Outdoors aggressive play MMHK March
Out-of-Home media has been branded with the unfortunate title of "supporting media" to its TV, print and increasingly digital counterparts. With the economic crisis forcing marketers to review and increasingly revise their budgets down, outdoor media finds itself in precarious position.
The result: out -of-home operators are now offering marketers a string of additional platforms to get their messages to market.
Local outdoor giant JCDecaux Transport recently launched three additional platforms targeting top-tier luxury brands to advertise at strategic locations in the Hong Kong International Airport.
The sites include giant size column mounted light boxes located at the arrival hall, enlarged wall mounted light boxes at the arrival greeting hall and digital panels at the departure of the duty free area. Luxury fashion brands Prada and Ports have taken the lead in using these platforms.
Christina Cheng, assistant general manager, marketing & business development for Airport Authority Hong Kong says, "We provide advertisers a platform to reach their target international audience with affluent profile, offering them a rare opportunity to catch the attention of high-end consumers that may be harder to reach through other media."
In the MTR, JCDecaux Transport introduced a series of 32 inches high-definition LCD panels alongside escalators at Causeway Bay station in August last year. Sony VAIO was the first advertiser to use the new platform that runs on the wall above the handrail of the escalator to broadcast its message through visuals on rotating loops that appear as a movie on the move.
The new digital ad platform allows advertisers to use high-quality audio effects and poster extensions to highlight the panels for better visual and audio impact and is expected to spread to 10 more locations early this year.
Last Christmas, Swarovski braved the downturn and created noise to host the world's longest indoor crystal tunnel in Central MTR. Spanning 70 metres long, the tunnel was decorated with over 100,000 pieces of sparkling Swarovski crystal Christmas ornaments.
Lucia Chan, communication manager, consumer goods business for Swarovski Hong Kong & Macau says the response for the campaign was good and has generated a lot of coverage in different media.
During 2008, JCDecaux Cityscape replaced all of the 12-sheet and mega panels on Hong Kong Island with new, backlit premiere panels. Cathay Pacific leveraged on the enhanced platform to raise awareness of its first, business and economy classes that dominated the network with almost 100 panels.
Recall studies conducted by TNS showed the campaign reached a minimum of 1.7 million people with an average exposure of 15.2 times within a period of four weeks and a high brand recall rate at 86%.
Ashley Stewart, CEO for JCDecaux Cityscape says they are now embarking on the same objective to replace the panels at bus shelters in Kowloon.
Fast food giant McDonalds did a creative bus shelter execution last year to induce trial for its own blend of coffee. Numerous coffee cups were placed inside the panel showcase to stimulate coffee tasting and a jumbo coffee cup replica was built to enhance the image.
A sampling mechanism was built in the panel showcase to engage consumers and when the button was pressed at a designated time, passer-bys could obtain a coffee cup to redeem coffee at McCafe.
"To push bus shelters as the driving force in creative out of home," Stewart reveals they are re-introducing rooftop 3D advertising at more accessible rates.
Last November, bus body vendor Bus Pak partnered with Sony Ericsson to launch "Digit Bus", which comprised of exterior bus body advertising, interior compartment decoration and free internet access service to bus passengers through their wifi-enabled devices such as mobile phones and notebooks.
Tony Fung, group sales director for Buspak Advertising Hong Kong says Digit Bus provides a "push and pull" media function to the advertiser while the bus body ad generates impact and coverage and the free internet access on bus induces customers' engagement toward the ad campaign.
He says usage report of Digit Bus revealed more than 500 passengers per week used the free internet access service since its launch, proving that people do interact with outdoor media.
Although the local OOH sector is dominated by a few key players, Ada Tong, deputy leader for Mindshare observes there are a few emerging vendors specialized in outdoor TV such as JM Network, Lightscape and Asian Trends that bring in the technology and innovation to make the outdoor formats more diversified.
She points out Easy Group's moving truck is another emerging outdoor medium that is now becoming "the mobile road show in Hong Kong". The five-metre long truck features an LED banner at the top and allows consumers to go inside the truck to trial new products.
Outdoor companies are increasingly going niche with Media Savvy positioning itself as the outdoor leader in the healthcare sector. The new hospital media platform, a joint venture with Easy Group, provides a channel for marketers to advertise on panels across most of the major hospitals in Hong Kong.
Derek Or, chief marketing officer for Media Savvy says the hospital media platform complements with its minibus media as they now cross sell to clients by hosting campaigns on exclusive routes that runs through hospitals around town enabling advertisers to capture more impression starting from outside to inside of a healthcare institution.
Another upcoming trend for outdoor is that digital and interactive formats are increasingly becoming part of the OOH media landscape.
Amy Chan, managing director for JCDecaux Transport, MTR Advertising says the digital ad platform offers creative possibilities, allowing advertisers to present a modern and prestigious brand image and also allows the flexibility to update ads any time of the day to ensure a timely delivery to tackle the fast-to-action market nowadays.
Chan says passengers are certainly interacting with OOH formats with many special built formats encouraging interaction such as navigation maps, audio, information download, touch panel, Bluetooth and even scent.
"With digital as a key part of the OOH strategy, brands can now have a more personal two-way interactive relationship with consumers," she adds.
However, Ivan Lam, marketing director for Asiaray believes traditional OOH format "still have its media value in the market and won't be replaced". He stands firm that "size does matter" as they somehow represent the brand status of the advertisers and "project a premium and upscale image to audience".
PJ Wong, co-founder, chairman & CEO for Focus Media cites a PricewaterhouseCoopers report that OOH is the second fastest-growing advertising sector after the internet, with digital billboards the principal driver of the growth.
Wong says traditional OOH was mainly used to build brand awareness, so it was said that big is good, the bigger the more effective.
"That was OOH 1.0. The next-generation OOH is not about size anymore, it's about being captive," he said.
Focus Media reaches over 60% of all business professionals in Hong Kong via digital screens at elevator lobbies of premium office buildings and shopping malls in the prime business districts.
Wong explains when someone is walking on the streets with lots of distractions, then size does matters. However, when a person is staring at a small screen while waiting for the elevator, then being captive is everything.
Joe Rossi, Asia Pacific president for Enqii agrees that the digital outdoor industry is "moving forward exponentially". He says consumers are getting more and more used to seeing digital OOH in their everyday lives and as a result, the impact on consumer behavior is increasing all the time.
"People are indeed interacting, interfacing and being influenced by digital OOH from the shopping mall to the gas station, and from the high street to public transportation," Rossi says.
However, others stress OOH was never about interactivity.
Wong argues the platform is about one-to-many and if it becomes interactive, OOH will lose its cost effectiveness. He explains when someone is interacting with the medium; the rest of the audience will be "lost" while the interaction is taking place.
Wong says the true interaction of OOH lies with the mobile devices "merging" with the digital screens, or screens installed at or close to the points-of-purchase.
Indeed, Pure Media is launching a QR code billboard targeting consumers with mobile phones. Passer-bys will be able to take a picture of the QR code on the billboard from their mobiles in exchange for promotions from the advertiser. Roy Ma, managing director for Pure Media says Jabsen Insurance has expressed interest to launch a campaign via the QR code billboard. Ma says he is keen to get fast food restaurants on board too.
Perhaps the biggest unresolved issue for outdoor media is to come up with a common currency to measure the medium. Mindshare's deputy leader, Ada Tong says OOH comprises a diversified range of media vehicles and as Hong Kong is a relatively small market, the industry has yet to come up with an acceptable and economical approach to gauge outdoor media.
She explains while individual media owners have put together tailor-made measurement systems that cater for their own specific requirements, however, the difference in methodologies and frame of reference often make comparison of effectiveness across different OOH vehicles difficult if not impossible.
"The absence of an effective industry trading currency is probably one of the biggest barriers to making OOH a more accountable medium," she adds.
For instance, Buspak Advertising conduct post campaign research known as Transtrak research to measure the ad awareness of different campaigns and they used the data to develop a predictive formulation called Transtrak awareness curve for their advertisers to assess their campaign's effectiveness before actually launching it.
Nielsen and Out-of-home Video Advertising Bureau are leading the way in defining the standards for the industry, according to Rossi. He says new technologies for audience measurement are emerging and digital OOH will become as accountable as the web by the end of this year. He reveals they are also working with face tracking software companies to ensure full accountability when the client wants it.
The lack of a common currency certainly has not deterred marketers from advertising outdoors. Figures from Admango revealed ad spend for OOH increased 24.55% in 2008 compared to 2007 with total ad spend for OOH last year at HK$2.06billion.
However, outdoor media companies are expecting the year ahead to be very challenging. Chan from JCDecaux Transport says, "We will continue to make adaptations to our business strategies, incorporating new plans to provide booking flexibility and short production lead time for urgent campaigns, as advertisers become more focused on tactical and promotional campaigns".
Lam from Asiaray agrees. "The key is how we can re-shape the taskforce, redefine the business direction and turn them into opportunities." He says new technology and formats are the winning tools but, "most important, how fast we can respond to the market and accommodate advertisers' needs are the key to success".
- OMD Hong Kong
- Sony Ecrisson
- Taylor Nelson Sofres
- Buspak Advertising
- Cathay Pacific Airways
- McDonald's Restaurants
- MTR Corporation
OMD Hong Kong Related Stories:
- Beer scrum ahead of Hong Kong Sevens
- Advertising takes centre stage for the MTR
- Rahman to lead OMD digital team
- Alice Chow rejoins OMD as GM
- O&M unstoppable at HK AOTY Awards
- OMD apologises over MTR fiasco
- McDonald's opts for sleeker look
- HKUSPACE shares exam fever via Facebook
- Carefree introduces firework on wheels
- CCBA joins TVB for multi-platform push
- Advertising takes centre stage for the MTR
- Neo@Ogilvy boosts Hong Kong operations
- McDonald's, 35 and lovin' it
- Standard Life looks to affluent customers
- Levi's wants to hear your powerful voice
- Sex icon Kay Tse in Fortress brand push
- Gamers feed on Maccas marketing
- New business nosedives in first half
- Mountain Dew sides with hyper youths
- OMD lands HKU media buying business