Marketing leaders to chart the future of “The Outernet”

Unpredictable traffic patterns and enforced WFH edicts have hampered what was supposed to be an incredible year for OOH growth. But Covid has not stopped innovation in this space. As Internet fatigue starts to set in and nations step-up efforts to open up their borders, brand leaders are now looking at the growing possibilities of Outernet Marketing.

It never rains but it pours. As if it isn’t enough that traditional media has been the hardest hit by the pandemic, the tightening of marketing purse-strings has accentuated the despair for a lack of common media currency across TV, Radio, and OOH (Out-Of-Home) media.

Digital has also been preparing to deal with its own identity issues. But unlike its physical counterparts, marketers have at least been able to link dollars to some performance outcomes. For OOH, the irony is that the very benefits it has touted – eyeballs and traffic – are now at the mercy of MCO, CMCO, EMCO, and RMCO announcements that billboard owners have no control over.

If you look beyond shrinking revenues, though, it hasn’t all been darkness. Covid-19 has led to more OOH data-related press announcements, webinars, and audience mobility reports from media owners than ever seen before.

Also, a host of new studies have shown that OOH’s priming ability improves digital media results as well. For example, more than 52% of audiences reported taking action on their mobile devices after seeing a billboard creative.

But this hasn’t done much to progress development for an OOH media common currency though. A key reason for this has been the fragmented nature of the industry itself.

Spotlight on The Outernet

What really constitutes OOH media these days? Yes, it used to be billboards and posters. But now digital signage is a part of all place-based environments from transit hubs and office lobbies to supermarkets and taxis. Then there are the personal screens that moving audiences use. How do they fit into the various brand touchpoints that consumers interact with?

… Moving Walls has been front and centre of this shift. They have deployed a patented OOH measurement solution across four continents and recently added autonomously sequenced OOH and mobile advertising as another intellectual property…

There are plenty of organisations and interest groups that guide digital marketers or even traditional media channels. But the time spent when users are not actively on the internet and exposed to all sorts of physical media remains relatively uncharted.

Moving Walls has coined this “Outernet Marketing”.

The opportunity for marketers to engage moving audiences when they are not heads-down and online.

According to the AdTech company, “various sources put the average daily time spent on the internet at about five to six hours. A significant amount of working adults spend a similar amount of time outside their homes (probably more pre-pandemic).

Yet, while digital accounts for more than 50 percent of total advertising budgets, OOH accounts for a measly six percent at most.”   

The key difference has been addressability. As Malaysia’s media leaders rightly pointed out in the WEEKENDER’s recent “Emergency” edition, only digital platforms can provide audience guarantees.

Massive room for innovation in this space

There is no doubt, though, that the appetite for innovation in this space continues to grow centred around three main themes. The first is the acceptance that the industry needs to rally around a common currency.

Advanced OOH markets like the United States (Geopath), the United Kingdom (Route), and Australia (MOVE) have all adopted independent OOH audience currencies. In Asia, the AAMS (Association of Advertising and Marketing Singapore) has been the first to work with a tech platform to establish this.

The second theme has been the link between OOH and Digital. Today, OOH’s largest investors are digital-born brands from OTT and rideshare to food delivery and hotel booking portals. OOH primes audiences and digital activates. There are now plenty of campaign case studies that show improved results when OOH is used alongside digital.

Data from traditional digital marketing channels like ads and email are the only source of campaign feedback for now, it’s time to close the measurement gap by extending the data collection and feedback to Out Of Home too.”

Ravi Shankar
Chief Growth & Platform Officer

The third theme can simply be described as the “Billions of Screens” that are being equipped with the technology to serve advertising. The digital transformation of OOH has largely been about static billboards being converted to digital panels. But this is being eclipsed by the placement of digital screens in structures like smart kiosks, taxi tops, and even automatic sanitiser stands.

Takes sparks to light a fire

Unfortunately, these changes have come in spurts. Unlike digital, which has a host of industry associations, guidelines, and best practices to learn from, Outernet marketing is only just beginning to get defined.

Outernet has been an excellent platform to help brave the new normal and create opportunities from the challenges in 2020.”

Raja Singham
Co-founder and Managing Director
BAC Education Group

Moving Walls has been front and centre of this shift. They have deployed a patented OOH measurement solution across four continents and recently added autonomously sequenced OOH and mobile advertising as another intellectual property. Earlier this year, they executed the first blockchain-powered OOH verification for a Foodpanda campaign.

Marketing has undergone a major shift over the past decade. Gone are the days when marketers were happy to spend on physical media and ensure maximum viewership – today we want to ensure a strong ROI on dollars spent by measuring detailed metrics of reach, impressions, gender, psychographics, and impact per opportunity. This is the major reason why investments have moved from traditional media to digital. To me, Outernet is the “big idea” since it successfully marries the reach and viewership of traditional physical media and the metrics of digital/social media.”

Vach Pillutla
CEO, Al-Ikhsan Sports

They recognise that these sorts of case studies are just the tip of the iceberg though.

The company has launched The Outernet Marketing Innovation Group to chart the future of this space.

The group is made up of innovative brand marketers who will get exclusive access to Outernet Planning and Analytics technologies. These brands will execute a host of innovative campaigns, publish their learnings, best practices, and recommendations to guide the rest of the industry.

Foodpanda, as a digital brand, has been a huge believer of the offline priming possible using “Outernet” media. The opportunity is in marrying the planning, execution, and measurement with what we do in digital to sharpen this even further.”

Hasnain Babrawala
APAC Head of Brand Media and Procurement

Eight marketers from different brand personas – digital-born, those with physical stores, having a regional presence, and so on – have been chosen to ensure a variety in the types of briefs to be executed.

The initiative is also being run in Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, and India. Malaysia’s inaugural Outernet Marketing innovators are listed here.

The early adopters in any industry not only shape its future but also benefit the most. Remember Amazon is among the largest spenders on Google Search Ads. Today, Amazon itself is arguably the second largest search engine in the world and more product searches start on Amazon than anywhere else. 

Given our presence across a variety of OOH media sites, we have already embraced measurement technologies to evaluate performance and drive future planning. As people movement continues to be unpredictable, we look forward to deploying some of the newer capabilities around this evolving medium.”

Piong Teck Onn
Managing Director

The Outernet presents a similar opportunity for marketing leadership. There are no tech giants who dominate and different marketers can establish best practices to cater to their own industry vertical. For example, how can a physical brand make best use of their own digital media screens to drive new business? Or how can digital brands layer first-party data to drive OOH media decisions?

The canvas is set. The artists are here. Masterstrokes are inevitable.

Outernet Marketers on board:

Raja Singham
Co-founder and Managing Director – BAC Education Group
Vach Pillutla
CEO, Al-Ikhsan Sports
Piong Teck Onn (Jimmy)
Managing Director – Kotra Pharma
Ravi Shankar
Chief Growth & Platform Officer,
Hasnain Babrawala
APAC Head of Brand Media
and Procurement, Foodpanda
Vinayak Raj Anandaram
AVP Program Strategy and Insights, Star TV Network
Jaikishin Chhaproo
Head of Media & PR,
ITC Limited
Gesit Kumaraningrat
Sr. Marketing Strategist – SehatQ
Sigit Susilo
Territory Management – 

These are the first wave of Outernet Marketers. The next wave will be coming onboard soon. Reach out to Moving Walls to contribute and lead this transformative period.

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