oOh! on the evolution of Classic

It’s no secret, the Out of Home industry is on the rise.

In Q3 of 2019, members of the Outdoor Media Association of New Zealand (OMANZ) delivered $36.07m up from $29.53m in the same period in 2018.

And looking at 2019 YTD, revenue was up 18 percent for the same period in 2018.

Driving much of this growth is the rise of digital, but that’s not to say it is necessarily taking the place of Classic (aka known as static or poster sites) Out of Home. Rather, the number of sites, in general, is on the rise and static still has a major role to play in the future of Out of Home.

oOh!’s Street Furniture assets are representative of this with more than 3000 classic sites displaying posters nationwide, and 300 digital screens distributed nationally. Within the retail footprint, where digital deployment is more cost effective the ratio of classic to digital is reversed.

It was 2015 when oOh! launched its first digital screen and now 15 percent of its total inventory is digital but in explaining this, general manager Nick Vile is quick to point out that doesn’t mean a 15 percent decrease in its Classic sites.

“We have just as many posters as we did when we launched digital and we are still investing in them. Many of our digital sites have been completely new installations, not conversions of existing Classic sites. This has enabled us to expand the coverage of our total network and maintain the scale of our traditional Classic network.”

In the media mix

With oOh! offering both Live (digital) and Classic, it’s not just a case of clients having to choose one or the other. Head of Sales Ben Gibb says two formats have distinct roles and when oOh! gets a client brief, it will assess if the solution is best suited for Classic, Live or both.

He says the benefits of Classic haven’t changed and those are the ability to reach an audience efficiently at scale and owning locations with 100 percent share of voice on sites.

On top of this, Classic delivers on visibility factors such as illumination, positioned at eye level, and orientated to maximize visibility.

“The nature of street furniture Classic is that it is ubiquitous with distribution along bus routes including into the suburbs, so there is a lot of posters. Clients tend to buy hundreds of posters in a standard broadcast campaign and you can position your campaign outside just about any point of interest you like – say supermarkets or stadiums or wherever your audience is likely to be – with 3000 Classic posters, you really can’t beat that reach and proximity opportunity,” Gibb says.

Digital has introduced the flexibility for advertisers to add dynamic messaging to their Out of Home campaign – for example, changing pricing or tailoring a message to location, time or environment.

“Many clients now utilise both formats building base coverage and scale as efficiently as possible with Classic and then adding a dynamic digital layer where they can change offers and pricing or make the message more relevant and engaging,” Gibb says.

And looking at where Classic fits into the wider media mix, again he references its reach while also adding its ability to be a primer on the path to purchase.

“It can reconnect the consumer with the message they have seen on TV or digital,” Gibb says.

“That still remains a core role of the channel for many advertisers, as a companion channel for TV or digital A/V campaigns priming consumers close to the point of purchase.”

But is it as simple as taking a still from a TVC and putting it on a poster?

To this question, Vile says the best Classic campaigns are those in which the Out of Home creative development has been prioritized and considered in the front end of planning, rather than being an afterthought.

“When Out of Home has been an afterthought, that’s when you get suboptimal results. The current thinking is that creative execution contributes up to 50 percent of a campaign’s success when measured against recall metrics,” Vile says.

“When you get planning front and centre and it’s leading the creative thinking, that’s when you get the best results.”

It’s also important to consider what the audience is doing when they see a poster, and Gibb refers to the 80:20 rule that 80 percent of viewers are in a vehicle and 20 percent are walking past or waiting at the bus shelter.

The creative can’t be overly complicated.

“The majority of the audience are driving past so if you design it for drivers who are in a moving car, they haven’t got time to sit there for 15 seconds and read it, you have to land that message in a few seconds, and that goes for most Out of Home formats” Vile says.

Going where the people go

Underpinning oOh!’s model is its funding of public infrastructure or street furniture, that houses its advertising assets.

Appearing in the form of bus shelters and the like, those sites are funded by an advertising model, which includes manufacture, installation and ongoing cleaning and maintenance.

In Wellington, its street furniture has expanded to include pedestrian shelters allowing pedestrians protection from the elements at major intersections.

Given the nature of this Public: Private partnership and the fact that oOh! is providing public amenity through the deployment of street furniture infrastructure it is incumbent on oOh! to have broad coverage across bus routes.

“Councils want us to have broad coverage of bus shelters and public amenities. Buses go where the people go so we need to ensure our network aligns to that”

That need to have a network at scale has evolved considerably when you consider the changing face of urban areas, and Vile uses the example of Auckland’s population density changing in the last five years, which is even more significant than 20 years ago when the company’s first bus shelters where seen on the cityscape.

“We have tried to optimise our network as we’ve gone. We are looking at the obvious areas where population has grown as the city has expanded and council now needs us to have a presence. Our audience reach for advertisers has naturally grown as we have grown with the city.”

He also gives the example of its work with Christchurch’s council to make sure it’s lining up with the rebuild of the city.

And beyond the main met cities, Vile says the network is continuing to expand as the population increases in the key regional centres.

“The population and density in different areas means we have to continue to invest and provide amenities and the upside for advertisers is that we are able to deliver that mass reach at scale.”

From printer to the street

Alongside the moves forward in targeting, the impact of digital has led to improvements in the production process for oOh!’s Classic campaigns.

Gibb says the evolution of the printing process through digital printing technology, has improved the speed and quality of the product.

Outside printing, Gibb adds oOh! is also working to reduce the lead time on Classic campaigns through efficiencies in the process from production to installation.

“Our clients have challenged us to get the lead time shorter,” Gibb says.

And out on the street, oOh! is busy giving its older sites a facelift, while all Classic sites are being converted to LED illumination.

Gibb says LED technology is more sustainable and efficient, while also delivering improved illumination quality look for advertisers and a far better outcome for the environment.

“We are still investing in Classic and see a massive role for it to play alongside digital.”

This story is part of a content partnership between oOh! and StopPress.

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