The whole media landscape has changed fundamentally in the last ten years, and one of biggest changes is in the dynamic of the relationship between media and the audience it serves. Where once advertising handed down dispatches from on high, which the public often had no choice but to consume, the playing field is now far flatter and we are more used to being engaged in conversation rather than spoken at. As a result of this change (and the change in the expectations of the audience), it is a truism of 21st century advertising, that the advert which properly engages with the audience, and which allows (or better, plans) for a dialogue, is the advert that will more likely achieve its aims.

 

Alan Moore, author of ‘Communities Dominate Brands: Business and Marketing Challenges for the 21st Century’ provides a useful rationale for the explosion of engagement marketing:

 

‘…At its heart, is the insight that human beings are highly social animals, and have an innate need to communicate and interact. Therefore, any engagement marketing initiative must allow for two-way flows of information and communication. We believe, people embrace what they create.’

 

Improved technology; the rise of broadband, social media and smartphones in particular, has allowed this ancient need to socialise to come into far closer contact with advertising.

 

Out of home advertising provides a great example of this. It is one of the older advertising mediums yet remains an exciting growth industry. An (in ad terms) ancient format that is fuelled by all of the creativity, cross-pollination and data we associate with the best of modern advertising. It has adopted new technology while losing none of it’s immediate local power. Out of home will increasingly offer more interactive opportunities for brands and consumers, providing an advert that actually wants to give something back by being innovative and/or entertaining in return for the attention of the audience. Further, out of home adverts are evolving from a stand-alone format into a gateway to a brand’s digital/mobile home. The audience will quite possibly interact with an advert anyway, so it is vital that creative teams and media planners have considered how they will do this and how to generate the best outcome for the brand. The step, from seeing a billboard to acting on it, is shorter and easier to take than ever.

 

Brands increasingly have to provide a reason for attracting the attention of the consumer, and once they have it they need a well signposted route to the next step. Engaging out of home media fulfils both requirements.