’s former Chief Strategy Officer, points out that “if consumers’ habits around other media have become interactive, participative, in real-time, then why haven’t posters evolved in a similar way? Why don’t we turn the poster site into an actual event itself, rather than something you could walk by and easily miss?” That thinking lay behind the British Airways’ Caribbean Destination campaign, developed by Being in March this year. The BA campaign used social media to draw attention to a live, interactive event on Ocean Outdoor's Eat Street site at the Westfield shopping centre in West London. "One of the things that we didn’t want to do on Facebook, quite deliberately, was allow the same level of interactivity that you could have while you were there, because we wanted to create this sort of 'by appointment' event feel", explained Saha.
A similar principle proved effective for the Hyperspace produced Mini Countryman campaign which took the old idea of "how many people can you fit into a Mini?", and gave it a decidedly modern twist. Using digital production techniques members of the public could be filmed at a live site, then be projected onto the inside of the windows of a specially constructed model of a Mini Countryman, creating the impression that many people were squeezed inside the vehicle. Users could contribute video and photographs of their participation to the brand’s Facebook page, raising further interest and driving traffic to the nine installations around the country. The campaign resulted in 12,000 people participating, hundreds of videos being shared on Facebook and through email, and hundreds of interactions being streamed to the Mini site. The campaign also won a Festival of Media award.
Whilst the majority of social media integrated campaigns have fallen into one of the two camps described above, occasionally campaigns have a foot in both. A good example of this is the Colgate “Keep Britain Smiling” campaign from July this year. Created by VML London, the campaign aimed to collect one million “smiles” throughout the summer. Colgate pledged to turn the collected smiles into a £100,000 donation to the Barnardo’s charity. People could upload photographs of themselves smiling to the campaign Facebook page as well as comments and “likes”. All input added credits to the “smile-o-meter”. Using Grand Visual’s OpenLoop platform, the posted photos were dynamically fed to digital OOH sites to provide a nationwide gallery reflecting and showcasing the online activity. In addition, the campaign also featured an experiential event at the Westfield shopping centre in which shoppers were encouraged to “share a smile for charity” by having their photograph taken, with the resulting images instantly screened on a large digital billboard and on the campaign’s Facebook page. The campaign was able to use the experiential event to raise the profile of the social media activity, and vice versa.
So it looks like these two channels may become powerful bedfellows particularly as mobile takes a leading role in facilitating social interactions. If there are any learnings thus far they are that for digital OOH to amplify social activity it is key that any infrastructure and bandwidth issues are tackled and that the rules of communicating to an out of home audience are upheld – keep it simple! For interactive activity in outdoor to work well and translate to social, it is important to deliver both an easily accessible experience and a simple process for generating and contributing content. As Indy Saha points out “You need to look at user experience. If you can make it seamless... That’s when I think it will start taking off.”
Despite the apprehension around such activity, in recent months, here at Grand Visual we have noticed a rise in the number of interactive DOOH campaigns taking place and enquiries about producing such work. It therefore seems a good time to revisit a panel discussion on the topic of interactive digital out of home held during the FLEX: London DOOH conference back in May.
The panel consisted of Suneil Saraf, Media Group Manager of PHD Media; Scott Davies, VP UK & Ireland of Never.no; Justin Gibbons, the Founder of Work Research; and Dan Dawson, Digital Director of Grand Visual. Moderated by industry commentator Ivan Clark, the discussion covered aspects such as engagement, cost, creativity, metrics and return on investment.
Generating interest & engagement
As Scott Davies explained, the real power of interactivity is its ability to raise interest in a product or brand by motivating the consumer to interact with that brand’s advertisement. A consumer may be unaware or disinterested in a product, but when presented with an engaging interactive experience they frequently have a desire to participate.
Scott drew on his experience in developing the Be Stupid campaign for Diesel in Denmark which utilised consumer generated content. People were encouraged to take photos of themselves "being stupid" and then post them to a dedicated Facebook page. The content was then delivered in real-time to DOOH sites. Scott suggested that major reasons for people’s willingness to engage with the media was because out-of-home, like television, is usually a closed media channel, and that people “love to see themselves in or on things”. This viewpoint was supported by Dan Dawson who witnessed the same enthusiasm for big-screen interaction from members of the public presented with the GV produced augmented reality-based Angel Ambush campaign for Lynx.
Research carried out by Justin Gibbon’s company, Work Research, concluded that once a consumer is engaged in a brand or product through an interactive experience they are more likely to have a positive perception of the brand, and be open to further engagement. As Scott pointed out “it’s a bit of fun for them, but really you’re making the brand stronger”. People will share the experience with their friends, and the campaign may also generate additional earned media through press coverage or social media sharing. As Justin stated, As Justin stated, interactive advertising has a far greater chance of fixing itself in the consumer's memory than other forms of advertising. In addition, in the case of campaigns such as Be Stupid, the process of interaction facilitates the collection of consumer data, enabling the brand to build up a database of engaged individuals that are likely to be receptive to future marketing.
Return on investment
The issues of return on investment and relative cost are problematic ones for interactive DOOH. Such campaigns are frequently seen as being time-consuming and costly, and accurate assessment of their effectiveness can be difficult to achieve. Suneil Saraf admitted that, unlike TV or the web, there is no standard model for ROI assessment, but argued that with DOOH “you’re really dealing with people’s long term associations with brands”. He suggested that what needs to be measured is what happens after the interaction. “Do they wander into your store? Do they tweet about you?”
Using the examples of the PHD Media planned Cadbury’s Spots v Stripes and Creme Egg campaigns he demonstrated that interactive DOOH doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive and can deliver calculable ROI. The Spots v Stripes launch campaign, which consisted of two interactive games produced by Grand Visual, played out at nine locations at a cost of approximately £100,000. In each location the activity engendered a positive response, particularly amongst the young, with people playing the game, taking photographs, sharing the experience and subsequently accessing the campaign website to register their points. By the conclusion of the launch, the interactive DOOH activity had become the third most recognised piece of media from the campaign. Likewise, the Creme Egg campaign, consisting of a game running on twenty interactive screens at bus shelters around the UK, resulted in one million games being played over two weeks—on average two thousand games a day—and a twenty-five percent uplift in understanding that Creme Eggs are only available for a limited time.
The cost-effectiveness of interactive DOOH was reinforced by the comments of both Dan Dawson and Scott Davies. Scott referred to a campaign for Skoda that encouraged consumers to interact by text which resulted in 600 text responses, leading to 60 new vehicle sales over a period of two weeks. Dan (and Jeremy Way of Mindshare Invention later in the day) pointed out that beyond the immediate on-site impressions (estimated to be over 100,000), the Angel Ambush campaign produced significant ancillary media coverage, with the video of the event generating over 900,000 views on YouTube, and led to news articles in mainstream and industry publications. When considered in such a context, the per event or per location cost for such an interactive DOOH campaign can be seen as delivering a good ROI.
The panel agreed with Suneil's statement that it can be a heavy investment, but as Scott pointed out, the increasing number of campaigns has led to agencies and production companies to steadily develop technology and systems to make the process quicker and more cost effective, so it is often not as expensive as one might think. The challenge facing those creating and producing interactive DOOH is greater than an issue of cost—it is making those campaigns relevant and engaging to an audience. "It's not a case of taking a TV ad and sticking it up on a screen somewhere, it’s coming up with an original idea and making sure it fits in with the particular channel and environment you’re working into" said Suneil.
The panel agreed that production costs will inevitably come down for many interactive campaigns as processes become more standardised. Additionally, methods for more accurately assessing impact, engagement and ROI are likely to develop in the near future. The consensus was that, although challenges remain, new developments such as NFC-enabled smartphones, mobile augmented reality, and location based technologies mean that the potential of interactive out-of-home media is only just starting to be realised.