Despite the surge in online advertising, most consumers still do the vast majority of their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. According to PwC, nearly 40 percent of consumers make purchases inside a physical store every week, compared to 27 percent who do the same online. Unlike online audiences, that may or may not be shopping when they come across your ad, consumers who are in retail stores are primed for your ads. They’re in shopping mode.
Digital out-of-home advertising (OOH) encompasses a variety of platforms, including digital billboards, digital screens (that often double as building or shopping district directories) and mobile ads. These solutions can help retailers engage consumers while they’re out shopping, helping to build brand awareness and, depending on the location of the ad, pushing traffic to their websites or physical locations.
Overall, digital OOH is an efficient, fast and flexible method of launching a marketing campaign, even if you have a limited budget (and limited time). Unlike traditional outdoor advertising, creative content for digital ads can be uploaded quickly and modified frequently, enabling retailers to alter campaigns throughout a season according to changes in promotions and/or inventory levels.
However, like any form of advertising, digital OOH isn’t free, and it's not a silver bullet. To ensure you get a positive return on investment on your digital OOH spend, follow these best practices:
1. Choose the right mix of locations. If retailers choose the right mix of locations for their digital OOH ads, they’ll be able to reach a huge audience and target a specific segment of consumers who are most likely to buy. They key is running ads in high-reach, high-frequency locations and specialty locations. High-reach, high-frequency locations include transit centers, grocery stores, shopping centers with big-box stores — i.e., locations where consumers go often. Ads in these types of locations will be seen by thousands of consumers, increasing brand awareness with a large, diverse audience. Meanwhile, digital OOH near specialty locations can help retailers target consumers who are likely to be interested in their particular product.
To demonstrate how these two types of location choices can work together, let’s consider an athletic clothing retailer that wants to build awareness for its new women’s line. By placing ads on a digital display outside of Target or a major grocery store, the brand will reach thousands of women every day. By also placing ads on a digital display near a small organic grocer or a yoga studio, it will reach women who are likely to be interested in health and fitness, thus maximizing the effectiveness of its ads.
2. Use the right messaging. Retailers that have previously invested in traditional outdoor advertising (e.g., billboards, murals, column wraps) may assume that the content for digital OOH ads should follow the same guidelines: sparse copy, large font, bold colors. These rules do apply, but there are additional guidelines to keep in mind. Digital OOH ads need to attract consumers who may be walking quickly and, in many cases, are distracted by their mobile devices. Incorporating motion into the ad will catch consumers’ attention. Keep in mind that consumers are used to interacting with — not simply looking at — digital content. If possible, give consumers the opportunity to engage with the content. Include clear calls to action that tell consumers what to do next, such as go to a website, share on social media, etc.
3. Incorporate a follow-up mechanism. More consumers will see digital OOH ads during busy shopping seasons, but complementing ads with a follow-up mechanism can dramatically increase their impact. There are a number of ways to extend the conversation with consumers after they see a digital OOH ad, but an increasingly popular solution involves integrating digital OOH platforms (like a digital screen or digital billboard) with GPS. For example, when a consumer walks by a digital OOH ad, they will see subsequent ads for the same brand on their smartphone.
Retailers can also use ads to highlight their brand in a cluttered market space. For example, Jawbone might place an ad on a digital screen near a consumer technology store to catch the attention of consumers looking for a wearable fitness device. This type of ad can help sway the target audience, who are still choosing which brand to buy. These ads can also offer coupons to encourage trial usage or notify shoppers of a specific, time-relevant sale.
By choosing the right mix of locations, messaging and follow-up mechanism, retailers will be able to reach their target audience effectively and drive increased sales.
Missy Cassell is the head of sales and marketing of Corner Media, a digital out-of-home media company.