Is out-of-home the future of video advertising?

As the consumer journey evolves, marketers will need to think beyond consumers’ devices to reach their audiences. More and more people are moving beyond TV, laptop and smartphone screens. According to eMarketer, TV viewership is dwindling, with 60 percent of the US population expected to stream programs by 2022 and 56 million households expected to cut the cord the following year. While marketers begin to lose ground here, other opportunities are opening up out-of-home.

Digital screens are becoming more common on city streets and other public spaces, replacing static signage. And by 2050, 90 percent of the US population is expected to live in urban areas. Those consumers are estimated to spend nearly 70 percent of their waking hours out of their homes. While video advertising is quickly becoming the go-to format for media consumption, platform and audience fragmentation are — unfortunately — increasing at a rapid pace. Therefore, marketers need to take their advertising outside.

Digital audience fragmentation

Among online marketers, brand safety remains a top concern. Negative content adjacency persists for pre-roll video on platforms supported by user-generated content. And while brands are expected to increase digital video spending to US$17 billion next year, 65 percent of people are still finding ways to block or skip these video ads. The use of ad blockers continues to grow with more than 30% of US internet users using one in 2018, up from 15.7% in 2014.

Consumers are bombarded by ads on TV as well, with networks collectively averaging 15 minutes and 49 seconds of commercial time each hour. It’s gotten to the point that some cable networks have announced a reduction in ad loads. The idea? The fewer ads viewers are exposed to, the more likely the messaging will be remembered. In fact, some television networks are now using six-second ads — about as long as it takes to see a digital out-of-home video ad.

As attention grows shorter, so does content

Thanks to Millennials and Gen Z, the average consumer attention span has dropped to eight seconds. According to ClickZ, 33 percent of video watchers lose interest after the first 12 seconds. Therefore, it’s no surprise that short-form content is quickly gaining traction among both social media platforms and audiences.

Thankfully, digital screens in public spaces were built to display short, attention-grabbing content for the on-the-go consumer. The short-form, no-sound videos that are effective online today have been native to the digital outdoor medium since their inception. The ability for advertisers to extend their short-form content on social media to public spaces also creates a great opportunity for a cost-effective eCommerce experience. This short-form content also increases a brand’s chances of getting its message across. However, that content ultimately has to be compelling and clever to garner consumers’ attention.

Switching to digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising

DOOH presents massive opportunities for brands to activate rich, engaging video experiences throughout the underused urban environment and reimagine their video storytelling to reach consumers beyond their devices.

Recent technological advancements for video advertising on public screens can be planned and executed like those online: Brands can plan campaigns based on gross rating points, reach and frequency metrics; They can execute these ads on the basis of target audiences, digital displays, the share of voice and impressions — just like digital video buying. For example, when NBC wanted American viewers to view the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, the company displayed footage of the games on outdoor screens around the US, enabling morning commuters to watch recaps from the evening before or to keep up with medal counts mid-afternoon.

Sorel digital OOH ads change depending on time of day and temperature

Outdoor footwear brand Sorel used reactive digital OOH advertising in the UK, with a campaign that promotes different walking boots not only according to night or day but to the temperature outside. 

The good news with DOOH is that advertisers don’t have to learn new formats or processes, so they can seamlessly extend their digital campaigns. These campaigns are also completely brand safe and viewable, allowing for optimal audience viewing as people move about their day.

Digital out-of-home is the future

Video is transforming the world of advertising and consumer behaviour. As the industry works to solve the current challenges facing digital marketing — and as cities continue to build their digital infrastructure — brands need to use this moment to create more video installations in public spaces for meaningful, breakthrough experiences. Thus, it’s imperative for brands to use this shift in audience and consumer behaviour to reach consumers. It’s also more than an out-of-home discussion: It’s about video strategy.