By Mike Cearley
Media consumption and consumer behavior and “always on” technology have evolved to such a high point that there is no longer an easy formula for moving someone down the decision/purchase funnel. That same technology has transformed the places and things around us into consumption & interaction “screens” – “Out-of-Home” is no longer just the mass awareness platform that agencies and brands have relied on in their media mix to achieve maximum impressions. There is a “new” Out-of-Home and it’s all about engagement.
I don’t like the “Digital Out-of-Home/DOOH” moniker. I’m starting to dislike “digital signage” just as much, but unfortunately, these are the two most widely-used terms in the industry. Ask anyone in the industry what they actually do, and 9 people out of 10 (if not all 10) will give you a response with “DOOH” or “digital signage” in it. And if you asked them what exactly that is, I’d put a solid bet on a response that included something like this – “it’s a network of screens held together by digital technology.
Network. Screens. Digital technology.
Bleh. 1995, anyone?
Is OOH, DOOH, and digital signage anything more than Awareness Out-of-Home? Digital signage (technology + a display) has enabled brands to be more effective at creating awareness, with dynamic loop times and dayparting and on-the-fly content updates, but at the end of the day, it’s all about pushing content out to as many eyeballs as they can. It’s about impressions. OOH/DOOH can be an extremely effective channel at achieving those impressions.
Here’s the thing(s) about Awareness though:
- Relies more heavily on the channel (or “screen”) than it does on the brand story
- The media component is driven by mass reach, not targeted personalization
- Brand is at the center, communication is to many
- It’s a push message, meaning it’s a “talk-to” communication, meaning it’s a 1-way communication, meaning there is no real brand/consumer engagement
- Consumers are guided down the funnel, literally, by screen (the placement of the screen guides the brand story)
- The technology is the thing which keeps everything connected
This is the “new” OOH and this is its potential.
Engagement Out-of-Home is predicated on the understanding that a) everyone and everything is connected and b) the places and things around us have the ability to be turned “on.” Everything is a screen, but the screen is not what makes up the network in Engagement OOH; the people make up the network. They are made stronger by technology – enabling technologies here, not display technologies – and brands can and should take advantage of these developments. Engagement OOH provides a unique opportunity for brands to go beyond just being there and allows them to tell their story in a way that they would not have otherwise been able to tell it – in an individual, 1-to-1 engagement. (And it doesn’t have to be on a mobile phone. It can be on a floor in a store.) It’s less about the technology and more about the interaction. That’s the nut – engagement OOH enables brands to be more effective at driving interaction – not awareness – on everything around us.
As compared to Awareness OOH, Engagement OOH:
- Relies more heavily on the brand story than it does on the channel (or “screen”)
- The media component is driven by targeted personalization, not mass reach
- In one sense, the brand is can be the center, but communicate to one. In another sense, the consumer is at the center and the brand has the ability to engage with them. The key is that it’s a personalized communication
- It’s a push/pull message, meaning it’s a “talk-with” communication, meaning it’s a 2-way communication, meaning there is actually real brand/consumer engagement
- Consumers are guided down the funnel by interaction
- The brand story is the thing keeps everything connected
I just look at it a little bit differently. For every action, there is a reaction and we have the responsibility, not to mention the opportunity, to be there and interact and have a 2-way communication so the relationship doesn’t end as soon as they walk away. It gets stronger. I believe that can only happen through engagement.
It’s important to note that I am not a media guy and never have been. I’ve always been an experience guy, so that’s immediately where my mind goes, regardless of the “channel.” I love this space because it truly is a blank canvas, not confined by structure or surface, or technology or medium – only by the limits of our imagination and the strength of a brand’s story.