Digital OOH: Right Context 30, 2010


Fabian Cowan is currently west head with OOH Media in Mumbai. He has been associated with media sales for the last 16 years, having worked with companies such as Midday Multimedia, Radio One, Emerging Media, and DSN. Cowan has also been passionately involved with sales training, writing and content development.

The Merriam Webster's collegiate dictionary defines the word communicate as "to transmit information, thought, or feeling so that it is satisfactorily received or understood". The existence of such a challenge has never ever been in doubt for a marketer but the difficulty quotient of this task has only gone up many notches in recent times.

The once seemingly easy to reach target audiences have now transformed themselves into moving targets that zip in and out of malls, multiplexes, restaurants, shopping arcades and commercial complexes spending more time out of their homes than inside. Brands have to follow this consumer wherever he goes in the hope of getting his attention; I say hope because there is already so much of a clutter that out-shouting other brands is an equally onerous task.

Imagine the target as a doe being followed by a dozen stags. The herd follows her mindlessly in all directions with the obvious on their minds, while the doe is hungry for food and is desperately in need of a bite; they stop when she stops, they turn left when she decides to do so, they turn right when she does, and they all stand tall flexing their muscles and waging their tails when she stops to look back. Who will she look out for when all seem to have just the one thing on their minds? Looking impressive and different is easy, being relevant to the TG; in this case the doe is difficult.

Digital OOH media allows advertisers and brands with such an opportunity. Transmitting information to audiences in a manner that is relevant, thereby titillating their minds in the frames that they are in is the core strength of this medium. Take for example, a DTH service provider whose contextual usage of the medium was a recent highlight on OOH Media's network of screens. Its feature of pause, record and play was contextually scripted to appeal to audiences in different locations. The script in a mall was different from the script in the multiplex, which in turn was different from the script in a restaurant. Thus allowing the target audience to feel the thought thereby making way for them to receive the message effectively, completing what one would call the cycle of communication.

Categories like auto have woken up to the contextual power of the medium. Auto companies with offerings at various segments can use the digital OOH networks at various locations to showcase relevant cars to the relevant prospect. Compact cars have been advertising on screens in malls and multiplexes, mid-sized sedans use the commercial and business clusters of some OOH networks, while premium cars and SUVs use the airport buses and high-end residential buildings to connect with their prospects.

With the increase in its spread across locations, and newer technological advances being made within the OOH digital network of screens, the medium is slowly but surely becoming an ideal platform for IPOs and NFOs as well, as the high frequencies at which the ads appear on these screens allow for immediate recall perpetuating possible action. The key then is to serve an advertising message in such a contextual and relevant manner that it moves the target to take action immediately without delay, and if a medium allows a marketer that platter of a privilege, it ought to be savoured. Until then…