I have recently been pondering a simple-to-define but difficult-to solve issue that has arisen in my day-to-day existence as a Digital Out-of-Home specialist: How do we bring DOOH alive?
Let me explain.
I was recently assembling a DOOH media plan. The plan included typical information such as dwell time, spot length, spot frequency, number of locations, etc. What all these numbers and spreadsheets did not take into account, though, was all of Digital OOH’s capabilities.
What do I mean by that?
Digital Out-of-Home is so much more than straight media. Sure, its effectiveness is based upon media buys, showing spots at certain intervals in certain locations to impart a brand message, but DOOH can add layers to these foundations of communication. What are some of the major additions to a media buy that one can include in DOOH?
· Touch screen Interactivity
· Mobile Proximity Marketing
· Social Media programs
· Text Message executions
· Content Sponsorship
· Content Integration
The above is by no means an exhaustive list.
Does that mean we should abandon media buys from DOOH in favor of the other options? No, I am saying quite the opposite. Each of the above can complement a DOOH media buy in its own unique way; however, it is this very uniqueness that is difficult to explain when forwarding a media plan to a client.
The purpose of this post, then, is to tackle one major question: How do we as media agencies explain each individual network’s capabilities on each individual media plan? It seems unfair to reduce DOOH’s potential to spreadsheets with numbers; hence the question; “How do we bring it alive?”
In my interactions with planning teams, I have found that, for the most part, by the time they ask you for a Digital OOH media plan for such-and-such client, it is too late to begin educating them on DOOH’s capabilities. By that point, we need to provide options and costs--quickly.
Therefore, the time to educate clients about all of DOOH’s opportunities is far in advance of the inception of any plan. (Notice I am using the word “educate” in this post, similar to my previous post). Such a process would entail an entirely proactive approach to agency partners and clients. Only here could we lay the groundwork for future plans that could “scratch the surface” of DOOH’s added capabilities. By planting the seeds in the clients’ minds about the medium and its capabilities, we could hopefully have more flexibility to create unique plans when it comes time to build campaigns.
Easier said than done, right? It can take weeks or months to get quality time in front of a planning or buying group in an agency. How much will the audience retain? How can we make DOOH more than a small “blip” on their radar, much less teach them about all of the medium’s possibilities?
I propose a multi-tiered approach to Digital Out-of-Home evangelism. First, there must be the initial education about the medium. This session should include the basic facts about networks and also the networks’ capabilities. It should be led by an objective party, to provide unbiased options about the medium. Whether provided by the DPAA, industry committee or media agencies, this will be the first point of contact between the DOOH industry and agency/client partners, and it should take place long before the planning process of a particular campaign begins.
Secondly, the education needs to be ongoing. We must constantly push forward Case Studies, POV’s, new opportunities and presentations to keep the medium front of mind, deepening our partners’ and clients’ understanding of DOOH. There should be plenty of communication during this phase, ensuring that all agencies and partners are informed about such presentations and that “harmony” is a key ingredient. The industry needs to present a united front to the agency and client community to prove its professionalism, effectiveness and seriousness.
Finally, even after all of the aforementioned proactive work, we can’t simply react to program requests. We must continue our work by providing programs that also include DOOH’s added capabilities. Each network has its own opportunities to share for maximum campaign effectiveness. These capabilities will depend on each individual program being discussed. Some programs will not warrant anything other than media, while others will. We must be intelligent and strategic in our selections of such opportunities.
The bottom line is we must continue to convey the message of customization and optimization through the entire media planning and buying process in order to make greater headway toward realizing DOOH’s potential. This effort cannot be contained to one single media agency and its partners and clients; rather, it must engage the industry as a whole for a common voice (yes, again referring to my previous post and the theme of harmony). Additionally, this endeavor is based upon the foundation of education. It requires taking a long view of the industry and much patience, but will benefit the entire DOOH space in the long run.