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All Signs Point to Engagement

  • October 14 2011

On his flight from New York to Chicago, a business traveler watches Wall Street updates on the seatback screen on the aircraft. In a Dallas pediatrician’s waiting room, a young mother and her daughter see messages about children’s health. At a Maryland racetrack, a Las Vegas resort is offering a special getaway package on a big screen easily visible to thousands of gamblers.

These are the stereotypical ways marketers think of digital out-of-home (DOOH). But the market is on the verge of a significant shift.

Consider these potential scenarios: Landing at O’Hare, the business traveler flashes his smartphone at an interactive screen and quickly downloads a Groupon offer for half off at a restaurant near his hotel. In the pediatrician’s office, the daughter uses her mother’s handset to play a game related to the healthy eating broadcast and wins a sample of a new whole grain cereal. After hitting the daily double, the visitor to the Maryland track celebrates in the bar, tweets his good fortune and sees his message tagged on the screen above the bar.

Mobile and social applications are changing the way consumers can interact with DOOH media. Emerging technologies such as near field communication (NFC) will allow consumers in close proximity to a digital display to connect to get more information or receive special offers. Location-based applications and contextual targeting integrated with DOOH messaging can deepen consumer brand engagement.

Ad-supported video screen networks that have proliferated in bars, restaurants and retail locations can be used to drive location-based mobile check-ins via services such as Foursquare proprietary app downloads.

It’s no wonder that the DOOH market believes mobile to be the technology that will have the greatest impact on the market. The 2011 Digital Signage Future Trends report published by DigitalSignage-Today.com found that 60 percent of respondents believed “interacting with mobile” would have the greatest impact on digital signage over the next two years. That was followed by “audience recognition/measurement” (34 percent) and “social networking” (33 percent).

Other technologies promise to link out-of-home with social media. This past summer, for example, Coca-Cola Israel worked with Publicis e-dologic to create a kiosk that used facial-recognition technology to allow attendees at an event to post their experiences directly to their Facebook wall just by looking at the machine. The application recognized the person and posted an automatic comment, relevant to the attraction closest to where the machine was located.


Greater engagement, strong ROI

With its ability to engage and deliver messages in a relevant context, digital out-of-home appears to be a rising star in the media market.

“Digital out-of-home provides the ultimate in behavioral targeting,” says Garry McGuire, CEO at RMG Networks, a nationwide DOOH. “It captures active consumers at the time they are most receptive to marketing messages.”

Overall, U.S. DOOH operator revenue grew 15.1 percent to $2.07 billion in 2010, according to a PQ Media study issued earlier this year. The digital place-based network segment was worth $1.54 billion while digital billboard spending totaled $532 million. In 2011, PQ Media forecasts the U.S. revenue will grow an additional 16.7 percent to more than $2.4 billion.

“In an economic environment where every single ad dollar must work double-time, digital place-based is emerging as a highly desired media choice because of its ability to engage consumers on the go,” says Mike DiFranza, president of Captivate Network and chairman of the Digital Place-based Advertising Association (DPAA).

According to DPAA, more than 85 percent of media planners are planning to use digital place-based media in 2012, up from 75 percent this year. That increase comes at the expense of traditional media, such as broadcast TV, outdoor and digital/online, the association said.


Wide reach and more consistent metrics

Via DOOH, TV screens deliver content that provides context-sensitive information, entertainment—and advertising messages—to millions of viewers each day.

According to the most recent numbers from Arbitron, the availability of digital place-based video has reached a critical mass: 70 percent of U.S residents aged 12 or older have seen a digital video display in a public venue in the past month; 52% recall seeing one in the past week.

Viewers in the Arbitron study also indicated they engage with the content from digital place-based video. Nearly half (47 percent) of those who have seen a digital place-based video in the past month specifically recall seeing an ad. More important, nearly one in five (19 percent) said they made an unplanned purchase after seeing an item featured on the screen.

However, DOOH faces several challenges in telling its story to brands and marketers, including the wide diversity of DOOH venues, each with its own audience and media characteristics. Until recently, it was difficult for advertisers to attain their desired scale on a national level or track ad placements effectively.

“Today, there is consistency in advertiser materials, research you can count on and proof of play,” says Chuck Strottman, senior director, marketing, RMG Networks. “As a result, more agencies are including DOOH in their media plans.”


Delivering active consumers

From airports to taxis, health clubs to coffee shops, office waiting rooms to racetracks, DOOH delivers an active consumer audience. “The power of place-based DOOH signage is that the shopper is already there,” says Philip Cohen, CEO of Care Media, whose networks reach consumers in medical practitioners’ waiting rooms. “It’s not a matter of finding shoppers; it’s a matter of engaging them.”

Yvonne Pettus, national sales manager at OnTrack Media & Entertainment, notes that DOOH delivers certain audiences far more effectively than a mass media campaign. Noting that OnTrack’s portfolio includes three horse-racing networks, she says, “Our demographic is six times more likely to attend a casino than the general public. So advertising a venue on our network makes sense. It’s specific targeting, rather than using a shotgun approach.”

Pettus adds that OnTrack’s research shows high levels of engagement and ad recall, as well as overall return on investment. “Brands that are capitalizing on our screens are getting great responses,” she says.

A DOOH display at the Black Eyed Peas concert in Central Park used LocaModa’s technology to interact with Twitter users at the event.