Can OOH Out-Trend the Trends?

Not only is it encouraging that OOH was included as one of the four trends in a recent Marketing Week article that will redefine media in 2017, but it’s even more exciting that OOH lives IN ALL FOUR of the trends mentioned.

Certainly, out-of-home’s ability to transform into an interactive channel in which impressions evolve into immersive brand experiences has been and continues to be gaining traction across brands big and small. The old adage of “go big or go hOOHme” is driving advertisers and agencies to truly unlock the creative impact of the medium. And yet we see the power of OOH being unleashed across the other three trends mentioned in the article.

Live-streaming is evolving from seat-of-the-pants PR gimmickry to the digital version of reality TV. It will leverage the engagement of social networks that connects people from “what has already happened” to “what is happening right now.”
Out-of-Home, through the ever-growing network of digital roadside and place-based screens, can stream real-time data to these screens to deliver a more engaging and “call-to-action” communications to drive consumer response. McDonald’s digital OOH campaign advertised hamburgers that were priced based on real-time falling temperatures in the market: 39¢, 35¢, 31¢. Or Bass Pro Shops’ Black Friday promotion. Or Target’s campaign that featured different products based on availability informed by their store inventory database… in real-time. I have, in my desk drawer, a digital campaign for Buffalo Wild Wings that would set the high water mark for an interactive, traffic-driving digital OOH campaign (they are not currently a client).

With the infusion of mobile (trip-path) data into the next generation of out-of-home audience and impression measurement, the industry will continue to peel back the layers of the “audience” onion to understand, at a granular level, audience composition, trip purpose, trip origination and destination. This transparency of audience and impressions will earn credibility for the medium from advertiser and agency CMOs. No doubt the recent “Feel the Real” campaign developed by OAAA and Matt Dowshen at PCNY will continue to have legs to further enhance the medium’s real-world impact.

The medium would also benefit from transparency in media transactions. The ANA report this last summer brought into focus that the lack of transactional transparency has led to improper rebates and “arbitrage” media pricing out of sight of the buyer. And it’s not surprising to hear that the OOH industry has problems it needs to address. Too many stories of impropriety and too many “blind eyes” have led to this indictment, which is, unfortunately, earned. It’s time for industry organizations, media vendors, advertisers and agencies alike to demand a protocol for transparency… it’s critical in order to maintain an environment for growth.

Finally, OOH can flourish when screen preference gives way to audience-centric media planning and buying. “Screen Agnosticism,” as the article predicts, will continue to be infused into strategic media planning. And while out-of-home can benefit from this evolution in the approach to media, it will, if things remain the same, under-participate in the upside for three reasons:

1. The access to inventory, pricing and availability will continue to be siloed within media vendors, adding friction to the plan/buy/execute process within a well-oiled screen-agnostic ecosystem.

2. At 5 percent share of media dollars spent, the medium needs more than audience validation to pull budgets from other channels.

3. The industry won’t coalesce around the need for an industry-wide plan/buy/execute platform… an Amazon for OOH. Media owners open access to inventory, inclusive of their “secret sauce,” within a real “friction-removing” planning platform that also connects to agencies, programmatic and other buy-side platforms. Remove friction from the buy side, and agency CMOs will be asking why OOH isn’t included in more media plans.

The opportunities for OOH are within reach, if only…

A vision for the future of out-of-home here.


Howard Greiner is President and Chief Operating Officer of Buntin Out-of-Home Media, the leading independent manager of out-of-home media in the U.S. Howard also serves on the Board of the Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB), as well as on the Marketing Committee for the OAAA. For additional insights into OOH as a medium, check out the Buntin Out-of-Home Media blog here.