In Clear Focus this week: out of home advertising. Industry experts Heather Osburn and Jarrod Glick from Outfront Media share their observations about the reasons why out of home continues to see market growth compared to other traditional channels. We learn how digital technology connects out of home boards with consumers’ smartphone screens, and hear how an art director’s experience with dating apps inspired a much-loved campaign for an Orlando animal shelter.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello. I’m your host Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye, an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. Bigeye is based in Orlando, Florida, but serves clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us today. In today’s show, we’re focused on out of home or OOH advertising. Out of home is also known as outdoor advertising, out of home media or simply outdoor media. So let’s start with a definition. Out of home advertising typically reaches consumers when they’re on the go, in public places, in transit, waiting, or in commercial locations such as shopping centers. There are various out of home advertising formats, but probably the best known are billboards. According to the Out of Home Advertising Association of America, the industry’s trade association, this type of advertising can trace its lineage right back to the earliest civilizations. Going back thousands of years, the Egyptians employed tall stone obelisks to publicize laws and treaties, definitely outdoor media! In 1450 Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type printing in Germany, which led to advertising in the form of the handbill. The lithographic process was perfected in 1796 also in Germany by Alois Senefelder, which in turn gave rise to the illustrated poster. In 1835 the first large format posters appeared in New York advertising circuses and the first billboard was leased in 1867. Advertising has certainly changed over the centuries, but out of home is still a very prominent format for commercial communications today. If you live in a major metro area, you can see that many billboards are now like massive TV screens displaying messages that change frequently. Digital technology has also had an impact on the ways that billboards and other out of home can interact with consumer smartphones and other smart devices via Wifi and Bluetooth. Today it’s my pleasure to welcome two guests that live and breathe this type of media. We’re joined in the studio today by Heather Osborn, marketing manager at Outfront Media based in Orlando and Jarrod Glick, art director also with Outfront Media. Welcome to you both. Glad to have you here.
Heather Osburn: Thank you so much.
Jarrod Glick: Thanks for having us.
Adrian Tennant: Could you tell us a little about your roles with Outfront Media? Let’s start with you, Heather.
Heather Osburn: Hi, I’m the local marketing manager here in the Orlando market. I market Outfront Media on a local and sometimes regional and national level promoting our larger than life canvases, promoting our technology, our location, ACE platform, and creativity.
Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Jarrod?
Jarrod Glick: I’m the Art Director for Outfront Studios in the Orlando market as well and my job is pretty much to work on campaigns from concept to completion.
Adrian Tennant: So I understand that locally, Outfront Media reaches 98% of the market every week. I guess that most people are probably very familiar with billboards, but what other formats does out of home cover?
Heather Osburn: out of home is any canvas that exists outside of your home. So correct, digital and static billboards, but out of home also includes advertising within transit, like subway, commuter rail, and buses, walls. We have some beautiful walls in the state of Florida down in Miami, over a hundred feet high, bus shelters, airports, lifestyle centers, bike share, iconic locations like Times square or Sunset Boulevard, and we also consider mobile to be out of home at this point. So 68% of mobile use is done on the go. There’s a confluence between out of home screens, these giant canvases you see when you’re out and about and the screen that you hold in your hand.
Adrian Tennant: Now, traditional channels such as broadcast TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines are either static or actually declining in terms of the revenues that they attract from advertisers, yet out of home continues to see market growth. Why do you think that is?
Heather Osburn: Well, to start, our audience is growing. People are spending more time than ever outside their home, migrating to cities. This increases opportunities to connect brands with audiences when and where it matters most. Outfront is investing in the future, which means investment in technology. We’re deploying dynamic digital at scale and providing new creative opportunities. And in a digitally saturated world, there is new value placed on these giant in real life canvases. They’re trustworthy, impactful, and brand building. And these ads aren’t skippable but they’re also not intrusive in a way some digital advertising can be.
Adrian Tennant: Are there rules or regulations specifically covering what can or can’t be advertised out of home?
Heather Osburn: Yes, there are restrictions on outdoor advertising of certain products, services, and content and they may be imposed at the federal, state and local level. Some regulations as well as contracts with landlords, municipalities, and transit franchise partners. I mean the company has an internal copy approval policy to where the company reserves the right to reject copy or remove copy in certain circumstances. And as far as those rules and restrictions I mentioned at first, a good example of that might be not allowing an alcohol advertiser within so many feet of a school, something like that.
Adrian Tennant: Okay. So who regulates the industry?
Heather Osburn: We have multiple industry organizations that set best practice regulations including the Out of Home Advertising Association of America, also known as OAAA and Geopath, who provides ratings for out of home advertising via audience location, measurement insights, and marketing research innovation.
Adrian Tennant: I’ve lived here a while. So Outfront Media was previously known as CBS outdoor. What prompted the change of name?
Heather Osburn: So, right. We were previously under the CBS umbrella and in late 2014 Outfront split from CBS and became its own standalone company. The company went public as a wholly independent company, traded under the stock symbol, OUT. The name change to Outfront captured our identity and focused on innovative technology and creativity for our clients to take business to the next level.
Adrian Tennant: Alright. I mentioned in the introduction that out of home has become more digital. What does the application of technology in outdoor media mean for advertisers?
Heather Osburn: These are great advancements that allow for more opportunity in regard to a digital bulletin this can be as simple as day-parting your campaign. For example, a restaurant would have the ability to tease a breakfast or a lunch special to commuters making their way into work in the morning and then dinner options as they head home in the evening. At this point, even a static canvas is digitally enabled due to mobile, out of home being the best primer for all things digital, including social, mobile and search. We have about one in four Americans posting and an out of home ad to Instagram and massive digital deployment, which means more screens, more creative capabilities for advertisers, including dynamic campaigns with new sets of data feeds. We have these wonderful things called live boards in some of our bigger cities in New York and Miami and they can be used independently or they can be used together. So this is wonderful technology from a digital perspective where some of them are set up like triptychs and you can have motion video working across all three together. They can run independently, they can switch back and forth from that. They’re targeting people in these transit locations where they’re a captive audience. These advertisers are making the right choice as to who they’re trying to target and when they’re trying to target them.
Adrian Tennant: I mean audiences are a very significant part of our focus here at Bigeye but creative is super important. So, Jarrod, you’re the art director, can you describe some of the most effective or impactful examples of work that you’ve created with Outfront Media? I spend a lot of time on I-4 traveling between Orlando and the attractions area. You better talk to me about those rockets that I see by ChampionGate every day.
Jarrod Glick: That’s one of my favorite jobs I’ve worked on since I started with the Outfront Studios. That was about five months from concept to execution. The AE and I met with Visit Space Coast and they had put out a survey that asks one really simple question and that was how did you hear about us? And when 34% of the people responded, “We saw your billboards,” they knew it was time to invest a little bit more in out of home, so we decided we didn’t want to just create a billboard for them. We wanted to create a landmark. So we have this… It’s almost hard to describe. It’s a 30-foot rocket, which is a styrofoam prop. It’s built out of foam and steel. It has actual LED lights in the bottom that light up at night for the boosters. And I guess our goal for this was to… We wanted people to not say, “Hey, take the exit at ChampionsGate.” We want them to now say, “Take the exit at that big rocket.”
Adrian Tennant: Jarrod, I understand the client for that project is The Space Coast Office of Tourism, but I’m kind of intrigued, how did you get that rocket in place?
Jarrod Glick: This was just an amazing collaboration between our creative team, our operations department, which were just incredible. They spent so much time measuring and measuring. We didn’t just measure twice. We measured a hundred times. They were in direct communications with this incredible prop manufacturer out of Canada and it just started with CAD drawings all the way… My sketch, which was horrible, I’m not going to lie, to some amazing card drawings to client approval and then literally down to the most micro portion of these billboards that you can imagine. They came to us one day and said, “We don’t think it’s going to work.” There was a 16th of an inch under one screw that they said would eventually start… The whole thing would start leaning forward. So we just kept adjusting and adjusting. And then otherwise… My favorite part of this was once it was done and it was approved and they had it on the truck and it was coming from Toronto and it got held up in customs. And I love this story because it literally looked like four missiles on the back of an 18-wheeler and they drove it in. It was in Toronto, I guess coming into the United States and they pulled it over. They held the driver for about 12 hours and we had to x-ray him. I love that that happened because I can tell that story.
Adrian Tennant: Super realistic looking and I can attest to that if you’re ever driving on I-4 from Tampa, so traveling eastbound and you are at Champion’s Gate, you will see this massive rocket and its boosters on a billboard, three dimensional, very arresting. The traffic’s usually pretty slow through there, so you get plenty of opportunities to look at it and enjoy it. So talking of which, since we are talking about spending a lot of time in static traffic on I-4, you’re currently running a campaign for Orange County Animal Services, I can only describe it as kind of like the concept of something like online dating for pets. What was the insight that sort of inspired that creative direction?
Jarrod Glick: This one has been… It’s a very personal one to me. We’ve been working on this for quite a few months now and when Orange County Animal Services came to us and asked for a billboard, just letting people know that they were out there, we did our research and when we learned that they have… That they rescue 51 animals a day every single day of the year on average. We knew we wanted to go a little bigger than just a static billboard. So they have these amazing… This great photographer on staff that takes these very personal, beautiful photos that really capture the attention, that really captures each one of these animals. And honestly, not that long ago I was online dating and I had all these photos of me and I’m picking the right photograph and I’m trying to write the right copy. So I thought these guys should have that… Sort of that same advantage to really speak to their audience.
Adrian Tennant: Right. I love it. I have to say as I’m often in static traffic. I appreciate the fact that those billboards are changing out and the messaging is different every day. That I really enjoy it.
Jarrod Glick: To that, I keep thinking we’re going to run out of ideas and we have written, I think 40 of them now, but we have this… It’s not just me doing this. I have a team of probably about eight to 10 designers. We brainstorm once a week. I keep thinking eventually we’ll just be able to go back and run some of the old ones, but we haven’t had to yet. Like they just they… We crack up we have a great time and it’s my favorite part of the job.
Adrian Tennant: Right. And of course, for the listeners, we’re going to provide links to some of these examples so you can see these for yourselves. So Heather, what excites you most about out of home advertising?
Heather Osburn: First of all, let me tell you, when you were saying static, you’re in a lot of static traffic, that’s actually what we call dwell time. So that’s allowing you to see those out of home messages while you’re in traffic, enjoying this out of home messages. What excites me most about out of home, 2019 has been a really amazing year for out of home. We are finally getting the respect the medium has deserved. There was a nice write-up on AdAge, we’re part of the 2019 predictions and what really excites me the most are the creative opportunities that come with out of home. Pretty much anything that you can think of we can make happen.
Adrian Tennant: So Jarrod, what excites you the most?
Jarrod Glick: You know, we have some really cool stuff going on right now. We have a bus shelter that has a breathing man for Netflix’s Altered Carbon. It’s a little bit creepy. It’s kind of looks like a guy is sort of in a bag and as you’re just standing there it starts to breathe really fast gives you a bit of a fright. And then we have built this seven-story Amazon Echo in Times Square, which is the largest prop ever built in Times Square. It’s so realistic all the way to the little blue lights that circle around the top. Amazon leaned on our communications director to handle the PR for this which secured about 600 million impressions.
Adrian Tennant: Wow. That’s a lot.
Heather Osburn: It’s very exciting for us and exciting time for brands.
Adrian Tennant: So what does the future of out of home look like? What innovations do you see coming?
Heather Osburn: Many of them are already here. We have integration with augmented reality and social influencer to more precise audience targeting and we expect those to grow. Jarrod, from a creative standpoint…
Jarrod Glick: I have seen some really cool stuff with the augmented reality. We have these giant canvases out of the world. We have these small screens in our pockets and it’s just such a fun way to put them together. We’ve done some really cool stuff with Dogology, with Hims, I believe was kind of a fun campaign that we did in Times Square. So I’m really excited about the AR stuff coming down.
Adrian Tennant: So for anyone listening that wants to learn more about the creative possibilities out of home advertising offers, what resources can you recommend?
Adrian Tennant: Perfect. Well, it’s been a real pleasure. Some of the things that stood out to me from our conversation. Today’s out of home advertising can be really creative in concept and execution. The digital boards offer the ability to day-part with dynamic creative and integrate external data sources such as local weather or traffic information. I loved the story about the physical three-dimensional rocket advertising the Space Coast because it illustrates how an advertisement can become something of an iconic landmark. And of course, since Bigeye is an audience-focused agency, it’s interesting to learn how insights can fuel the creative process for out of home and how consumer behaviors can be tapped to marry Outfront Media physical boards with a mobile experience. So thank you to our guests, Heather Osbourn, marketing manager and Jarrod Glick, art director both with Outfront Media here in Orlando. If you would like to learn more about the history of out of home advertising, you might want to check out a video available on YouTube called The Past is Prologue filmed at Duke University and featuring a lot of visual examples as well as new interactive applications. We’ll include a link in this episode’s transcript. You’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced by Bigeye. If you have questions or comments about the content of today’s show, please email us at email@example.com and if you have ideas for topics that you’d like us to cover, please let us know. To ensure you don’t miss an episode, subscribe to IN CLEAR FOCUS on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, or your favorite podcast player. And if you like what we’re doing, please rate the show and leave a review. It really helps. You’ll also find a transcript on today’s show on our website at bigeyeagency.com under insights. For IN CLEAR FOCUS, I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening and until next week, goodbye.
- Outfront Media Orlando
- Outfront Studios on Behance
- Outfront Studios on Instagram
- Out of Home Advertising Association of America
- OOH is Real Campaign
- YouTube video: The Past is Prologue