- 17th Monday 2012
- Global Advertising
In recent years, we have appropriately seen a great deal of attention paid to advertising in new media. Without a doubt, we see a dramatically different media landscape than was the case ten years ago. As a result, we have recently seen a substantial volume of articles published focusing on topics such as advertising over the internet, mobile television, SMS and social media. Additionally, considerable attention has been paid to other promotional techniques, such as product placement and sponsorship, which have taken on increased importance due to changes in the media landscape.
While attention to these areas is necessary and, indeed, essential, it is also important for us to not lose sight of the fact that traditional media are attempting to find mechanisms, often related to technological innovation, to cope with and thrive in the new media environment. Thus, I would like to encourage research ers to consider topics that address new developments in traditional media such as television, radio, magazines, newspapers and outdoor advertising. While there have been some notable exceptions the proportion of academic arti cles on traditional media in major advertising journas over the last several years has become quite small.
Outdoor advertising, which is now more properly referred to as ‘out of home advertising’ because of the range of formats that have evolved, provides a good example of how recent innovation has changed a medium dramatically. Moreover, in the case of out of home, it can be argued that new media have created more opportunities than threats for the out of home industry due to the frequent use of out of home to communicate a website address and, increasingly, for other IMC-related applications involving technologies such as QR codes and Bluetooth. I’ve recently had the chance to meet with Stephen Freitas, Chief Marketing Officer of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, and am very impressed by the industry’s ability to adjust to the new environment and new technologies. I’d like to note a few of these specifically to demonstrate how adaptation of ‘traditional media’ to key trends is critically important. While I real ise that some of this discussion will be from a US perspective, I s spect similar trends are highly in evidence in other parts of the world.
One major development in out of home advertising recently is the growth of formats other than billboards (see Outdoor Advertising Association of America 2010). While. billboards still accounted for 65% of out of home expenditures, other categories, including transit (e.g. airports, buses, truckside, rail, taxi) at 17%, cinema at 10%, street furniture (e.g. bus benches and shelters, kiosks, bicycles and bicycle racks, shopping malls and pedestrian panes) at 6%, and alter native out of home (everything else from airborne to dry cleaning bags to stadium advertising) at 2% have grown considerably. Some of these relatively new formats provide opportunities for advertisers that did not exist previously and open the door for very creative approaches, such as Apple’s out of home campaigns for the iPod and iPhone that depict both the product (e.g. a stunning visual of an iPhone and it application on bus shelters) and its users (e.g. the silhouette of an iPod user enjoying music painted across an entire bus) in spectacular fashion.
The outdoor industry has also adapted quite effectively to digital technology, both with integrating digital displays into some out of home formats (e.g. in store street furniture, digital displays in transit locations and places of business) and by converting more traditional billboards to digital formats. The ability of digital billboards to carry multiple messages both opens up access to many locations for advertisers who had not previously been able to buy, as it allows for multiple messages to be rotated in the same location. This technology also addresses a traditional limitation of the medium in that real-time changes of copy can be made. Hence, television stations can promote different programmes at different times of the day, restaurants can offer specials at various times, and other appropriate time-based adjustments to the message can be made. Clearly, this innovation changes the way out of home is used and opens up new opportunities for advertisers who use digital billboards.
Another key innovation is the creation of the innovative ‘EYES ON’TM measurement system that was created by the Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB). Historically in the US, standard billboard rates had been set by TAB using traffic counts and factoring the size of the billboard. A significant issue with this method was that ‘viewership’ was being measured in terms of people passing a billboard as opposed to measuring people who actually noticed the ad. The new EYES ON system, which is now available in more than 200 markets for most billboard types, transit shelters, other street furniture and some wall murals, addresses this issue by developing a measure of ‘eyes on’ impr<;ssions that provides a sophisticated estimate of people who actually notice the ad.
TAB uses a very sophisticated technique to arrive at the EYES ON rating, adjusting traffic counts (or daily effective circulation) based on visibility research designed to convert people who have an opportunity to see the ad into audiences who actually notice an ad.on a unit (for additional information on the specifics of the approach, see www.eyesonratings.com). This research includes 15,000 high definition video simulations of vehicular and pedestrian exposure to out of home units, and factors in the size of the display, its format, the side of the road the dis play is on, the angle of the road, street type and distance from the road. Visibility research· is also supplemented with travel surveys that provide demographic pro files for people viewing units and record their driving patterns. As a final step in arriving at EYES ON ratings and developing the associated database, data from Peoplecount (traffic engineering and pedestrian modelling), Mediamark (MRI), Micromeasurement (video simulation), PRS (eye tracking), MAP, lnterpublics (visibility model development) and Telmar (database architecture and model ling) are integrated.
While I have actually been critical elsewhere of the wisdom or need to make visibility adjustments in rural areas, as the system has been implemented, the advantages in urban and suburban environments are very clear. Moreover, it strikes me as entirely possible that the visibility research can factor in the lack of other stimuli competing for attention in rural areas, and TAB may well do this as the system expands.
In any event, the advantages of the new system are readily apparent and open some new opportunities for the industry. First, having accurate pedestrian counts around structures such as kiosks and bus shelters in major metropolitan areas allows advertisers to get data on exposures (and its contribution reach, frequency and CPM) where data had simply not been available previously. Second, the ratings provided by EYES ON are simply more accurate and can be viewed as an accurate ratings measure that can be more readily compared to that of other media. Generally, rating points can be measured as the total number of ‘eyes on impressions’ (EOIs) delivered by an out of home display expressed as a percent age of that market’s poplllations (OAAA 2010). And, of course, as with other OOH formats, more accurate measures of reach, frequency and CPMs can be computed.
A final major advantage of EYES ON- and perhaps its most major innovation – is the ability to engage in selective demographic (rather than just geographic) targeting by OOH advertising. The EYES ON database contains information on the demographic viewership of each individual billboard site and provides a much better measure of actual exposure to a specific demographic group (e.g. consumers with incomes over US$100,000) than zip code-based data would. Moreover, maps of billboard locations are available that reveal optimal locations based on consumer driving patterns in a way that is sometimes counterintuitive.
While it is not my purpose here to review all the implications of the new measurement system for out of home media in the US, I do want to point out how much it, and other innovations, have been changing the outdoor advertising industry from what is was even ten years ago. Clearly, there are new opportunities for advertisers as a result of these changes. It is also clear that other ‘traditional’ media are changing. My goal here is to encourage more research on how advertisers can effectively respond to and take advantage of changes in traditional media and what changes are necessary to use these media effectively. Clearly, there may be cases where one or more of a medium’s traditional advantages have been compromised. Articles on such issues are also of interest.