OOH Solved the Privacy Problem Before the Internet
In order to paint an accurate picture of consumers’ likes, dislikes and shopping history (sometimes even shopping future!), personal data is gold to advertisers. However, every day we hear about social media networks violating individual privacy. Social tracking. Data collection. Breaches. Phishing. Malware. Bot attacks. In 2020, more than 155.8 million individuals were affected by data exposures, accidental leaks of sensitive information due to less-than-adequate security.
As such, consumers want control over their personal data — how it’s collected, used, shared and stored. The government is stepping up with more data privacy regulations being passed in various states, California being the first in 2018. Now Utah, Colorado and Virginia have laws protecting consumers against the misuse of their personal information, with others soon to follow.
However, personal data theft and privacy regulations aside, most would agree that one-to-one online targeting is just plain creepy. Years ago, I hosted an AM/FM talk radio show about cigars, and I love them. More than once, I've casually perused cigars online only to be bombarded by a legion of cigar ads in my social media feeds for days on end.
With internet optimization and social media personalization raising red flags, marketers are giving out-of-home (OOH) advertising a fresh look. Technological advances are giving way to countless options in OOH — e.g., mobile billboards on LED trucks, wall murals, digital street signs, wrapped ice cream trucks, branded boats on the water, and more. Designed to target audiences and not individuals, OOH offers a less-intrusive approach for today’s privacy-minded communities.
How Does it Work?
Tech advances are allowing marketers to hypertarget audiences in the real world. Reach music-loving Gen Zers at a Billie Eilish concert; on-the-go tech executives at an industry trade show; health-conscious shoppers at an organic supermarket; travelers in airports across the country. Wherever your audience is, mobile devices pinged at various locations in the real world are like inbound links, as if coming from your website, and they are the gold.
Great for advertisers, OOH is able to sidestep major consumer data privacy and security fears. In the Kickstand Communications report, The Post-Pandemic Marketing Renaissance, data privacy was cited as top-of-mind with consumers, especially younger generations. The survey found that 23 percent are uncomfortable with individual targeting and 15 percent are wary of aggregate targeting, while 92 percent say personal targeting is creepy.
OOH is just as impactful — if not more so — than online advertising using contextual metadata, even if it has zero data on an individual consumer. In fact, OneScreen.ai doesn't need data on 100 percent of a population to learn that it shouldn't show advertisements for a local liquor shop to people on their way to work.
What’s better, there's no ad blocker for the real world. OOH ads can’t be blocked or skipped, as they non-invasively target individuals as they simply go about living, working and playing. And we’re only just beginning to see real-time data shaping the future of OOH. There’s lots more to come.
OOH has had the answer to the data privacy dilemma in plain sight. We just never considered it.
In 2021, outdoor advertising spending in North America amounted to nearly $8.7 billion, with OOH media spending expected to reach $10.5 billion in 2024. As brands big and small ramp up with OOH, consumers will benefit from the fact that there's an alternative to creepy one-to-one online targeting. And as more brands move into OOH, there will be less resistance to enabling consumer control over their data, which is ultimately what consumers want.
We could all use a break from the privacy invasions of internet advertising channels. The OOH industry still has a way to go to have simple parity using the tech available to internet advertisers, but once we do — even if that's lower than what's available to internet advertisers today — it will favor the reach and immersion of OOH.
Sam Mallikarjunan is CEO and co-founder of OneScreen.ai, the marketplace provider for buying and selling out-of-home (OOH) advertising.
Sam Mallikarjunan is CEO and co-founder of OneScreen.ai, the marketplace provider for buying and selling out-of-home (OOH) advertising. He was Chief Revenue Officer at Flock.com, Head of Growth at HubSpot Labs, and taught Advanced Digital Marketing, SaaS Economics, and Innovation Management at the Harvard Division of Continuing Education. He is co-author of the bestselling book, "Inbound Commerce - How to Sell Better than Amazon,” and is an avid podcast guest and industry speaker. Join his 40,000+ @Mallikarjunan followers on Twitter and 12,000+ on LinkedIn.