Digital Doughnut Contributor
Digital Doughnut Contributor 22 February 2022

A Window in 2022: The Next Year for OOH

Say goodbye to 2021! An exhausting year dominated by terms like ‘vaxxed’, ‘hybrid work’, ‘The Great Resignation’ and ‘NFT (non-fungible token)’. Terms that highlight how the pandemic continued to reshape the global economy, recalibrate attitudes to work-life balance and increase the scope in which our lives are now experienced online.

It is the embracing of digital transformation and adaptation to hybrid working that have most significantly modified the possibilities from a brand, media, and consumer engagement perspective, and shaped the foundations of what is to come in 2022.

Here's my actionable futures and predictions for 2022 and beyond.

Meta Media

While the pandemic may have made our worlds seem smaller at times, for many, our digital worlds have expanded beyond all recognition. The converging of digital, physical, and virtual realities has accelerated and blurred to offer transformed experiences in digital worlds – this is the Metaverse. A digital universe that is disrupting and challenging how businesses operate and engage with consumers through reimagined experiences.

“Virtual Shibuya” a digital reimagining of Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district designed by KDDI and dentsu, launched in May 2020 to allow users a space to meet, attend virtual events, art exhibitions, talks and gigs when mobility restrictions were in place across much of Japan.  

The launch of the platform attracted 50,000 users, and continued demand saw it expand to allow 550,000 people across the world gather at its latest Halloween event.

The expansion of these virtual worlds has led to a redefining of the role that OOH touchpoints can play in providing a gateway to the metaverse, as well as its role in shaping the world inside the metaverse.

In December 2021, Ocean Outdoor announced a partnership with Admix to bring OOH to the metaverse. The partnership will see digital replicas of bespoke iconic DOOH locations, synchronising advertising to play both in real-world locations and virtual NFT counterparts.

2022 will see an increased number of brands looking to blur digital and physical worlds through extended realities (XR). This will unleash a new wave of gamified engagement possibilities that could enhance our view of the world and redefine the role of location media.

Mobility First Approach

The volatility caused by the pandemic has emphasised the need to understand how movement patterns are shaped by real world events to a degree that hasn’t been seen in previous years. From transport, telecom, Google and even a Pret A Manger index, the last few years have seen an advancement in the use of data to help brands navigate the changing landscape. 

This thirst for data to provide an increasingly sophisticated picture of how societal and environmental factors are changing behaviours will continue to grow in 2022. With the continual easing of global restrictions, we will see a renewed focus on understanding new habitual behaviours, and their impact on global mobility. 

As our knowledge grows, the ability to use mobility learnings from the past to inform the future will usher in new possibilities in OOH. Armed with the combination of enhanced data and technologies, such as machine learning, we predict this year will see the rise of increasingly advanced predictive mobility modelling to further enrich our approach to location planning. 

Tools like PS Mind, developed in 2021, witnessed dentsu’s first foray into the use of AI to forecast mobility levels that inform and adapt OOH activations. Overlaying these tools with the use of mobility restriction, weather, seasonal event and brand data, OOH planning will become supercharged in 2022 with a Mobility First Approach.

OOH the Great Connector

The world's oldest medium is about to get a face lift. Investment in digitalisation, an explosion in location data, consolidation of media owners and demand for better attribution has set the stage for OOH to become connected to the digital ecosystem. In doing so, the channel will become more accessible to brands and omnichannel planners, laying the runway for OOH to grow beyond its current 4-6% share of the global media mix.

This backdrop has been a catalyst for growth in the development of programmatic OOH (PDOOH) as brands look to take advantage of the flexibility and control it can provide. The ability to use location intelligence to trigger automated buys and machine learning to optimise activity is the reason that PDOOH will continue to be one of the fastest growing channels in media.

From sustainable brand messaging triggered by pollution levels; to proximity OOH activated by store footfall data; to transport recommendations reflecting live weather patterns; data and PDOOH technologies are unshackling brands to drive the creative possibilities of OOH.  

Although only representing less than 5% of global DOOH investment, the increased demand from advertisers over the past year is showing no signs of slowing down and will see 2022 mark a milestone in the growth of PDOOH.  

As the programmatic pipes continue to be laid, and connections expand beyond just the OOH community, omnichannel/connected planning will become a key driver for the growth and direction of OOH and location planning.

The Pursuit of Purpose & The Green Canvas

Fuelled by the growing demand for purpose-driven consumption, brands are becoming increasingly vocal about their purpose and their sustainability credentials consequently turning to media and technology to build a more purpose-driven media experience. 

A Global Study revealed that “consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase, protect and champion purpose-driven companies”, whilst effectiveness researcher Peter Field highlights how ‘strong purpose campaigns’ have the power to drive overall media effectiveness. Armed with these insights, brand purpose communication will continue to form a core element of many marketers’ strategies in 2022.

From pollution absorbing billboards, to directional messaging for homeless shelters, the OOH industry has a significant role to play in the development of scalable green technologies and innovative value-driven activations.

Great strides were made in 2021, from Nestlé working with dentsu to become the first UK advertiser to use recycled paper in a national campaign, to JCDecaux France launching the first environmental, economic and social footprint calculator for OOH campaigns.

Whilst purpose-driven activations aren’t necessarily a new trend in OOH, they will continue to grow in frequency as brands become bolder in deploying more authentic, connected, relevant and scalable activations.

Going Beyond the Screen

Data and technology in OOH are increasingly commonplace, providing a springboard for a new wave of creative and unexpected experiences. The use of holographic projections, 3D anamorphic technologies, drone shows, and dynamic content capabilities are just a few innovations reimagining creativity in OOH. 

Unexpected experiences are cutting through with consumers and commanding greater attention by going beyond the traditional canvas notion of OOH. The collaboration between Fortnite and Balenciaga, promoted through 3D OOH, is a great example of how brands can create a unique experience in OOH and encourage consumers to reconsider perceptions of a brand.  

Furthermore, the use of Fortnite fan favourite ‘Doggo’ in the creative demonstrates how influencer marketing can work in OOH to unlock engagement with hard-to-reach segments.

The landscape emerging from the prolonged pandemic will see more brands creating multi-sensory immersive campaigns for a digital-weary consumer wanting ‘real’ experiences.

The Gucci centenary in October saw the Gucci Circolo pop up in the heart of East London offering devoted followers a chance to engage with the brand in a unique way, while Netflix also invested in an immersive ‘real’ pop-up experience for hit shows like Bridgerton and Money Heist. 

We believe that 2022 in OOH will be shaped by data, technology and see deeper collaborations and creative thinking that will recalibrate our approach towards efficiency and creativity.

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