Phil Clemas talks us through his experience with the growing digital outdoor industry and inspiring great creative with the first annual digital outdoor creative challenge, Pixel361°.
The best ideas often come from times of pressure. 2012 was a challenging year for most in the New Zealand advertising industry, but this was the year in which we at APN Outdoor designed our digital development strategy.
The strategic organisational pillars were: be first to market; lead the way; and, invest in the most premium quality technology.
After robust negotiations with Auckland Council, we secured consent to build New Zealand’s first permanent digital billboard, which was launched by the Mayor of Auckland on 1 July 2013.
From here, a network of five screens was launched in July 2014 and this is where we truly hit our stride.
Next it was into the airport space with Apollo, our iconic curved Elite Screen, and our Portrait Tower Screen both going live on 1 November 2014 at Auckland Airport.
We also developed a further 60 screens inside both terminals at Auckland Airport, complementing the existing the 12 at Christchurch Airport. Our network was thriving and our leadership was irrefutable.
We had amazing inventory and exceptional technological capabilities, from there it was about inspiring clients to take risks, push the envelope and use our assets to their full potential. In September 2015 we introduced Pixel361°, an annual competition designed to inspire digital outdoor creativity. Developing the medium and garnering attention from the industry was important to us, but the greatest motivation was the opportunity to inspire innovative and creative use of the digital outdoor channel.
We felt this would require some education and what better way than a competition focused on the quality of creative to motivate creative thinkers?
To gain attention and interest we offered a great prize (the top entry won a trip for two to the 2016 SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas) and centred the brief for the campaign on Men’s Health (Trust NZ), making available a significant amount of digital inventory to bring the winning campaign to life.
The response from the market was amazing. You never know how these things are going to go but the initial registrations showed the industry was really keen to be involved in this exciting challenge and there was a thirst to explore the potential for digital outdoor.
We had high hopes for the competition but in the end were truly blown away with the entrants’ final artwork, which naturally meant that the process of judging was quite the task.
Even so, it was inspiring to see many campaigns demonstrating the vastly untapped potential of great creative executions in our digital environments. The entries we received each took a unique view on the brief. With the focus being on men’s health there was the obvious trend in the creative approach taken – with interesting takes on male anatomy. These all got a laugh, but we were more drawn to the entries that dug deep, pulling at the heart strings for this worthy cause.
Two of the standouts made effective use of the immediacy digital outdoor offers. The lung health test was powerful in rating your lung health against your age – an effective and simple way for people to interact with minimal effort required.
The winning entry stands out for its powerful message that a man dies every three hours in New Zealand from preventable causes. With the impact of using real victims, this entry was a clear standout and ultimately the winner.
The key outtake was the quality of the ideas across the board. We really do have a very creative bunch here in New Zealand and Pixel361° gave them the space and freedom to play with this.
Overall, the greatest satisfaction for me was witnessing the quality of the thinking and being challenged with the judging process. The overall result was outstanding and demonstrates the promising trajectory for digital outdoor in this country.
So what’s next? With three new sites due in March 2016 (in Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton) the network will soon encompass a total of eight sites and be the country’s first national network. It will collectively deliver more than 3.7 million visual impacts over a two-week period, creating a unique advertising opportunity for brands and further extending our reach and leadership in this space.
In addition, APN Outdoor will develop two standalone Elite Screens in Auckland’s CBD and we expect those screens to go live in February. These new Elite Screens will possess the hallmarks of APN Outdoor’s expertise in this space, integrating the very latest developments in energy efficiency, LED technology, and be of an absolute premium quality. These screens will utilise a six-millimetre pixel pitch to provide the highest resolution currently offered in New Zealand, and the viewing corridors are going to be significantly widened with pixel density increased by more than 150%.
In terms of quality, the real breakthrough is the reduction in the SMD diode size, which in layman’s terms means blacker blacks, brighter brights and superior performance in direct sunlight situations. This equates to greater contrasts and brighter, crisper, more vibrant images for advertisers.
From the inception of our digital strategy formed back in 2012, we have embraced the emerging opportunities digital technology afforded. We have and will continue to take a leadership stance in this field, consistently elevating the quality of sites and expanding the scale of our Elite Screen portfolio, and we are looking forward to seeing great creative come to life across our expanding networks.
Phil Clemas is general manager New Zealand, APN Outdoor.