If you’ve never heard of assisted conversions, these describe that numerous brand interactions that occur before customers complete an enquiry or purchase. Each of these can be ascribed their own unique value, and businesses are certainly becoming increasingly aware of these in the modern age.

This growing awareness has helped to reaffirm the importance of out-of-home (OOH) media and advertising channels, which play an increasingly influential role in driving online brand interactions. This has been explored further in a study by Nielsen, which confirmed that OOH continues to driver a higher volume of online interaction than television, radio and print media in 2017.

So, what were the precise findings of this survey, and what are the key lessons that we should takeaway? Let’s take a look:

 

The Top Line Statistics: OOH Performs at three-times its Relative Ad Spend

When we look at the top line numbers from Nielsen’s latest study, there’s one clear and resounding takeaway. More specifically, OOH continues to deliver a superior ROI to any other form of offline advertising medium, with its ability to influence online brand interactions central to this.

If we look at the number of online activations that OOH generates across search, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, for example, we see an engagement rate that is three times the relative ad spend. This not only hints at the cost-effective nature of OOH channels (particularly traditional billboards), but it also underlines the effectiveness of offline marketing methods as part of an integrated campaign.

Similarly, OOH media accounts for 22% of all search interactions generated through offline channels, including television, radio and print.

Despite this is relatively high rate of success, just 7% of the cumulative advertising spend is invested into OOH channels, offering a clear indication of what could be achieved if brands restructured their marketing budgets and realigned their priorities.

 

OOH vs. Television – How do the Numbers Compare?

Once we delve deeper into these numbers, perhaps the most intriguing comparison is between OOH and television.

After all, TV has historically been the most effective channel for building mass brand awareness and driving online interaction, but it has been largely surpassed by OOH in the digital age.

In terms of online searches, TV retains a slight advantage over OOH, although the gap between these two channels has shrunk dramatically since 2013. Nearly one in five respondents (46%) claim to have utilised a search engine in response to seeing a billboard or OOH message during the last six months, with 57% being compelled to do the same by a commercial.

When it comes to social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram, OOH has already superseded TV as the dominant trigger for engagement. In fact, 24% of respondents interacted with a brand through Twitter after seeing an OOH ad during the last six months, while this type of media compelled 25% to engaged with businesses through Instagram.

In contrast, television encouraged 22% of viewers to interact through these channels, with the medium clearly losing traction to a less cluttered and more organic alternative.

OOH Study

While there is little to choose between these two statistics, OOH is growing at a far faster rate in this respect and is threatening to outperform television during the next three years.

There are a couple of insights that will please OOH advertisers here, with the first being that Instagram is firmly established as one of the fastest growing social channel across the globe. With an active user base that continues to achieve double digit growth, it trails only behind Tumblr and Pinterest, which have grown by a staggering 120% and 111% respectively during the last six months.

So, by becoming a key driver of interactions through channels such as Instagram, OOH media is clearly being established as a relevant and increasingly engaging marketing medium.

Secondly, it’s clear that the rising prominence of mobile is also helping OOH to drive a higher rate of brand interaction online. An estimated 80% of all social media time was being spent on mobile devices as recently as 2016, and this number is likely to grow incrementally in the future.

At the same time, a 2016 study completed by Outsmart found that people who see an OOH campaign or ad are 17% more likely to engage with a brand through their mobile. This highlights the natural affinity that exists between OOH and mobile, with customers increasingly likely to use their smartphones to interact with branded social channels across the board.

This creates a clear opportunity for brands, who can leverage OOH to promote their social channels and effectively target customers in an organic and nonintrusive manner.

 

OOH vs. Radio and Print – How the Former is Becoming Increasingly Dominant

While OOH is narrowly outperforming television and delivering a higher rate of online interaction (particularly through growing social channels), it is becoming increasingly dominant over similarly traditional mediums like radio and print media.

In truth, there should be little between these three channels, which have been sustained for generations and continue to battle against the proliferation of digital media. While radio and print are losing traction, OOH is continuing to perform robustly and provide an exceptional return of any given marketing spend.

Remember, 46% of adults have completed an online search after seeing an OOH advert. In contrast, just 35% have done this after listening to a radio ad, with 36% heading online in response to a newspaper of magazine message.

When it comes to social media, the chasm between these channels is even wider, with radio driving interaction rates of just 25%, 16% and 16% across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram respectively.

Similarly, only 27% of adults engaged with a brand’s Facebook page after seeing a print media ad or editorial. A further 16% responded to such an advert by visiting a company’s Twitter feed, while 17% interacted with brands through Instagram.

In the case of both print and radio, OOH triggers 10% more activations across search engines and Facebook. It also drives superior engagement rates of between 7% and 8% on Twitter and Instagram, earmarking OOH media as the most efficient and fruitful offline marketing channel in the digital age.

It is also clearly emerging as the king of assisted conversions, and a key focal point for all integrated marketing campaigns in the near-term.

 

Cost and Ad Spend – Why it’s Time for Marketers to Change Their Outlook

Despite these figures clearly highlighting the value and potential ROI associated with OOH in the digital age, brands have been slow to adapt their strategies. This is borne out by the allocation of the total, offline ad spend for 2016, which equated to a cumulative total $7.6 billion.

Incredibly, OOH spending accounted for just 7% of this total, with a staggering 58% invested in television adverts.

Despite its relatively poor performance and disproportionate cost, the ad spend for print media accounted for 18% of the total amount, with radio trailing behind on 12%.

Ad Spend

Now, while some may argue that these numbers are slightly skewed by the relatively low cost of OOH media and traditional billboard ads, there’s no doubt that brands should be realigning their spending priorities.

While television holds a slightly higher search activation share than OOH (27% to 22%), the gap here is narrowing while the latter outperforms every offline marketing channel across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Given this and the growing importance of social media as a key marketing tool for brands, it makes sense for businesses to invest more in OOH and establish this as the central element of their offline outreach efforts.

 

Our Final Thoughts – Why the Rise of Social and Mobile Makes Increased OOH Spending Key

As we can see, OOH is the best performing offline marketing channel, both in terms of its ROI and the level of interaction that it creates online.

One of key reasons for this is the simultaneous rise of social and mobile technology, which have combined to change the behaviour of customers and forced them to re-evaluate their perception of marketing channels across the board.

Certainly, modern consumers (and particularly Millennials) are more inclined to interact with a brand online and through their mobile device after seeing an OOH or billboard campaign, with social channels a natural outlet for them to engage directly with businesses and find out more.

OOH is also set apart by its organic and non-intrusive nature, as campaigns can simply blend into the natural environment at roadsides and bus stations nationwide.

This enables brands to target customers when they are looking to engage with content and material, while it also taps into the modern customers preference for curating their own content.

Remember, it is also estimated that we are now exposed to around 5000 sponsored messages per day, with television and print media particularly saturated and causing an increasingly cynical outlet among consumers.

Regardless, the bottom line here is that OOH media is now firmly established as the most effective offline advertising channel, and one that brands should be looking to make the fulcrum of their integrated marketing campaigns.

Source: study by OAAA