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A future for out-of-home with mobile? – Haresh Nayak

04-August-2011
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A future for out-of-home with mobile? – Haresh Nayak

From the consumers’ point of view the future of mobile phones seems to be all about apps; but from the advertisers’ perspective, the future of mobile may be all about… posters. The link may not be immediately obvious, but in fact mobiles and out-of-home (OOH) are at the early stages of a relationship that should lead to new ways for advertisers to form stronger relationships with their customers, new ways to drive Search, and new ways to drive sales.

Beyond this, the new synergies between out-of-home and mobiles should lead to new levels of accountability, which will help bring every advertiser’s dream of payment-by-results closer to reality. People are spending more time out of home than ever before – up to 50 per cent more in some markets since the mid-90s – and they’re using their time out of home in more and more productive ways, thanks largely to the increasing functionality of modern mobiles.

The combination of technologies that now live in many phones make new forms of communications with consumers possible. Posterscope in the UK has recently been involved in a fascinating pilot study using the ‘Point and Find’ app available on Nokia smart phones. This app allows users to access information simply by pointing their phone at a poster that has been “tagged”. Then, the phone’s camera, GPS technology and internet connectivity combine to send the user the associated content.

Building Bridges
In the study, users could access a range of helpful local information as well as appropriate content created by advertisers. For example, pointing your phone at a movie poster accessed a trailer. Other advertisers offered price promotions, competitions, and links to social networking pages. This is just one app on one phone but there are other parallel technologies being developed that perform similar functions.

In India, the best example being Burrp app, which allows consumers to search local restaurants, beauty & health clinics and so on. QR code will increasingly play an important role in creating consumer connect.

What’s becoming increasingly clear is that the mobile will form a bridge between out-of-home, and further content, whether accessed online or downloaded directly to the phone. We now know that consumers are keen to interact with posters in order to pull useful content into their phones. For them, it’s a way of adding value to otherwise potentially low-value time. For Out-of-Home, it’s a further demonstration of something our research has already shown – that posters and online work very well together. And for advertisers, it creates a whole new area to explore, with potentially lucrative results.

Clearly, it’s not going to do much good to throw any old content at consumers. Advertisers have to ask key questions before deciding how to use this new medium: what kind of relationship do I have, and do I want, with consumers when they’re out of home? How should my brand behave in this new arena? How can we offer value to consumers here?

We Want You
The bigger picture for out-of-home is that we are now seeing fully integrated industry audience research (roadside, transit, environmental) around the world. At Posterscope, we have taken this further by investing heavily in understanding how consumers behave out of home and how they interact with different out-of-home media - OCS, our Outdoor Consumer Study, which is now in 14 markets with 100,000 total sample globally, tells us this.

Now the evolution of ‘Point and Find’ can show us who’s been motivated with a call to action by viewing and interacting with the poster site. The reward for advertisers will be a greater ability to track the effectiveness of their advertising, follow the consumer journey through to sales, and, therefore, move closer to payment by results.First, though, they have to think about developing high-value content. Ask not what consumers can do for you - ask what you can do for your consumers.

(Haresh Nayak is Managing Director, Posterscope India.)

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