OOH looks forward to a year of connectivity in 2024

22 January 24

Fifty-one years ago, the author EB White penned an uplifting observation.

He wrote: “Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity has led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.”

Considering the year just gone, the poignancy of White’s observation holds true. Countries are in deep conflict; post-Covid economic recovery is stagnant; we are behind in climate actions; the continuous acceleration of AI is beyond our comprehension. There are numerous reasons to indicate that the world is in deep trouble.

Yet, if we consider the second of White’s sentences, there is still hope. Historically, crisis is a catalyst for innovation — when creative problem-solving comes to the fore; where humans come together to collaborate on projects, combining individual strengths to make a stronger whole.

In out-of-home (OOH) in 2024, we will see this ethos in action across the board. The more interconnected we become, the better it will be for people, business and the planet.

Reconnecting to consumer preferences

Will marketers and their agencies finally accept that consumers don’t really like advertising? Or, more succinctly, they don’t like advertising that gets in the way of what they are doing.

The 2023 Kantar Media Reactions report showed a wide disconnect between advertising that marketers favour versus advertising preferred by consumers.

Not one of marketers’ top five preferred channels were reflected among consumers. In fact, two of those — video streaming and music streaming — were among the top three channels in which consumers actively tried to ignore advertising.

Conversely, consumers are seeking more in-person experiences to complement their digital consumption.

As such, their top five channels all require people to “go out”. Events, cinema, point-of-sale and, yes, both OOH and digital OOH (DOOH).

So, while digital channels remain interwoven with our lives, perhaps 2024 will be the year that brands recognise the power of the OOH environment and its strength in bridging the ubiquitous digital realm and the one that consumers increasingly prefer to live in.

Embracing tech with a human touch

So most people don’t care about brands (shock, horror). However, 61% of British consumers do want brands to provide interesting or entertaining content offering useful experiences that stand apart from “business as usual” ads.

And yet creativity is caught in a paradox. On the one hand, we’ve entered an epoch of creative democratisation via generative AI as never seen before.

Advancements in creative technology — augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality and 3D at scale — continue to offer brands endless opportunities for storytelling beyond the physical location, rendering OOH arguably the most creative platform there is.

However, we need to remind ourselves that AI and creative technology are simply tools to augment the human imagination — not replace it.

Marketers need to refocus on and champion creativity — in product, service innovation, branding and marketing, design and content — using new and emerging technologies to push the boundaries of craft, while ensuring generative AI doesn’t become a railroad to cliché.

OOH is well-placed to push boundaries of creativity using all the tools at hand. But we need the human touch more than ever if we want to produce awe-inspiring work.

Or as Nick Cave says: “AI would have the capacity to write a good song, but not a great one. It lacks the nerve.”

Collaborating with sustainable partners

In 2024, alternative voices will challenge the status quo, while the call to action for sustainability will pose a non-negotiable issue for brands and businesses.

For supporters of Ad Net Zero, by June 2024 it will be mandatory to demonstrate accountability and improvement on emissions in a collective bid to deliver long-term wellbeing for all.

And with increasing expectation from Gen Z for brands to do the right thing, as illustrated by our recent research, Digital Natives in the Physical World, OOH needs a fresh look.

Nearly half of all UK OOH ad revenue is being reinvested in public infrastructure, including sustainable initiatives such as electric vehicle charging stations and smart street furniture that combine physical infrastructure, utility and real-time consumer data. It’s clear that OOH offers brands a diverse and trusted platform to communicate their sustainable journeys to citizens.

Plus, the evolution of Dentsu’s proprietary Media Carbon Calculator will provide brands with the essential measurement required to decarbonise future media decisions.

Connecting DOOH and retail media

The future of media is multifaceted, diverse and fluid — an outlook that fosters new integration opportunities for OOH in 2024.

Statista estimates that the UK retail media market is currently worth £3bn. That’s three times bigger than the OOH market in 2023.

And with 75% of all purchases still being made in physical shops, but most retail media opportunities being currently online, there is a huge opportunity for proximity DOOH (PrDOOH) to be more connected, targeted and addressable.

With continued developments in PrDOOH, the roll-out of in-store digital screens in major grocery retailers and the continued growth of online retail media and ecommerce, we expect to see new opportunities for advertisers to create value in this space.

Katy Hindley - Group Innovation Director

This article was first published by The Media Leader OOH looks forward to a year of connectivity in 2024 - The Media Leader (the-media-leader.com)