It’s time to enhance, not disrupt
Last year, I was asked if the development in data and tech will make OOH relevant and help our industry be a disruptor.
First of all, OOH has always been relevant. While data and tech advancements will continue to multiply the options we have to serve the medium, let’s not forget that simply placing a famous figure 900 feet tall overlooking a harbor or in Times Square is both incredibly impactful, and can get in front of the consumer in a way that no other medium can.
Mike Cooper, Global CEO, Enhance
Do I think data and tech will help OOH be a disruptor? In this industry we talk about disruption like it’s a good thing, while the dictionary definition means to interrupt an event or activity by causing a disturbance or a problem. I don’t want to do that. Having just experienced 12 months of disruption in its purest sense, I don’t think anyone wants any more of that.
We want the media we consume to enhance our lives. To enhance is to increase or further improve the value and extent of something, and when I think of the OOH industry, we do that. Take any metro system in the world – take away the vibrant OOH ads, and the environment feels stale and dull. OOH aesthetically enhances the environment, making for a better experience.
OOH advertising also enhances the relationship between a brand and consumer immediately, and with all of the new technology and data available, there will be more ways to do this. Yes, I can put your brand in front of a consumer in an incredibly targeted and accurate way because of the developments in data and tech, but also in a way that does something more for consumers out of home experience. This helps form a connection with your brand that moves beyond simply trying to make them drive a car, drink a soda, wear a t-shirt, or be on a plane.
And so that’s why our business is called Enhance. We don’t want to disrupt your daily life, we want to enhance it. Yes we have tools, technologies and relationships that are as good as the next media agency, where we differ most radically is how we think and what we believe. We genuinely believe in questioning the status quo, making people think more, and aggressively pushing for better in all areas of business, life and community.
OOH shouldn’t try to be like other channels
Technology enables us to do incredible things but if we’re not careful, we’ll do things that we shouldn’t. There’s always the desire to do something that no one’s ever done before, but on the flip side we must also question “well maybe no one’s ever done it before because it’s a crap idea?” It’s important to remember that we are a creative yet strategic industry.
We have access to great tools such as programmatic and automation, and we absolutely have to embrace the data and technology available, but first we need to fully understand it. Think of a calculator. It’s an absolutely incredible device. But if you give a calculator to somebody that knows nothing about basic math, it’s a box with buttons on it.
OOH shouldn’t try to be like other channels just because it can. If I take myself as an example, I see online as being secondary to my life. Don’t get me wrong it plays a role – I log on to my phone or whatever device so many times a day, but I also spend a major portion of my time out of the home. I love it when I can switch off my computer and get outside, and the last year has given me a whole new appreciation of that. We’ve been told we can’t go out of our homes the same way, and the pent up demand for that outdoor activity, travel and interaction is mounting. Once those floodgate open, OOH will be there in the forefront enhancing that experience for of all these consumers.
Brands will need to be seen as authentic to stand out
Every CMO in the world right now is probably talking about how they can become affiliated with the euphoria of freedom. We all want to get out again and hug our family and friends after months apart, or hop on a plane and safely travel around the world. This will be happening across the globe, and the brands that resonate with consumers will be the ones that feel like they are enhancing your life during what will be an exciting time out of the home.
But this will also be an overplayed message, so brands have to find a way to resonate authentically in this space. It will be the brands that genuinely seem to care about what is important to you that will be successful post-pandemic.
OOH is well-positioned to do good for the environment
I hope there will be a lasting sense of community and friendship toward one another coming out of this shared experience – and I believe it is our role in the OOH industry to be a conduit of this.
Let’s hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard of community impact and encourage giving back through every OOH activation. Let’s print on oxidized vinyl that takes pollution right out of the air. Let’s recycle every billboard into school supplies for third-world countries and let’s add a percentage to the cost of every digital unit and only use green energy.
There’s so much that we can do as a collective industry. An industry that is innovative and data-driven, but more importantly an industry that is willing to play an active role in creating a better and more sustainable future. There’s a major opportunity for OOH here, as a uniquely positioned medium that can engage with a consumer in a way that no one else can.