Is digital out-of-home meeting expectations?

Digital outdoor ad revenue is rising fast and was up nearly 60% last year, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association. But is digital out-of-home reality matching the hype?

YES - Chris Marjoram, managing director, IPM
Any medium that increased its ad sales by as much as digital out-of-home in 2008 has to be considered a success. Digital will enable out-of-home to further increase its market share as it allows the advertiser to create a new relationship with the consumer.

Digital can both inform and entertain, as well as deliver messages in real time, which wasn't possible before.

By enhancing standard outdoor plans with a digital element, we anticipate overall budgets will increase rather than shrink. Clearly, the economic downturn will slow the tremendous rate of investment in the medium, but digital will still offer advertisers more rounded solutions than before. Outdoor is now the most exciting medium to be in and digital is a key reason for this.

NO - Ivan Clark, director of digital and creative solutions, Kinetic
Last year was undoubtedly the year of digital out-of-home and 2009 will again deliver big revenue increases to sales companies that invested wisely in the medium.

However, it will only account for about 10% of out-of-home budgets. Although the capital's commuter is well covered with digital on the transport network and roadside - with some notable exceptions - it's too focused on London. You can't reach a mass audience with digital out-of-home outside the M25. Research proving the increased impact of the medium has been scant.

Sales directors have not delivered the required flexibility, while planners have been slow to exploit the potential. Additionally, creatives have not always fully understood the new mechanics.

YES - Tim Sapsford, managing director, Meridian Outdoor
Exploring new digital developments in the out-of-home sector - and getting them right - was always going to involve some trial and error.

In the past two years, we have seen rapid progress. Building on early successes like Transvision, clients can now access a significant portion of London Underground digitally with CBS's Alive plant; central London's busiest roads with JCDecaux and Clear Channel's LED 48 sheets, as well as the major rail termini and shopping malls.

Every study I've seen shows that screens improve consumers' experience and brand perception, while driving impressive recall figures. My only disappointment with digital out-of-home is seeing it used in traditional two-week posting cycles. The medium offers ultimate flexibility and it's crying out to be exploited.

NO - Arum Nixon, associate director outdoor, radio and press, MediaVest
A few years on from the coming of the digital revolution in outdoor and the initial novelty is finally wearing off for consumers and advertisers alike. This is all part of a positive process as the market matures, but what does it leave us with?

There have been success stories, predominantly in higher dwell-time environments - CBS's ongoing £35m investment on the Underground being an example. But even here, we are still just scratching the surface of understanding the true value of the media and how best to maximise its potential.

It is in roadside where digital outdoor is still finding its feet. There are still just a handful of digital sites, with the usual London myopia. There are some great examples of digital outdoor being used to its full potential. But we are still a long way off the level of understanding or critical mass to be able to plan and buy an effective national digital outdoor campaign.

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