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‘Connecting with the connected’

By Gautam Bhirani - June 20, 2018

In a world where even relationships are digitised today, it is vital to assess the impact of OOH on the digitised consumers

Attention is one of the most scarce and important resources today and as we get more connected in this digital world, and yet attention is only going to decline. The information explosion has triggered the ultimate battle for attention. As we go through this transition where communication is personalised, contextual and tailored to our interests, there has been a major impact on the effectiveness of traditional ways of reaching a consumer. 
While mediums like print and television have seen a decline in ad revenues in different markets, the OOH story is quite different. With tech giants like Google, LinkedIn, Apple, and Facebook taking to OOH in a big way, the media inventory occupancy has been relatively high; so, for media owners, digitising their inventories wasn’t really needed to fill that leaky bucket. But, in the world of ad blockers there is a greater opportunity to take the OOH media into future for unparalleled impact outcomes. 

The Attention Economy

In a world where even relationships are digitised today, it is vital to assess the impact of OOH on the digitised consumers.
With our connected networks expanding each day, our minds have been virtually hijacked by our phones; emails are personalised; friends and family demand attention on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram; Twitter has become our voice; Tinder drives dating; and LinkedIn has become our professional portfolio. With an abundance of information and messages thrown at us each day we have developed noise filters, a way to ignore ads. There is a whole new ‘Attention Economy’ that has taken deep roots.
Against this backdrop, marketers today are looking for ways to reach out to their target audience in an uncluttered and non-intrusive way and that gives OOH an edge over other media. With brands showing faith in the medium even in this digital age and with the kind of connectivity and data available, there is a fantastic opportunity to transform the OOH landscape from a modest monologue-driven static display into a smart, data-led, dialogue-driven canvas.

The Opportunity 

In this Digital Era, when most marketers think about Millennials they commonly group them as digital natives, that are connected and tech savvy, with high purchasing power and a highly influential demographic. What’s important to know is that he Millennials are also Creators, they curate their own content, capture moments instead of living them, are self-absorbed and do not respond to ads. Over 60% of the Millennials use ad blockers and find mobile advertising intrusive and annoying. Who likes a forced push of an ad on YouTube or a video ad insertion between a Facebook video? As a consumer, even though the ad is targeted and contextual it hampers my experience. 
This intrusive clutter and saturation of online space makes it imperative for one to learn from the existing audience behaviour to build disruptive ecosystems that provide delightful digital experiences. OOH is a trusted, non-intrusive and non-interrupting media, and the OOH industry needs to leverage the technologies to make capital of the emerging consumer engagement opportunities. Over last 7-8 months I have met quite a few AdTech start-ups that are working on platforms focussed on data, automation, proximity targeting, device identity and facial recognition. This could be a new journey for the OOH industry too with some of the tech entrepreneurs stepping onto the DOOH landscape. As more devices and physical assets connect, the implications for advertising will be revolutionary.


Digitisation & Industry Unification 

In recent times, the number of digital displays have rapidly increased, creating new consumer touchpoints. However, DOOH has not been used to its true potential as most marketers and media agencies only consider it as an extension of traditional OOH display that runs ads in a digital format just like a flex scroller. The problem is not with demand side but the supply side. While we are still far from digitising the urban landscape because of regulatory issues, there is already a profusion of digital inventory available in environments like airports, railway stations, shopping malls, eateries & business parks. However, most of the DOOH media owners have not invested in building meaningful, robust, connected networks. For most it is just an opportunity to multiply existing advertising revenue, with DOOH asset owners working independently and selling in different formats like cost per panel, 15 seconds slide that is repeated all day and all month which really doesn’t solve a purpose. 

There is a strong need to connect the available digital inventory and build a unified, holistic, location-based ad network that will standardise the metrics for buying DOOH space and delivery of hyper targeted content in the right context, location and time. 

Betting Big on DOOH

Gone are the days when a 3D cut-out on a modest billboard was called Innovation. As the digital marketing industry faces challenges like ad blocking and concerns over delivery, fraud views and ad absorption, digital marketers are on the look out for new effective connected omni channels. 

With growing mobile audience, display networks, increasing urbanisation and fragmentation of all major media demand, the OOH industry in India is in the midst of a major digital revolution. Digital marketers have started recognising DOOH as an effective channel to integrate data-driven smart campaigns. At BarTalk India our last 3 major campaigns came from the digital marketing teams and that was a proud moment for us as the inventory was sold at CPI, CPM & even Cost Per Second. With change in buying metrics, content delivery is also evolving. The 30-second dumb mute TVCs and JPEGs are now being replaced by shorter, dynamic HTML pages that are capable of broadcasting Live dynamic updates, APIs are being integrated and social media channels are being plugged in a way that brands are now using their social media influencers on our network to connect better with the connected Millennials. 

These integrations have caught the audience attention, with the displays getting smarter, relevant and contextual. Learning from audience behaviour in this digital world, we need to transform digital displays into digital ecosystems that blend with the urban landscape. The Internet already has changed how we communicate and get influenced, made ‘Me’ more important than ‘You’, got us addicted with instant gratification in form of Likes, Comments, Views and most importantly taught us how to ignore ads. These are some key factors that need to be taken into consideration as we take a step towards building disruptive digital ecosystems. 

Stepping into the Consumers Shoes 

Being a Millennial myself and hijacked by the smartphone, I decided to build a platform that would grab my attention by replicating the content I am most likely to engage with on my smartphone in a similar visual design format. At BarTalk India, our focus has always been on the connected Millennials and things they do both online and offline, and we weaved the entire journey of a hyper social Millennial to create a new digital ecosystem and the results have been overwhelming as our canvas is now part of their hyper social life.

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