How can out-of-home advertisers utilize social media?

by Jo Stratmann

Out-of-home advertising (or outdoor advertising as it’s also known) is any type of advertising that reaches the consumer outside the home. It includes things like roadside billboards, or the posters you see on buses and tube escalators.

With the falling price and improving quality of digital displays, more and more out-of-home advertisers are moving away from traditional print and paper methods and are starting to use digital commercials with moving pictures, sounds and interactive features.

According to a recent article in The Economist, spending on digital billboards and posters is set to double over the next 5 years.  Given the rise of digital in out-of-home advertising, brands and businesses would do well to think about the opportunities for using social media as part of their out-of-home advertising digital strategy.

World leading outdoor advertising company JCDecaux is already taking advantage of new social media technologies to help brands engage their audience more effectively. They offer a free iPhone application called u snap – whenever a consumer sees a poster of something that‘s of interest, the consumer can take a photo of it on their iphone and the app recognises it, giving extra product information, discount vouchers and directions to the nearest retailer.

Digital out-of-home advertising could also be used to take advantage of what is known as “gladvertising” and “sadvertising” where face tracking software, embedded into the digital billboard or screen, is used to determine the mood of consumers as they pass by so that the products shown in the advert appeal to the consumer based on their mood.

There’s also the potential for real-time advertising – when Spain won the football World Cup last year digital billboards in Madrid showed the results within seconds.Out-of-home advertisers could also make use of location based marketing to roll out offers or discounts to people who check in near their digital billboard for example.

With Clear Channel’s  William Eccleshare claiming that 90% of its business will be digital by the end of the decade, brands who use out-of-home advertising would do well to think not only about their digital strategy, but also how social media can be used to further engage with the consumer.

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