Indoor outdoor flow: new Adshel study keeps it personal, offers a glimpse into the modern human condition

  • Media
  • July 12, 2012
  • Ben Fahy
Indoor outdoor flow: new Adshel study keeps it personal, offers a glimpse into the modern human condition

In an effort to better understand modern consumers and their media consumption habits, and at the same time facilitate a rethink about outoor media among media agencies, Adshel recently conducted an in-depth study combining quantitative data and ethnographic insights. And, according to marketing manager Emma Barnes, the results of the 'Inside Outdoor Lives' study "really backed up our beliefs and strengthened our case of the benefits of Adshel".

Barnes says Adshel hadn't done any formal research since 2008, and with the big changes in media consumption and technology use in that time, she says it needed something new and robust. So, back in November last year, it worked out what it wanted to prove and disprove and developed a series of hypotheses for three different demographics (see list below for some examples). 

Main household shopper

  • I have added things to my shopping list as a result of seeing an outdoor ad.
  • It is not uncommon for me to be on my smartphone while doing my grocery shopping.
  • I enjoy when I can interact with an ad (like downloading music, free Wifi, redeem a coupon) when waiting for transport. 


  • Overall I spend more time away from home than at home.
  • If I like something and I can afford it I will generally buy it. 
  • I avoid TV commercials when possible. 

Socio 1&2

  • I hardly watch TV nowadays.
  • I notice when outdoor advertising changes as I take the same route everyday.
  • I’d be open to technology that would make my life easier. 

It then interviewed over 800 people online (281 of them in New Zealand), and invited a subset of around 20 to participate in an ethnographic study in New Zealand conducted by the Real Ethnography Company

The participants weren't aware it was a study for Adshel or the outdoor industry, and they were left to go through their day as they normally would, which meant, as Barnes says, they "weren't possums in the headlights". The findings were then triangulated with the quant data and, as the video below shows, the study offers an interesting insight into changing media consumption habits—and, more holistically, modern life (Barnes says there were very little difference in the results between Australia and New Zealand).

In many ways, the study proved what was intuitively known and had long been shouted about by Adshel and the rest of the outdoor industry. But general manager Nick Vile says it was important to try and "understand the whole story"; to find out how people were consuming different kinds of media, how they were using technology and where Adshel fitted in. 

One criticism often directed at outdoor is its inability to target. You pay for eyeballs, but they're not necessarily the eyeballs you want. That's unavoidable with a broadcast medium, of course, but Vile says the study also helped proved that Adshel, which can also target around tertiary, malls, service stations or certain radiuses, is able to get in front of certain tough-to-reach segments, if only because one of the out-takes of the study was that some of them travel to-and-from work the same way every day and notice the ads. 

The study also proved that outdoor helped drive home messages seen on TV and this backed up Adshel's strength as a media multiplier. And, as one 'adultescent' respondent says, at a time when many consumers are fast-forwarding through ads on their recorded TV shows, blocking digital ads or moving away from traditional print media, one of the major strengths of outdoor is that you can't escape it. 

Check out the final videos for each segment on or watch them below. 

Main household shopper:


Socio 1 and 2

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