Mobile, social, and dynamic information platforms are saturating media spaces, including digital outdoor boards.

After a lull in growth during the recession, Out-of-Home (OOH) vendors nationwide are quickly converting static bulletins or building new structures to keep up with the pace of their competitors and client demand. Even states that have historically been against digital outdoor are passing legislation to allow for the format (Oregon) or are rejecting anti-digital legislation (New Mexico and South Dakota).

Digital Outdoor Growth Over the Years
The industry has seen digital locations grow to more than 2,400 in four short years.  Advertisers already see immense value in digital OOH’s  capabilities, including- but not limited to- innumerable creative change-outs, real-time updates, day-parting and even dynamic messaging.

Despite the many perks of advertising on digital boards, a multitude of advertisers have gone to great lengths to evolve the capabilities.  Brands are pushing for more consumer interaction through the incorporation of social media.  The widely publicized 2010 McDonald’s Angus Burger campaign rotated 2,000 consumer generated headlines on 13 Kansas City digitals over the course of 24 hours.  Jeweler Robbins Brothers rotated love notes on a Riverside, CA digital board that were written by fans on their Facebook page in November 2011.

What to Expect in 2012
2012 will continue to push the digital OOH evolution. Below are some examples.

Sponsored Network Content: In 2012 Adams Outdoor will sell sponsored content on slots within its digital loops in Norfolk, VA. It will include one of maybe eight slots that repeats every minute or so.  Operating much like place-based digital networks already do (think TVs in doctor’s offices and at the gym), Adams Norfolk will rotate partner-provided content on the chosen dedicated slot that is accompanied by a sponsor field, reminiscent of the adage, ‘This message brought to you by.” It will be interesting to see how this model is adopted.

Mobile Messaging Tie-In: Mobile has continued to be an opportunity for OOH platforms, but with Lamar Advertising’s new tool RoadNinja, a free location-based app powered by Foursquare, 2012 will perhaps be the year mobile can help OOH shorten the path to purchase.   While the app lets subscribers know what gas, food, entertainment and lodging choices are found at  upcoming exits, it also allows Lamar partners to push out sale and promotional messaging when a user is in close proximity to brand locations.  Empower has more background here.

Emergency Communication: Institutions like the FBI, FEMA and NCMEC already tap into digital outdoor’s ability to broadcast in real-time. The FBI posts ‘most wanted’ ads when warranted, FEMA pushes out emergency communication and the NCMEC displays AMBER alerts when children are reported missing.

All three groups can directly attribute positive results to communication on digital billboards. And it is expected the outdoor industry will maintain contracts in 2012 and beyond. Such partnerships help reinforce the benefit to brands using digital boards.

Get Local With Digital OOH
It’s easy to spot a theme in these examples: Localization.  Consumer expectations for relevant information everywhere in real-time extends to digital OOH.

And, as we’ve shown with the above examples, digital OOH messaging  can:

  • hone into board locations
  • provided locally-relevant sponsored content
  • ping consumers in the immediate vicinity of a brand
  • disseminate emergency information.

And as a result, digital OOH allows brands (regardless of whether they’re based globally or locally) can get hyper local and connect with consumers in local markets.

:: By Erin Crane, OOH Strategist

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