The public stuff sells itself
I was lucky enough to visit the Olympic Park a couple of weeks ago during the Olympics. My tickets weren’t for the Olympic stadium, the Velodrome or the Aquatics Centre. No, I was there to watch Handball! Ok, so Handball may not be top of everyone’s list but it gave me a chance to take in the amazing spectacle that is the Olympic games; to walk around the park and to soak up the atmosphere of this once in a lifetime event.
For most of us who work in media, a sad reality is that you also notice ads wherever you go. And this was particularly true of my visit to the Olympic Park. So, what brands had the best poster sites, the best digital billboards or the biggest building wraps? The ones that stick in the memory are:
- Gillette – building wraps, particularly visible from the train as you approach the site.
- Acer – huge landscape digital screen visible throughout the park.
- Visa – a selection of stunning digital billboards positioned in the retail area on the walk back to Stratford station.
- McDonald’s – the wrap of the footbridge to Stratford station.
- BMW – an awesome, ‘unmissable’ banner visible for miles, but especially from the footbridge heading towards the station.
Seeing these awesome sites, it struck me that the best sites really do sell themselves. They are in great locations with huge footfall and have the added benefit of being part of the experience and actually adding to the excitement of the Olympics.
Out Of Home Media (OOH) is at its strongest when the sites are big, bold and most importantly of all…public. But, is it true that across all different media types that the most public formats are really the best, or is it that they are the most familiar? What about those media formats that might be a little bit more hidden from your own daily experience, but are equally powerful in their own right?
In the OOH arena, there are plenty of location-based (often referred to as ‘place-based’ media formats) that aren’t on the side of the road, in a train station or on the side of a bus…you can find them in such places as Student Unions, Gyms, Petrol Stations, Sports Stadia, Hair Salons and Hotels. They all deliver a very specific audience, in a very specific mindset, but might fall off media plans (if they make it on at all) due to a lack of familiarity amongst the media planning and buying community. On the whole, these formats are not encountered on a regular basis by most of us working in media land. This can breed doubt and uncertainty about the formats, even if they deliver perfectly against their target audience.
This problem means that, for media owners operating in location-based environments, they have to work much harder producing marketing collateral that makes their media format more familiar. When launching Amscreen’s Petrol Station Digital Network, we went to great lengths to produce an interactive photographic ‘walkthrough’ of the petrol station. It was a sophisticated tool that meant you could navigate around the petrol station from the comfort of a central London agency. It was made from hundreds of meticulously taken photographs and took a vast amount of time to produce. We would use this in presentations to illustrate the typical customer journey and to show the positioning of the screen. This ‘walkthrough’ was produced in response to numerous agency folk admitting that they had never seen the screens (despite over 500 being in the ground at that point). A fair comment – how many of us that work and live near central London actually drive on a regular basis? For most, it’s a tube or rail trip to work and exposure to all the media formats they offer…
More recently, Acentic Media (providers of the recently launched ‘Hotel TV’ format) have produced a video that showcases the Hotel TV offering (click here to view – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Rj3Ir0rMP8 ). Working with Acentic, I was encountering the same issue that faced Amscreen; lack of daily experience in the environment. How many of us in media regularly stay in hotels, and of those that do, how many will have interacted with the new Hotel TV system that is now in place? The answer is very few, and not because there isn’t scale – there are over 39,000 hotel rooms in the UK now using the Acentic system. Just because we don’t personally encounter this format on a regular basis, it doesn’t make it any less relevant for the right brand looking to target the 4 and 5 star hotel audience. It just takes a bit more courage to book than it does to book an Airport poster campaign, for example.
So, this week we may not all visit a Student Union, a Gym, a Petrol Station or a 5 star hotel, but plenty will, and we can be pretty sure of who will be there. And we may not all ‘hit the red button’ and watch Handball, especially when there is magic going on at the Olympic stadium, but there will be plenty that do…