World’s Oldest Advertising Medium Has Chance to Act Like Newest

June 24, 2014 by guest author, Irfan Khan

Guest Post: Steve Schildwachter, rVue 

This past year I moved from Ad Land to Digital Signage Land.  My first impression was that consumer engagement is the future of digital signage.

As the months went on, it became obvious that Digital Out of Home (or, if you will, Digital Place-based Media) isn’t just a fantastic way to reach on-the-go consumers, it’s an under-appreciated creative showcase for advertisers and their agencies.

Digital Signage is Ready for Its (3-D) Close-up

The advertising industry is starting to realize the same thing.  Digital signage scored a very important win Saturday night at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.  Russian advertiser MegaFon won the Grand Prix in the Innovation Lions category, with a giant interactive screen that replicated 3-D “selfies” taken with smartphones by passers-by at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

According to Adweek, it’s the first Grand Prix ever won by Russia.  And according to this Ad Man, it’s also a wide-open invitation to the digital signage industry.

3 Lessons for Digital Signage from Ad Land

To be sure, Out of Home advertising has won many well-deserved awards at Cannes and thousands of other competitions around the world.  In fact, Cannes has an entire category devoted to “Outdoor”.

But this one is different, because it was the Innovation Lion, coming at just the moment when the world’s oldest advertising medium has a chance to act like the newest.

Here are three lessons to that effect:

Message is just as important as medium.  The same as the real estate business, traditional out-of-home advertising has always been about location — where will my message drive the most awareness and results?  That will always be a key question.  We’re not using the medium to its full potential, however, if we think only in terms of audience numbers and geography.  Digital signage allows us to create messages unique to the venue, even if it’s simply producing an ad for gas stations vs. repurposing a TV commercial.  If you’re working directly with an advertiser or an agency, help them see the possibility of what your screens or your network can really do with an original creative execution.

Engagement isn’t the future, it’s already here.  This win at Cannes is proof, but there’s a larger dynamic at work.  Advertisers are under pressure to prove the effectiveness of their marketing programs.  We’re a long way from “I know I’m wasting half my advertising budget; I just don’t know which half.”  Audience measurement is improving, but we can also invite consumer engagement.  Perhaps you knew that 91% of smartphone users always have their device within arm’s reach.  That fact presents an opportunity to show advertisers and agencies just how digital signage can engage their consumers.

Marketing and Technology must be partners.  Ad Land is still learning this lesson, but that doesn’t mean Digital Signage Land can’t learn, too.  In my encounters with all the participants in our industry, I’m struck by how separate Marketing and Technology are from one another.  Probably my most valuable day-to-day working relationship is with the Chief Technology Officer at our company.  If we don’t understand each other, then engagement can’t happen and it’s difficult to innovate.

Stay tuned to what Ad Land is thinking about.  The tectonic plate shifts in advertising are on opportunity for digital out-of-home.

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