Is simple and static better?

October 30, 2007 by Dave Haynes

The former chairman of ad giant Zenith Optimedia, Simon Marquis, wrote a piece Monday in the UK’s Guardian newspaper about the evolution of outdoor advertising.

He goes on about how the old notion of guys in overalls, clutching glue brushes and strips of poster paper, is somewhat antiquated given the ongoing switch to digital. He says all kinds of opportunities open up because these posters and billboards are now turned on, but he’s not convinced that makes for more effective advertising.

… outdoor is an all-comers’ medium – its two-dimensional nature is not a shortcoming but positively liberating: a good, simple brand message is all that’s required.

The digitisation of media means that outdoor is becoming capable of performing more and more extravagant tricks. Huge screens at railway stations are not really posters but out-of-home television or public-arena cinema.

I wonder whether this is necessarily a good thing. To my mind, the single most powerful reason for outdoor’s enduring power as an advertising vehicle is that it is one of the last bastions of the simple static image. Ironically, it is its very lack of sound and movement that draws the observer in, providing something for the brain to engage with actively.

Simple, I agree with entirely. Static, not so sure.

  1. aideycot says:

    Blimey, just shows you how short sighted the traditional outdoor media owners. Read any of the reports by me 😉 Citibank or Deutsche Bank to see that experts are saying that a digital billboard can gross 6x the revenue of a traditional billboard simply by day-parting. You don’t need Bluetooth, interactivity, scrollers or tickers to do that (I agree that many do and simply complicate the message) but digital ‘display faces’ rather than traditional are definitely teh way to go. Ifr the traditional outdoor media owners do not see that then there are a whole raft of digital outdoor startups who are quite happy to come and ‘eat their breakfast’

    Digital also brings with it the 21st century metric of measurement (whoa! steady there) – something many in the traditional advertising world are scared of.

  2. Rob Gorrie says:

    careful on the shotgun to his comments.

    1.) He’s not an “Outdoor media owner”, he’s the ex-head of one of Publicis’ largest media buying outfits which has worldwide revenues of 553 million in 2005.

    2.) He says he’s not convinced of the growth into digital, which doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, it means no one has given him either enough info or compelling enough info for him to accept the change in the marketplace. That means we haven’t done a good job as an industry on selling our space – just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t make them stupid.

    3.) If you read the article you will see a note on how well researched and consumeable the space is::

    “In spite of occasional (and rather half-hearted) questioning about financial transparency, the outdoor medium has become easy and clear-cut for advertisers to buy, and is well-researched and understood. Two major outdoor specialist agencies, Posterscope and Kinetic, dominate the packaging up of campaigns and by and large do a very good job.”

    All around, he’s just asking a question…not pointing a finger.

  3. Can you just hear the grinding of tectonic plates grinding together here?

    Yes, static content can be powerful in this newly digitized world of OOH, but leaving out tactical options like day-parting seem to confirm Rob’s notion that he might not be fully up to speed on all the logistical choices at hand.

    We are on the cusp of an entirely new universe of creative possibilities in this sphere; ambient branding, multi-screen synchronized, mobile interactive… and yes, the static glossy magazine ad format that Simon holds so dear will remain. But it will be reborn again, and not for just memories of times gone by…

  4. screenmedia says:

    Damn you Mr. Giggles, I just about lost a mouthful of Harp when I read your tectonic plates remark. Funny stuff.

Leave a comment