Now Playing on an Uber Near You: Digital Video

Consumers have some basic expectations for their advertising. They expect TV ads to run 30 seconds or so, print ads to feature provocative headlines and direct response ads to try to direct us to do something. We also expect outdoor ads not to move, but that’s changing.

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is expected to be a $4.5 billion market in the U.S. next year, up from $1.2 billion in 2016. Such ads — often featuring video or animation — are also showing up in new places. We now see video ads on Uber and Lyft vehicles, as well as bus stations, in-stores and on billboards.

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Here’s why we’ll be seeing more video in more new places in the next few years:

Video OOH ads work better. A study from Ocean found full-motion DOOH campaigns have an impact 2.5 times greater than static displays. According to the study such ads have an emotional experience comparable to TV advertising. Of course, it makes intuitive sense as well that any outdoor ad with motion is going to be more eye-catching than a static ad.

Great creative can make DOOH even more effective. While the data shows that merely replaying an existing video ad in an OOH format can be effective, consider how some advertisers have already experimented with this wide-open canvas. To cite one example, this bus station ad from Pepsi looked like a transparent window, but the advertiser added augmented reality overlays of flying saucers, a loose tiger and an attacking robot. Others have experimented with cinemagraphs, which look like standard static ads but employ subtle motion effects. This ad for Swedish haircare brand Apotek, for instance, featured a woman whose hair moved when the train pulled in.

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IoT will provide new placement opportunities. Outdoor advertising includes billboards, bus ads, bus shelter ads and rooftop displays on cars, among other opportunities. In the past year or so, many Uber and Lyft vehicles have begun sporting video rooftop displays, which provide another income stream for drivers. But thanks to IoT, new opportunities are popping up everywhere from in-store kiosks to interactive transit maps.

Location data makes DOOH trackable. The classic problem with outdoor ads was that there was no way to track them. You might know how many people walk down a given street on a given day, but efforts to estimate actual exposure were based on guesswork and extrapolation. But companies like Vistar can now connect out of home ad exposure to store visitation. A marketer can tell not only that a consumer saw an outdoor ad but that it prompted them to actually buy something.

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New technology will bring personalized DOOH ads. Like TV, outdoor is a one-to-many medium. In many cases, ads are targeted to a small segment of the population and the rest are false positives. But AI can identify different types of users and dynamically target ads to them. This is not some far-off technology; it is happening today. For instance, some McDonald’s windows show different ads depending upon whether a kid or adult walks by. Kids will see Kids’ Meals while adults will see a burger or salad and a coupon code for a free shake if they buy within the next 15 minutes.

Digital is overhauling outdoor advertising the same way it has reinvented every other type of advertising. New ads feature motion, are trackable and can be personalized. Unlike other digital ads, they’re also unblockable and guaranteed to appear in brand-safe contexts. That’s why marketers need to change their expectations about outdoor ads just like consumers do.

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