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Out of home advertising was the first mass advertising media platform and has always been used for one purpose, brand building. However, an entirely new way of using the medium is now possible, the ability to broadcast content. One that businesses are only just waking up to.

OOH advertising has been used to reach audiences and influence behaviour since the time of the Pharoahs.

Egyptians used papyrus to make sales messages and wall posters. Indeed Commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found in the ruins of Pompeii and Arabia. When Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type printer in 1450, modern advertising was introduced through handbills and posters.

Of course, since then and particularly since the 20th century the plethora of methods for advertising has developed at rapid pace, from national newspapers to magazines, cinema, radio, the dawn of the internet to the prevalence of social media. However, OOH’s place in the advertising mix stayed very much the same. That is until the recent deployment of full motion digital screens and the ability to broadcast content.

OOH media owners have traditionally not produced their own content, unlike TV channels, meaning it has long been considered as a ‘brand building’ medium. But the dual effects of a maturing digital OOH (DOOH) market (reaching 69% of all UK adults every week) and a national footprint of full motion screens presents an interesting proposition to brands and publishers alike. In the battle to win peoples’ attention a content led approach can be a powerful tool with the same content used on the largest advertising canvas as that used on the smallest in the form of social media ads on your phone.

There are some striking synergies and points of difference between out of home and social the two that businesses can now take advantage of.

Both should work without sound – Facebook have said 85% of their videos are watched without sound while digital out of home also offers few sounds enabled opportunities. Despite the huge difference in size the right ad content can be shaped for both.

Short form edits – an increasing trend in social content is short form, snackable edits. The maximum slot for most digital out of home is 20 seconds with the need to quickly grab a consumer’s attention as they walk on by. It is the same principle a social media advertiser needs to apply when interrupting someone scrolling.

Reach – publishers increasingly rely on consumers to ‘like’ their pages and share their content enabling them to obtain substantial reach. However, while on social people increasing opt for a curated news feed. Out of home offers mass reach and scale and doesn’t require an algorithm or active consumer engagement. This means it is the perfect complement to the social media campaign.

Through working as a content distribution and amplification channel of enormous scale in tune with modern methods outdoor advertising remains the ideal adaptive canvas to communicate the objectives of a brand. If utilised correctly it will continue to be the best way to influence and inspire consumer decisions, just as it has done since the dawn of civilization.

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