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Guest Column: Digital is catalyst for convergence of media

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Guest Column: Digital is catalyst for convergence of media

For many, digital OOH is all about digital screens but I think otherwise. The link may not be immediately obvious, but in fact digital and OOH (Out of Home) are at the early stage of a relationship that will lead to new ways for advertisers to form stronger relationships with their customers, drive search, and boost sales. I think this will move OOH from ‘passive’ to ‘active’. For me, digital is really glue for convergence of many medium.

Today you can link OOH to radio or print through digital – be it through QR codes, augmented reality, NFC or visual search. Beyond this, the new synergies between OOH 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 in more and more productive ways, thanks 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 smartphones. 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 above mentioned 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. What’s becoming increasingly clear is that the mobile will form a bridge between OOH and other 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 OOH, 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?

The bigger picture for OOH 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 OOH media – our initiative OCS (Outdoor Consumer Study) to be launched in May 2012 in India demonstrates this.

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.

The author is Managing Director, Posterscope Group India


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