Growth of out of home ads reflects our fragmented media consumption

Physicists tell us the universe is ever-expanding, a concept that can make the mind reel. Advertisers trying to reach their target audience know this feeling well, as media alternatives continually fragment and multiply. One solution: Forget about media as we would ordinarily think about them and look to the places your market congregates as the medium itself.

I’m only a recent convert to the power of out of home advertising, but that only seems to make me more of a zealot. Here are three examples worth filing away in your new media mental database:

  • Billboards that greet you by name — Tested last year and rolled out in the April of 2007, the Mini Cooper Motorby program is ingenious. Have owners register online, and receive a free key fob. When that key fob gets within 500 feet of a billboard, it triggers a personalized message. The billboard is 5 feet tall and 33 feet wide. My only questions: What are the results? And how are they translated to a true ROI?
  • Virtual billboards, Second Life-style — If an ad is on the side of a building, but that building is on Second Life, is that an interactive ad or out of home? A little of both, because it is far more interactive (try clicking through the side of a real building without getting injured or arrested), but has the same ambient quality of the real world. The biggest down-side: Ads are everywhere in Second Life.
  • Literally touch your consumers as they drink their coffee — Coffee cup sleeves have come of age. According to BriteVision, an industry leader in their production and distribution (they have their own ad network of coffee shops), the average consumer spends 49 minutes with their “Ad-Sleeve,” what an average recall of the ad at two-thirds (65%). The biggest up-side: Since many cafes offer WiFi, providing a URL can help measure effectiveness and reach an upscale segment of consumers. You can also include a phone number or short code for a mobile marketing play.

The reach and creative potential with out of home are a couple of reasons it is growing when other media types are stagnant or shrinking. According to the OAAA, revenue for out-of-home advertising so far this year has increased by 7.9% (within a rounding error of the growth seen last year, and the year before). This projection for 2007 is based on spending in the first six months of the year. The graphic below shows prior growth.

Growth of out of home this year is projected again at roughly 8 percent

All of this is great news for brands that want to make a difference. There are many ways to truly involve consumers — some quite high tech, some that are extremely “out there,” and some that are frankly both. It all makes for an interesting ride with plenty to see and do.