The power of intelligent out-of-home advertising

Many a piece has been written, and many a discussion facilitated, in this publication about what you can do to prepare for “digitalisation” and how to master online marketing. But a lot of these discussions focus purely on what’s happening in the online world through the screens on our desks and in our pockets. But other media channels haven’t exactly stood still over the years, and OOH in particular, has evolved tremendously. In the following paragraphs, we look at what’s possible in 2018.

When we talk about advertising these days, we tend to focus on the new and the shiny – online advertising. And when we talk about online advertising, we tend to focus on the increasing amount of time spent on screens by consumers, and the value of being present where consumers are. If you were to read that completely out of context, you may even assume people barely spend any time outside and marketing spend is almost exclusively going towards social and online media.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. While screen time has increased, streets are busier than ever. And while some are still engrossed on their phones on public transport, others are deliberately limiting themselves from being glued to a screen all the time. This is reflected in the world of marketing as well. According to admanGo’s Ad Spend Report 2018, Q2, OOH ads alone commanded some 10% of total ad spend in Hong Kong – more than social media, more than mobile advertising and more than desktop advertising. Moreover, TVCs and newspapers commanded more than half of total ad spend – all offline. A cursory glance around Hong Kong anecdotally confirms the above. Some of the city’s loudest, biggest and greatest ad campaigns are featured offline – think the cross-harbour tunnel billboards or the massive MTR and bus dominations. Even Hong Kong’s famous skyline is decorated by giant ads.

While a good case can be made that technological advances have positioned online advertising to overtake traditional in the very near future – PwC expects this to happen sometime in the 2020s – this doesn’t mean that offline advertising has to be analogue; it can go far beyond static imagery, while the dusty old print ads of yore are no more. This Master Report, in collaboration with JCDecaux Transport, investigates the state of OOH, and how new technology is pushing OOH forward into the future, utilising many of the same benefits that have made digital advertising so attractive in the first place.