Is it time for Irish marketers to broaden their advertising channels?

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising enjoys just a 6.5 per cent slice of the global ad pie, but is growing
Eileen Curry

NEW forecasts suggest the value of out-of-home advertising will surpass the value of newspaper advertising and many other channels for the first time this year. This doesn't mean the end for print advertising, but it does show that the out-of-home channel has adapted well to the new digital landscape.

The rise of outdoor advertising isn't something you can just put down to a ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' effect – it's a trend that started long before Frances McDormand deservedly picked up an Oscar for that acclaimed movie in 2018.

Twenty years ago, newspapers and magazines accounted for 40 per cent of worldwide marketing spend. Today, outdoor or out-of-home (OOH) advertising enjoys just a 6.5 per cent slice of the global ad pie, but it's expected that it should overtake newspapers by ad income this year.

Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that advertisers will spend $40.6bn (£31.16bn) on billboards and ‘street furniture' in 2020. By 2024, it is expected that outdoor advertising spend will exceed the combined total for newspapers and magazines as it grows at annual rates of between 2.5 per cent and 4 per cent.

In fact, outdoor advertising seems to be the only traditional ad channel that continues to grow in the face of a digital onslaught led by Google and Facebook. This is in part a reflection of the channel's readiness to embrace the digital revolution. Outdoor advertising also offers the potential for stop-you-in-your-tracks impact – yet it's not intrusive.

The BBC's in-house billboard ad for its new Dracula series is a fine example of this. Its impact rippled way beyond the billboards when fans around Ireland took to social media to praise the creative and share images.

So why should Irish marketers consider outdoor advertising as well as print for their 2020 marketing campaigns? There are many reasons: outdoor advertising has become a great platform for creativity and technical innovation, and now it's measurable.

5G will soon enable live content to be used. The next step for marketers is to work out how to use mobile channels to overcome the fact that phones are making us more insular: if we're looking at a screen, we're not looking at billboards or print advertising.

Both print and outside advertising are channels for marketers to keep a close eye on. While outdoors offers new tech and opportunities, it is key to get the balance right. Traditional print advertising certainly still has its place and shouldn't be ignored. A great advert in a newspaper can have the same effect as a great advert on a billboard.

To surprise and delight an audience tends to require powerful creativity these days to cut through the noise. My advice would be for marketers to embrace both media but be wary that there is such a thing as bad publicity – at least in the eyes of the Advertising Standards Authority, which recently pulled a People Per Hour billboard ad for reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Think through your ideas and then test them with different audiences – get the balance between creativity and audience demands right and you could see your campaign in lights this year.

:: Eileen Curry is chair of CIM Ireland

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