Online offline integration

The next time you see an outdoor ad and care to follow it up online, you are oohgling that is according to Annie Rickard, president of outdoor advertising specialist company Posterscope Worldwide, part of Aegis Media group. The hybrid was created by Posterscope to promote a tool that analyses the relationship between offline media and search (online). The cryptic ads led to resounding chatter online.

Intrigue and talk of Oohgle spread across countries and also left several people very confused “Is it a new Google?”, they wondered. But the real lesson is that it created important marketing insights for the medium, and settled the debate of online-offline integration. In future, media professionals will have to learn a new language to create really successful outdoor campaigns.

So how exactly does it work? At last year’s London marathon, runners were in for a pleasant surprise at practically every spot along the route. Screens set up along the city’s marathon trail displayed live feeds and messages sent on mobiles from well wishers, family, friends and fans flashed every time a runner passed by one of the giant screens.

This campaign for Adidas by TBWA linked superior technology (like the RFID tags in runner’s shoes to track their progress) and a simple idea that resulted in a topnotch outdoor campaign. It’s a campaign that’s on top of Rickard’s list of the best OOH media innovations in recent times.

Rickard believes that the future of OOH is very bright. At a time when other media are in trouble and panicking, outdoor, she says, will bring a spot of cheer for the advertising industry. According to her if outdoor offerings act as catalyst for people to connect outside their homes, especially relevant in these times as more people spend more time outdoors and stay connected on their smart phones, then the ad business could cash in.

Be it purchasing or lifestyle decisions, outdoor media can truly transform a campaign and be a compelling proposition with the right mix of investments, technical innovation, interactivity, flexibility and creativity. An example of what is happening in Japan and Korea is given below.

In these countries bar-coded bus shelters are commonplace and if you walk past a poster, and you photograph the barcode on it you could be sent a brochure, price information or be connected to the product’s website. Perhaps it might be a while before these Star Trek-ish tools hit Indian shores but Rickard is rather clear about the future and sees it as a perfect union between the big Os — outdoor and online.

Speaking passionately about the mobile-Internet revolution, there is an interesting Cadbury billboard that caught consumers’ fancy. Cadbury’s Goo the Egg game display on bus shelters in the UK got people smashing chocolate Easter eggs on a touch screen interactive display and competing for a higher smash score. But it didn’t stop there. The display sparked off lively discussions online too. In India Posterscope is less than a year old but for Rickard it is already the most important market along with China.

To put things in perspective, Rickard cites an interesting example, the UK, which is the most advanced OOH market in the world, took 25 years to get from the traditional poster to the beautiful digital screens and sophisticated interactive displays that are propped up in every nook and corner.

India, on the other hand she points out, has leapfrogged directly in to the latter phase, and what took decades in the West has taken just five years here. However, the use of digital screens for instance to merely display TV ads is the wrong way of doing things. The country is the classic emerging market and is much more advanced than it needs to be at this stage.

Most crucial at this juncture is accountability and professionalism. But, the picture is anything but glum here, and impressive numbers and high speed development make the market enormously challenging and exciting at the same time.