Don’t forget what you knows best
I was invited to speak an MPA business lunch, hosted by the Outdoor Media Centre, in Manchester this week. The brief from the organisers to me “Why digital remains the growth engine for Outdoor Advertising” and “Social media and how Outdoor dovetails with it”
I decided to write a ten minute presentation from scratch about the social media bit and do a five minute spoken introduction covering digital and outdoor.
In a first for me I decided to script both entirely, as I believed I could write better than I talk, when I want to be clear and succinct.
In a game of two halves, I’d say I won the first and got soundly beaten in the second. I think the presentation was professional but lacked any sparkle, with hindsight even my attempted jokes were feeble.
Why was this? I have done numerous presentations about many subjects to loads of audiences over the years.
On the train back to London I decided to sleep on it, before making any conclusions.
The following morning I was asked by someone how it went and I replied “on reflection I prepared the wrong presentation and delivered a below par performance, sometimes one of the risks of working in isolation”
I thought I could write the presentation story by myself and then work up the slides and script to create a captivating narrative.
Wrong, and I should have known so. When I worked for companies, I always talked through my ideas with those who’d listen, that way you weed out the bollocks and get to pinch other’s good ideas.
Why do we sometimes forget what we know best.
I also now know I can’t captivate by talking the words I write, and won’t attempt to do so again.
If you’d like to read my introduction, the full five minute version is below.
You can read my other blogs and about what I do here: http://www.balloo.co.uk/
I’d like to say a few words.
All views I’m going to express today are my own, or borrowed from people with wider eyes and bigger brains than I. These opinions should not be considered the official view of any organisation, be they a buyer, seller, ad agency, brand owner, trade body or supplier. I can say what I like, and I like that.
Digital as a word has become redundant in the context of nearly all advertising and marketing communications. I recommend Tess Alps’ piece in Campaign (subscription needed) two weeks ago for an articulate explanation on why we should dump the digital word, except where it is perfect for describing the opposite of “analogue”.
Consequently, it continues to serve a purpose in Outdoor to distinguish between traditional posters and those panels where analogue print has been turned into digital pixels, with all the benefits that brings, except perhaps for a media owner or developer’s capital expenditure.
I have been asked to talk about digital Outdoor today, specifically how it remains the growth engine for the media channel.
The number of digital panels in the UK will of course continue to increase, not in my view to the 90% of all Outdoor by 2020 predicted by Matthew Dearden, CEO of Clear Channel. However that hasn’t stopped me from half-borrowing his print-to-pixels sound-bite.
Creative agencies will increasingly by default supply copy most appropriate to the display screen, including legible fonts and exploitation of full-motion, where it is available. In my time at Kinetic I conducted research proving a moving image attracts more eyeballs for longer spells than static. However, movement should never be treated as compulsory. Black and white copy and subtle imagery still have a place in other colourful and moving image media, if the creative idea and message warrant it. This may appear old-school to some, sometimes it is simply a creative choice.
Flexibility is a word that has also fallen out of favour with me. I frequently hear or read people’s comments, normally media owners, when they bang-on about how most digital Outdoor campaigns are still booked traditional Outdoor style, for two weeks, all day, with one piece of creative. If you do find the need to preach about this please bear something in mind. Outdoor has long sold itself, with considerable success, as a high impact, high frequency medium, getting a simple branded message into people’s brains, sometimes even subliminally. Many of the biggest supporters of Outdoor are sold on this concept, beware your flexibility sales patter doesn’t make them think about spending less money on Outdoor to the benefit of other media or the procurement officer’s bonus.
Attracting brands to Outdoor because of the different capabilities of digital looks to me like a more commercially astute strategy.
Slightly off-piste for today’s brief, I do think there are a generation of younger planners and brand managers who could do with educating, maybe for the first time, as to the strengths of broadcast 6 sheet and billboard campaigns. This is where I believe the bread-and-butter of Outdoor still lies, and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Once converted to the commercial attractiveness of the Outdoor audience and the tremendous media value available, planners may then be ripe for an up-sell to premium and higher-yielding formats, including digital.
When I return later, I plan to concentrate mainly on why social media and all Outdoor, particularly digital, are natural bedfellows and why this is unlikely to be a fad that will soon go-away, like many over-hyped forecasts of future media usage have in the past. One example that springs to mind is “the great red-button con” of the late nineties, where widely held opinions stated 80% of TV ads would be interactive within five years. This guff failed to consider what people fundamentally watch the TV for, the programmes. Ads are generally only fillers that pay for the programmes they inhabit and most people wouldn’t watch most commercials by choice, particularly for the additional benefit of seeing a longer version. It seems to me the creative excellence of the majority of ad agencies doesn’t extend to long-form narrative content. This is a benefit for Outdoor where the brutal simplicity of a brand message is often the most effective.