2020 was a year defined by activism. On top of it all was a surge in digital activism calling for change. Globally, 4.2 billion people, or 53% of Earth’s population, are currently active on social media, according to a 2021 Hootsuite and We are Social report (via ZDNet). But after spending so much time looking at screens during Covid-19, a recent report by the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and The Harris Poll shows digital fatigue has set in, with 75% of consumers saying they often tune out digital device ads.
Amidst this digital weariness, however, is an opportunity to connect with people through out-of-home (OOH) advertising. As the world opens back up, companies can create OOH campaigns to capture people’s attention in the physical world and connect with people about the causes they care about.
As the vice president of growth at a company that offers an OOH advertising platform, here is why I believe OOH is emerging as a means to raise social awareness and spur action and how companies can leverage it.
Inspiring Social Action And Change
OOH advertising acts as a bridge between the physical and digital realms and can influence people long after they have encountered an ad. This is especially true with younger, more connected audiences who are tied to their mobile devices. In 2018, Facebook and Kantar Accenture found that younger audiences were more likely to be reached through Facebook and OOH ads for foods and beverages than through TV and print ads. This creates an opportunity for advertisers to drive social action. Crowdfunded OOH campaigns (full disclosure: My company offers a crowdfunding solution) are another example of how advertisers can use their collective voices to boost digital social movements. For example, my company helped users create a crowdfunded campaign for billboards to raise awareness of conservatorship abuse.
While there is no question in my mind that OOH can be an effective means to raise awareness for a brand or cause, 2017 Nielsen and Outdoor Advertising Association of America research shows that OOH advertising also secures more online activity per ad dollar than television, radio and print.
Leveraging OOH Advertising To Spread The Word On Social Media
According to the Nielsen research, 38% of adults surveyed had visited a Facebook page or posted a message on Facebook after seeing an out-of-home ad in the past six months and another 25% on Instagram, making OOH a useful companion to social media for a multichannel campaign. Organizations can leverage it as a tool to amplify what is happening online to drive real-world action.
Sometimes, an idea happens in a flash — and when companies purchase OOH space online or through buying platforms, campaigns can come to life just as quickly as they were imagined. This is beneficial when it comes to social causes where timeliness is key.
Launching Impactful OOH Campaigns To Drive Social Awareness
So, what does it take to create impactful OOH ads that drive social good? How can organizations be sure they are driving people from awareness to action? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Creativity reigns supreme. OOH lends itself to those who embrace out-of-the-box thinking. This is the space to be bold, playful and even provocative. I have found that OOH ads that embrace creativity and push the envelope are much more likely to make a splash when they are shared in the digital world, especially on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
• Keep specific goals in mind. Whether you are increasing awareness for a cause or want people to take action, a campaign’s creativity should go hand in hand with its goals. The objective is to have clear messaging that catches people’s attention, is informative and sparks curiosity to drive action.
• Leverage technology to boost an OOH campaign. Speaking of inspiring action, utilizing interactive technology such as QR codes or app clips can drive audiences to social media channels and encourage them to follow through on calls to action (CTAs). You can measure these efforts by tracking hashtag usage or by using image recognition software to track your OOH ads as they are shared across social media channels.
As with every advertising campaign, timing is everything. Now that social issues are at the forefront of people’s minds and many people are ignoring digital ads, there is an opportunity for brands to connect with communities in the real world and spark action for positive change.