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Brain Trust: how to approach the development of creative for digital outdoor


Brain Trust: how to approach the development of creative for digital outdoor


For The Digital Outdoor Issue, our Brain Trust was asked for their expert advice for developing digital outdoor creative. Here’s what they told us.


Joe Copley, managing director Posterscope Australia

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 10.22.48 AMFirst, take it seriously, or you will miss an opportunity to make your message 50% more memorable (OCS UK). This is achieved through relevance – digital outdoor can deliver messages in real time, at the right time, in the right place.

Once you’ve got your head around this real-time opportunity, you need some data to inform your creative brief. Who is the audience, how do they feel, why are they there, what is the dwell time, how can your brand be most relevant to them and how much does all that change by time of day, day of week, weather conditions and traffic?

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 10.28.36 AMIf you don’t have the data, try and get some, or make some assumptions to get the ideas flowing.

The advantage of digital outdoor is that the message can be changed at will, so that it can be more relevant to more people, more of the time. This is a huge and largely untapped opportunity for brands that can deliver well.

The technology for scaled, dynamic message management and delivery is available, but the creative ideas to make the most of digital outdoor are in relatively short supply. Yes, we need more data, but also, to quote a billion school reports, we ‘must try harder’.

When a brand gets it right, it’s among the purest of all advertising influence: it can’t be blocked, or skipped, it doesn’t interrupt or intrude. In fact, outdoor messages are often the best ‘content’ available. They are there for us to engage with if we want to, or they provide subliminal brand priming when we don’t. Either way, it can deliver valuable and timely influence in a way that few other paid media channels can. Make the most of it.


Phil Clemas, general manager, APN Outdoor New Zealand

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 10.23.09 AMWe think of outdoor advertising as the original broadcast medium and one of, if not the most, steadfast throughout time. The presence, magnitude and overall impact of outdoor has long meant it has been a staple in any campaign.

The printing and installation process has restricted the ability for advertisers to react quickly to changing circumstances, but digital has meant that this is no longer the case. The easy option is to view digital outdoor as nothing more than fast-rotating static billboards.

As innovators and leaders in this space we are pushing advertisers and their agents to look beyond this, to think of it as a separate medium that warrants the same considerations of any other, to embrace and employ the creative flexibility and immediacy presented by digital outdoor.

The New Zealand advertising market has long been regarded as a creative vanguard across all formats, in particular outdoor, and we have seen some great examples of advertisers embracing the capabilities.

With any new format or medium, education is paramount in the early stages and our commitment to this has been unwavering. Earlier this year we engaged creative thinkers from around the country to participate in a digital outdoor creative challenge, Pixel361°, that gave them the space and forum to demonstrate innovation.

The results were simply outstanding. We have seen the potential this market has in the digital space and we are very much looking forward to this becoming the new normal for creativity in the digital outdoor space.

As the industry grows and scale extends we look forward to pushing the envelope even further.


Charmaine Moldrich, CEO, Outdoor Media Association

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 10.25.03 AMRegardless of what delivery method you use in outdoor, static or digital, two things remain true: outdoor is the ultimate broadcast medium and it’s the ultimate creative stage.

It’s big, it’s bold and everyone will see it. And what’s more, you are now broadcasting to a larger audience.

As we know, today’s consumer is increasingly demanding to be connected with the world on their terms. In the past this may have been hard for outdoor to satisfy, as it was a long-lead channel, but digital has changed this and given two compelling new arrows to the outdoor bow: flexibility and immediacy.

This, however, doesn’t only translate to digital screens – the Internet of Things (IoT) is making all outdoor formats come alive. Wi-Fi, beacons, QR codes and NFC, as well as facial, motion and gesture recognition, have opened up a world of choices for advertisers.

By aligning with mobile and digital technologies, outdoor is now able to connect advertisers with their audience anywhere, anytime, changing the focus from the age-old formula of image, copy and logo to one that offers creatives a plethora of ways of immersing people in a product or service and connecting audiences to those experiences. As the creative process for developing outdoor takes on new dimensions, Digital outdoor becomes a companion screen to online, TV, mobile and video.

So, our best advice is: think of outdoor as a screen, outside the home, that can reach 12.2 million people each day. Outdoor is part of people’s everyday lives, it’s where they live, work and play.

Also understand that outdoor is in the public domain, and therefore has a social responsibility because it is ubiquitous and it broadcasts to a general mass audience. Don’t just repurpose your other content for outdoor, but build outdoor content to engage audiences while they are out and about. Consider what they are doing. Are they commuting, socialising or travelling? Contextual relevance is key.

Digital outdoor is now challenging creatives to think outside the box and [consider] that a ‘one size fits all’ outdoor campaign no longer exists.


Aaron Rigby, director of client service – advertising, Ebiquity

Screen shot 2016-02-26 at 10.25.19 AMOne key insight that comes out of the millions of ads we collect and categorise every year is that a good piece of creative – that captivates, entertains, delivers a clear and concise message, and cuts through the clutter – is going to be successful, whatever the medium.

I’m a firm believer in message over media, but digital outdoor certainly adds a new element to how you can both interact with a creative idea, and how that idea interacts with the environmental context of the ad.

Although it’s still a relatively new medium, there have been a few campaigns we have seen that have been tremendously successful in both delivering a key message creatively and extending its value through motivating consumers to share it virally.

The best international campaign we have seen to date would be British Airways’ award-winning ad, ‘Magic of Flying’, which featured in Piccadilly Circus, London.

The key learning from that campaign is how the ad delivered a clear and concise message while also leveraging significant contextual relevance to its surroundings – and that’s the true power of digital outdoor.

If done well, it can seamlessly integrate the message into its surroundings, providing a springboard for an idea to quite literally occupy the space outside of the physical constraints of the ad.

In British Airways’ case, the idea extended out to the constant stream of 747s flying 30,000 feet above – a significant canvas for an idea to come to life and engage with the consumer.

So when thinking about how to create a successful digital outdoor ad, the first question to ask is how can your idea, the location of the ad and the surroundings work together to create cut-through and tell an engaging story to the right audience at the right time.


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