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OOH Advertising: Innovation along the path to purchase


Photos courtesy OMAC

By Rosanne Caron
Recent studies show out-of-home (OOH) advertising outperforms other paid media in reaching Canadian consumers along their ‘path to purchase.’ And as the public becomes increasingly connected to their smartphones and related technologies, there is a growing opportunity for synergy between OOH and mobile media.

Reaching the hard-to-reach
By way of example, a new study conducted by BrandSpark International, involving more than 40,000 Canadian shoppers aged 18 and up, shows how fragmentation and clutter have had a significant effect on the reach and impact of various media.

The study found nearly four in 10 shoppers (39 per cent) are using ad-blocking software to avoid being exposed to online ads on 
their desktop personal computer (PC) or mobile device. The highest rate of use, at 
48 per cent, is among so-called millennials, aged 18 to 34.

Meanwhile, eight in 10 millennials said they pay attention to OOH advertising 
and 75 per cent of them recall the ads on 
a weekly basis. In other words, as new consumers are actively disengaging from other paid media, their attention and recall levels with regard to OOH advertising remain high. This is good news for the sign and graphics industry.

Today’s consumers are also seeing fewer TV ads. The BrandSpark study found 40 per cent of participants reported watching less than five hours of cable or broadcast TV each week. And among millennials, this category of respondents jumped to 61 per cent. As people shift their attention to online and streaming video services like Netflix, TV viewership is in decline. In fact, the average amount of time spent watching broadcast TV has dropped by 23 per cent since 2014.

As for ads in newspapers and other print publications, which have been declining for some time now, BrandSpark found 55 per cent 
of shoppers and 65 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds reported spending less than one hour a week reading print. Digital versions of the same publications have not been wholly successful 
in attracting a younger audience, either, with 
50 per cent of millennials saying they spend 
less than one hour a week reading them, too.

Among these shoppers who are spending less time with TV and print, more than seven out of 10 say they pay attention to OOH ads and nearly half (48 per cent) report taking action after seeing them. This is why OOH continues to deliver a high level of impact, even among ‘hard-to-reach’ demographics.


A single cryptic Toronto billboard earned millions of social media impressions for Drake.

The correlation between exposure and purchase
A 2016 Canadian TouchPoints study provided further valuable insights about consumer behaviour with relation to media exposure. 
One of its key findings was how OOH outperforms other types of ads in reaching consumers along their path to purchase.

In this context, OOH has the highest weekly reach at 88 per cent, followed by mobile at 55 per cent. And when comparing the performance of various media in reaching consumers within half an hour 
of when they make a purchase, OOH again achieves the highest reach at 72 per cent, with mobile reaching 38 per cent.

An analysis of media reach across 21 mainstream product categories—ranging from fast food to apparel—revealed consumers experience the highest level of exposure to OOH in 16 of these categories in comparison to TV, radio, newspaper, magazine and online ads.

These findings clearly demonstrate the power of OOH to reach and influence consumers on their path to purchase.

Alertness leads to action
Biometric studies have provided a new approach to better understanding how people feel about and respond to OOH advertising. This approach involves using galvanic skin response (GSR) devices, which are attached 
to the hands of participants to measure alertness, and eye-tracking glasses, which monitor what they are looking at in their everyday environments.

Overall, the findings of these studies 
reveal that when consumers are outside of their homes, they are 2.5 times more alert 
than when they are watching TV and other screens in their homes. This is an important distinction, as people are more likely to act on messages they see when they are already 
in an alert state of mind.

“The research shows we are more aroused when we’re out of home,” says Phil Harris, a neuroscientist who recently headed one of these biometric studies in Australia, commissioned by the Outdoor Media Association (OMA). 
“Our antennae are up. We’re wired to scan the environment for events that can have an impact on us and for things that are linked to our goals. There’s more to react to outdoors and therefore we’re more likely to act. It’s a primal thing. Survive and thrive.”

This is important news for marketers, as such a state of arousal drives attention and memory encoding, both of which are key factors that underpin the impact of advertising.

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