Coming soon to a gas pump near you

May 27, 2008 at 8:08 pm Leave a comment

Judi Schindler

Try Googling “digital out of home media.” In doing so this morning, I got 27,500 hits. My cursory research indicates that number will increase exponentially over the next few months.

What started as a kiosk in a hotel lobby or an occasional elevator video screen has now become a $2 to $3 billion industry with projections of $10 billion for next year. Some 900,000 screens are currently in place at gas stations, health clubs, coffee bars, train platforms – even men’s urinals. (Now there’s a thought.)

The advertising industry, which has been wringing its hands over the ever-slipping numbers for traditional media, is jumping on this bandwagon with both feet.

Many of the major ad agencies have formed special divisions to manage it. The media companies are delivering “narrowcast” programming. A new trade association (the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau) has been formed. And MediaPost, the online marketing publisher, held its first forum on the channel in April and launched Digital Outsider, a weekly e-letter, May 23.

And if there was any doubt about the legitimacy of the medium, the Nielsen Company, best known for its television ratings, is planning to launch a similar service for out-of-home media.

What’s all the fuss?

Proponents believe that out-of-home media is a way for advertisers to reach active, highly mobile consumers at times when they are more or less captive. They may be waiting for an airplane or train, sitting in the back of a taxi or waiting in line at a store – occasions when they have time to be attentive.

Media buys can be targeted by geography, interests, demographics. When combined with cell phones, out-of-home ads can be interactive. (Call or text for a free sample or coupon.)

Media Life Magazine says that travel, financial services and automotive are the top categories for out-of-home digital media. Local businesses like dry cleaners, real estate and healthcare providers are also said to do well with it.

While out-of-home may not be appropriate for all advertisers, others may well find it worth a test run. Success, however, will ultimately depend on targeting, messaging and integration with other forms of marketing.


Entry filed under: Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Strategy, New/Social Media.

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