Alternative OOH Advertising Grows When Data Proves Which Formats Deliver Results
Thanks to advances in grand-format printing, digital signage, geo-fencing, and other forms of digital marketing, out-of-home (OOH) advertising has grown well beyond billboards, bus wraps, and bus shelters. Alternative forms of OOH and digital OOH (DOOH) are appearing almost everywhere you travel, work, or relax. Print and DOOH ad messages appear along city streets and sidewalks, in building elevators, on taxi-tops, and throughout airports, subway stations, movie theaters, and sports venues.
According to recent figures from the Out-of-Home-Advertising Association of America (OAAA), overall OOH spending in 2019 is up about 7% from 2018. While a large percentage of that growth comes from new DOOH revenues, campaigns that combine printed OOH ad formats with digital marketing techniques are gaining favor too.
Entrepreneurial OOH media companies that develop innovative, measurable combinations of digital marketing and printed OOH graphics can create growth opportunities for their business partners. Two excellent examples are Wrapify and Do It Outdoors.
Founded in 2015, Wrapify is a fast-growing OOH media company that connects offline and online advertising channels to drive measurable results for Fortune 500 brands. The attribution technology platform Wrapify developed enables marketers to see how advertisement-wrapped vehicles within a geo-fenced location can boost online engagement with a brand’s app, or foot traffic to locations where the brand hosts events or sells its products.
More than 200,000 gig-economy workers nationwide have signed up to earn money driving Wrapify vehicles for specific campaigns in their cities and neighborhoods. Founder James Heller says Wrapify combines his passion for both B2B digital marketing and motor sports. While previously serving as digital marketing manager for Ingram Micro in Orange County, he was running two large technology events in the city and wondered if wrapped vehicles driving around the tech district could boost attendance.
Although he found a few firms selling wrapped vehicles on a small scale, he says, “no one had built a technology platform that enabled them to make wrapped vehicles a measurable ad medium. So that’s what I set out to do.”
“We’re not selling wraps,” Heller emphasizes. “Wrapping a vehicle is how we deliver the impression. When we meet with a brand, we sell them high-recall out-of-home advertising.”
With his expertise in digital marketing, Heller built a system that could marry a high-impact OOH impression with contextually relevant digital impressions, then track the results back to a media-specific retailer.
For instance, if you see multiple wrapped vehicles with graphics announcing a special Coca-Cola promotion only at local Safeway stores, you might receive similar promotional messages when watching YouTube videos or listening to Spotify.
“We then measure the increased footfall in Safeway stores in the area of the geo-fenced campaign,” explains Heller. Wrapify then reports back to the brand marketer that people who were exposed to the wrapped vehicles in the geo-fenced area were X times more likely to enter a Safeway store than those who didn’t see the wrapped vehicles.
Using wrapped vehicles enables advertisers to get very targeted with their OOH campaigns, and acquire ad space in cities where local billboards, street kiosks, and bus wraps might not be available.
Some campaigns may include a geo-fence around an entire city. Other brands may want to target specific neighborhoods in specific markets.
Wrapify vehicles cut through the noise, says Heller, because it’s not normal to see 20 vehicles wrapped with the same graphics traveling around your city throughout the day. Billboards have become easy to ignore.
To produce the graphics for the wraps, Wrapify partners with a few grand-format printing companies.
“Our platform connects to [the one] used by our printing companies,” says Heller. Wrapify can help manage the printing company’s inventory of graphic films for scheduled campaigns, and send press-ready files that can go directly into production.
The printers then ship the finished graphics directly to the installers; Wrapify has a network of installers nationwide. To qualify for Wrapify jobs, the installer’s proficiency must be certified by Wrapify, Avery, or 3M.
Shortly after the installer receives the graphics, each Wrapify driver scheduled for a campaign is notified to bring their vehicle into the certified shop for the wrap.
“The installers like this set-up because they don’t have to worry about designing, printing, or cutting the brand graphics,” says Heller. “We make it drop-dead simple.”
Professional graphics installer and instructor Justin Pate helped Wrapify devise designs that could help get campaigns rolling quickly. “He helped us develop a speed-wrapping technique that enables us to get a lot of vehicles out the door very quickly and have them look fantastic,” says Heller.
Drivers include gig-economy drivers and employees who work in high-traffic areas of a city. They enjoy earning passive income from commutes they make every day.
Wrapify introduced their attribution platform in 2018, and has been pleased with the results clients have achieved. One skeptical financial services company, for example, received a 500% lift in credit card sign-up from the areas in which audiences were exposed to the wrapped vehicles and associated retargeting ads.
After convincing marketing managers it’s possible to measure the effectiveness of offline OOH channels online, Wrapify is experiencing a growth spurt of its own. The company has conducted campaigns for Coca-Cola, Mars-Wrigley, Uber, Lyft, ABInBev, Cisco, Alaska Airlines, and other well-known brands.
As a result of their success, Wrapify ranked 309 on the 2019 Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies.
Do It Outdoors
Do It Outdoors, in York, Pa., is the largest mobile billboard and field-marketing company in the U.S. Founder Regis Maher started the mobile-billboard business with his partner, David Pridgin, in 1997 when grand-format inkjet printing was still new. Since then, the company has expanded its services to help brands use alternative OOH formats to boost their digital marketing results.
OAAA research has shown that OOH is a key driver for online engagement. “When a brand adds OOH to a digital campaign, their digital performance soars,” says Maher. “OOH has the unique ability to provide massive reach, while also homing in on specific segments of a market in an audience-first way.” Brands not only use OOH for brand awareness, but also to improve credibility, drive in-store traffic, or create last-touch marketing opportunities near the point of sale.
The staff at Do It Outdoors helps brands plan and execute campaigns that can involve up to 150 mobile billboards, and/or a mix of tethered hot-air balloons, ziplines, digital screens, double-decker buses, wall murals, airborne panels, in-store POP displays, interactive kiosks, projection media, road-show tour buses, and experiential activations.
“Alternative forms of OOH are becoming more popular because people are always looking for something different,” says Maher. “But the key isn’t just being different, it’s being more engaging.”
Guerilla marketing sampling campaigns are popular, says Maher, because, “Advertisers can leverage foot trucks, sampling vans, or sampling bikes with brand ambassador teams to intercept consumers near events or in high-traffic areas. Sampling allows for a product-trial opportunity that can raise awareness, increase purchase intent, and even provide shareable moments socially. It’s a human-to-human interaction that literally puts the brand in someone’s hand.”
Mobile billboards are an effective alternative to standard OOH placements because the mobility enables a message to be delivered to the precise audience an advertiser wants to engage. As the billboard moves along the route, Maher notes that, “It not only supports better targeting, but also grabs attention, and has a large creative impact at the street level.”
To help marketers tap the full potential of mobile billboards, Do It Outdoors developed proprietary routing software that campaign strategists use to help deliver their messages along the right path to reach the target audiences at the right time. If an advertiser wants to target males ages 18-34 who earn $50,000 or more, the software can find routes the billboard should travel.
New “shadow-fencing” technology enables advertisers to send marketing messages to the phones carried by people within 200 meters of the billboard as it travels along the route. Maher says, “We’re showing click-through rates from our shadow fencing that are 150% greater than digital advertising alone.”
To support its fleet of mobile billboards, Do It Outdoors partners with a few print service providers across the U.S.
“We have been in the business for over 22 years, so we have well-established relationships with our print-service providers,” says Maher. “We can maintain integrity in the quality of the vinyls, and provide customers with cost-effective rates due to the volume of business we do with each print service provider.”
Running an alternative OOH media company requires serious management skills, notes Maher. “Coordinating multiple media formats is different than putting up a billboard on I-95 and walking away for a month. We have a lot of people and logistics that static billboard companies don’t have.”
While DOOH screens are proliferating across the OOH landscape, Maher continues to use 10x22-ft. printed graphics for their mobile billboards.
“There are trade-offs to moving to a fully digital creative,” says Maher. “We see high value in being able to offer the creative impact of the printed medium.”
Breaking Into the Market
Creative entrepreneurs are continuing to find new ways to create measurable, engaging OOH ad campaigns. One way to break into the OOH graphics market is to show digital marketing agencies or start-up OOH companies how new types of printed OOH graphics can boost the success rate of digital marketing methods.
If an alternative ad concept grows quickly (like the Wrapify concept has), all phases of your ordering, production, and logistics should be automated so your shop can deliver graphics at the speed OOH advertisers expect.