If you’ve been in the business for more than a decade – you’ve done a fair amount of outdoor advertising at some point in your career. But, when we say outdoor advertising, most of us think billboards. We’re very right but we are also very wrong. Today, that’s just a sliver of what outdoor (now called out of home) advertising can deliver for clients.
Out of home advertising includes wallscapes, and visual messaging on commuter rails, subway, taxi tops, airport advertising, cinema ads, sporting arenas, grocery store ads, fitness clubs, and the list goes on and on. But out of home goes far beyond any sort of sign. Think of on site activation, boots on the ground people doing sampling and so much more.
My guest Betsy McLarney, the President of EMC Outdoor, has had a bird’s eye view of the different changes in outdoor advertising over the years. Betsy is on the podcast to share with us some unique ways out of home advertising can be used to help us deliver our client’s core message.
Join Betsy and I as we think of bigger and broader uses of out of home advertising by learning about:
- Out of Home (OOH) media: what is it? What are some advantages of out of home advertising?
- How digital outdoor advertising really makes the experience come alive for consumers
- Using OOH to hit consumers with messages on multiple touch points throughout their day
- It’s not just for B2C: how B2B can utilize OOH to enhance their campaigns
- Using street teams effectively to get your message out to live people
- Why OOH isn’t just for national brands and can be used effectively for even local campaigns
- Matching the budget to where the OOH campaign can be the most effective
- Can OOH still be the main means of advertising?
- How OOH makes digital advertising more effective
- Creating buzz by finding creative ways to place ads outdoors
- Why outdoors isn’t the place to tell a big story
With 19 years of Outdoor Advertising experience, Betsy McLarney has planned, managed, and executed many fully integrated Out of Home (OOH) advertising campaigns throughout North America and worldwide.
Today she leads a team of experienced, dedicated strategists who help clients maximize the potential of and understand the advantages of out of home and outdoor advertising (OOH), by complementing a robust integrated media plan. EMC Outdoor works seamlessly with their agency clients or direct with a brand’s media department to deliver pitch-perfect programs and outstanding results each and every time. Complete client satisfaction is their ultimate goal.
To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/betsy-mclarney/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.
If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below:
Table of Contents (Jump Straight to It!)
- Out of Home Advertising: An Overview
- Interactive Out of Home Advertising
- Reaching Consumers with Multiple Touch Points
- Out of Home Advertising and B2B
- Utilizing Guerilla Marketing
- The Cost of Out of Home Advertising
- Advantages of Out of Home Advertising
- The Return of the Billboard
- Digital Out of Home Advertising
- Advertising and Daily Life
- Where to Get Started
- Examples of Effective OOH Campaigns
- Where to Find Betsy
If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits, too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host Drew McLellan.
Drew McLellan: Hey everybody. Drew McLellan here with another episode of build a better agency. Today we’re going to go a little old school. We’re going to talk about something that’s been around in our business for literally decades maybe even centuries. We’re going to talk about outdoor advertising. Back when I started in the business, outdoor advertising really meant paper billboards. Today it’s so much more. We’re going to dig into that.
So let me tell you a little bit about our guest and why she is the perfect person to talk to us about this. So Betsy McLarney is the owner of EMC Outdoor. Betsy has over 20 years of outdoor advertising experience. She and her team have planned, managed, and executed many fully integrated, and you’re going to be amazed at what fully integrated means, out of home advertising campaigns throughout North America and all over the world. She and her team work with agencies, brands, media departments to make sure that they help their partners deliver pitch perfect programs and outstanding results each and every time and through a much wider array of media than we think about when we think about out of home. So that’s what I want to dig into today is what does out of home mean today and how can we leverage it for our clients. So, Betsy, welcome to the podcast.
Betsy McLarney: Thanks for having me, Drew.
Drew McLellan: So as I said in the intro, back when I got into the business outdoor was really billboards and it was paper billboards. Today when you talk about out of home, give us a sense of the depth and breadth of what that is.
Out of Home Advertising: An Overview
Betsy McLarney: Sure. It’s also known as outdoor advertising, out of home media. The breadth and spectrum of media is very wide. Sometimes I like to tell people what it’s not. It’s not TV, radio, print, direct mail, internet advertising, or mobile advertising. However, it complements all of those other media channels. If I were to talk about what the best known formats are, as you mentioned, billboards, posters, wallscapes, transit ads like bus ads, commuter rail, subway, even taxi tops are all fall into that transit bucket as well as airport advertising.
Some of the lifestyle media choices, which are numerous, but just some examples of that would be cinema ads, sporting arenas, grocery store ads, fitness clubs, and any of these mediums could be digital or static. To add to that, part of the out of home ecosystem, also includes street teams. We can activate on the street around an event with brand ambassadors, signage, and wheels. It helps to generate brand loyalty and influence consumers with the positive interactive one on one experience.
Drew McLellan: When you say wallscapes, I remember you and I were talking and we were talking about how literally now somebody can buy like the side of a building. So it’s not an outdoor board per se, but they can turn it into an outdoor board. Right?
Betsy McLarney: Absolutely. It used to be painted walls. Then came the ability to put hardware on a building and stretch either a mesh or a vinyl onto that building. Then today even some of those vinyl or mesh wallscapes are turning digital. So you have a number of different choices just within the wallscape category alone. Really it will depend on the market, the permits, what the municipality will allow. Then we can source a number of different wallscape options for our clients and make a recommendation based on what their branding strategy is.
Interactive Out of Home Advertising
Drew McLellan: But the wallscapes, one of the things I think that’s interesting about them if I understand it right is that they can be pretty interactive. So whether you’re in Times Square or Vegas. I was, of course, at Disney World and I was watching a parade. As people were tweeting with a hashtag, the tweets and the pictures they were tweeting were showing up on the side of one of the moving floats.
Betsy McLarney: Yes. You mentioned two great meccas for outdoor advertising, primarily now digital outdoor advertising. One is New York in New York City, Times Square and the other is the strip in Vegas. Both have those interactive signs. A great advantage of Out of Home Advertising is that it makes the experience come alive for the consumers as they are moving around, going about their entertainment activity or just being a tourist in those markets. But now they have the chance to interact with the signage and see their creative photos or whatever they hashtag show up on this screen. Of course, we all know people like to take selfies. So that can also come into play with the cellphone selfie with their message behind them. So it’s just all about the engagement and a memorable experience. That only enhances the brand.
Drew McLellan: So if an agency wants to explore this some more, it sounds like if you’re in the 50 plus range like I am, you have to really expand your idea of what outdoor is all about and also how and where the consumer might bump into outdoor. So talk to us a little bit about sort of the depth and breadth of how consumers are, I think in some ways when I listen to you talk and you and I have had a lot of conversations around this, it’s almost like oh yeah I never thought about that. We sort of take it for granted that it’s just there. Like, for example, when you go to get gas and there’s something on top of the pump. So talk to us about sort of the expanse that is out of home today.
Reaching Consumers with Multiple Touch Points
Betsy McLarney: Given the broad spectrum of media choices, what we would recommend to a brand is to provide multiple touch points in that consumers daily journey. Think of it like an infrastructure play with the media embedded in the everyday path that people take from their home, their office, recreational activities, they may be traveling. It’s really a footprint that allows brands to connect and interact. I don’t know if your listeners realize, but 70% of our waking hours are spent outside of the home. We’re really a nation on the go. So very often we’re in a car, on a train, or biking, and we’re going from point A to point B. We could pass any number of outdoor media during this commute like billboards, wallscapes, station posters, or bus ads. Our daily routine of dropping the kids off at school or filling up the car or food shopping can be peppered with out of home media like bus shelter ads, pump top ads, and grocery store posters, maybe even a digital network.
If we’re on vacation, we could be easily exposed to airport advertising, branded bar essentials, and cinema ads. Or we could be going to a festival, concert, or sporting event and there’s street teams handing out promotional items, hosting play to win games, and providing free transportation via wrapped vehicles. All of these activities are spent in and out of the out of home grid presenting multiple touch points for reaching people on the go.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. I bet most people don’t think of half of those things. We just sort of take them for granted. Right?
Betsy McLarney: Right.
Out of Home Advertising and B2B
Drew McLellan: Yep. So as I’m listening to you talk and I think about some of the examples that I’ve seen in my own traversing around the globe, I think a lot about consumer brands. Is this a consumer brand play or is there a place for B2B in all of this?
Betsy McLarney: We deploy outdoor media strategies whether it’s a direct to consumer campaign using traditional media or lifestyle media choices like I described. Another Advantage of Out of Home Advertising is that also very effectively it to enhance a B2B strategy especially around trade shows. People fly in for major trade shows. They’re taking transportation. There’s an awful lot of entertainment and dining that happens around the trade shows. There’s a need to get from point A to point B. Again, they’re in the out of home world and we can use the out of home media or the outdoor advertising media very effectively to surround people during this key day or key days of a trade show.
Utilizing Guerrilla Marketing
Another great advantage of out of home advertising is that it can be used in many unique ways. You could combine traditional media options with street teams and very effectively create kind of a domination or a saturation in a particular area. There are a lot of brands that activate around sporting arenas. They’re not only in the arenas now mostly with digital signs, they could be outside. I mean, just think of a football game and the tailgating that goes on prior to that game. We’ve been involved in a program years ago that really helped to enhance the different brands’ messages that were inside the arena by also activating outside during the tailgating, having aerial banners fly overhead, providing food from a branded food truck. We also passed out promotional items that people carried with them into the game. So that’s another very effective way to use not only the signage but some alternative media options and one on one engagement all at once.
Drew McLellan: So street teams and having folks interact with people as they walk in and out of a trade show or a sporting event or something like that. That suggests to me that that is ripe with both opportunity and the opportunity to do that badly. What are some of the best practices around using street teams and making sure that that’s a good experience for whoever the target audience is as opposed to people chasing them down in parking lots?
Betsy McLarney: I think the best practices for street teams is to allow first of all enough time to plan an effective activation. That could include not only the length of time that you’ll be activating, where you’ll be activating, but really for us to understand what the goal is, the purpose is and begin to think about the different elements that would go into that kind of campaign. Those elements may be affected by permitting issues and that sometimes can dictate the amount of time we would need to activate. So having said all of that, that’s the upfront need to plan.
Now, you have to also back that up with the people, the contingency plans because at a minimum you could have security or weather affecting your program especially when you’re outside, obviously. You definitely have to take that into account. Again, you need enough time to plan effectively because once you put people on the street, no matter how much you anticipate all the variables that could come into play, you need to be sure that you have all your bases covered because it could be very unpredictable what could happen once you’re on the street.
Speaking of that, you need really good people in the field to manage those teams, to help them anticipate any reactions that they have and also to represent the brand in the way that they’re expecting and interact with that audience, because the last thing you want to do is create a bad impression. It’s very important that the brand is represented well and leaves a very positive experience with the person who’s passed by, engaged with this brand ambassador, and possibly walked away with a promotional item, some type of handout that’s valuable to them for whatever the reason is. Nevertheless, it’s something that they wanted.
Drew McLellan: What kind of people are good street team people? Because I think a lot of agencies and a lot of brands probably think we’re going to go do this ourselves, we’re going to put our people out on the street. I know brands do this all the time. They’ll put their salespeople out there, whatever. What makes a good street person versus somebody who’s going to underwhelm or in some ways create a bad impression for the audience?
Betsy McLarney: Well, we’ve been asked to recommend the type of brand ambassadors or we’ve been told what kind of brand ambassadors that the agency or the brand is looking for. Generally, you want to look for rather clean cut, diverse in terms of male, female, it may be ethnicity, but you want somebody who’s personable who wants to talk and engage with people as they’re passing by, that can deflect and regroup if somebody didn’t want to interact with them.
The goal of the campaign could be to register or collect information or enroll or it could be to provide information to the person who’s passing by. At a trade show, you might want to direct people to the booth. So, you want to give them something that will inspire them, so to speak, to go to the booth. You’re not trying to tell a story. Just like all outdoor media really should not try to tell a story. It’s the main punch line and you want to encourage the person you’re interacting with to take action to some degree whether it is to go online, to visit a booth, to go into the store and purchase a product. There’s a whole range of media strategies that apply to street teams and we can help to effectively advise what type of people would be best. Sometimes, as I said, the brand has an idea. They may want an all-female team. They may want a very diverse team, but for sure we’re looking for somebody who’s done this before, can be on the street, be personable, and loves to interact with people who are passing by.
Drew McLellan: I think trade shows are one of those places where most brands and probably their agencies go in a little under prepared. So this sounds to me like you would be planning this what months in advance, right?
Betsy McLarney: You’d be surprised. We’ve been contacted two to three weeks outside of the starting date of a trade show. The best plans are made with some time in between the activation date, the start date of the trade show, and when they first contact us. They also have more opportunity to tap premiere inventory, premiere locations within that marketplace. Sometimes if they are slow to contact us, some of the premiere locations are just not available. The ones that would really be focused on people that are coming to the trade shows, the conventioneers, and their path between the airport, the hotels, the convention center, and most likely where they’re going to be entertaining whether it’s meals or hospitality events.
We just finished doing a lot of work in Chicago for an oncology convention. There was a high demand for the media in that market. We did have an advertiser that got FDA approval at the last minute and came to us. We were able to successfully find some good opportunities for them, but their choices were very limited because of the short window we had time to activate in. We did make recommendations. We will always make recommendations and we’ll be honest about whether this is an effective use of the budget.
Drew McLellan: So an oncology conference is a perfect example of what people probably don’t think of when they start thinking about out of home advertising. So that’s the exact kind of B2B thing that I was thinking about where there really is more play for this on both the B2B and B2C side than typically we think about.
Betsy McLarney: Absolutely.
The Cost of Out of Home Advertising
Drew McLellan: As I’m listening to you talk, some of these solutions sound pretty expensive. Is there a place in out of home for local and regional brands or is this more of a national brand big budget play?
Betsy McLarney: Your question is a loaded one. Yet another advantage of out of home advertising is that from a cost effective standpoint relative to other media channels, out of home has some of the lowest CPMs in the industry and it also has very high impressions that can combine easily with other media channels, media plans when they’re evaluating the effectiveness from a metrics standpoint. In terms of whether you would use out of home locally, regionally, nationally, I’d say yes to all of that. You can have a very effective campaign on a local level where you can saturate a particular area of the market knowing that the target audience is located in that area or their travel patterns, their behaviors are such that your brand can connect with them with out of home media.
You can also take that brand depending on the distribution of the product or service regionally or nationally. In terms of its relative cost at that point, it can get more expensive as the number of markets increase. Especially, you have to understand, and a lot of brands do, but sometimes they’re a little unrealistic and when they come with budget expectations to spend $20,000 in Manhattan, that’s just not going to work. We would immediately advise that either they find a way to pull other dollars from other budgets or we would say it’s just really not an effective use of your budget. We’d be very honest with them about it. $20,000 though could go very far in …
Drew McLellan: Wichita, Kansas. Sure.
Betsy McLarney: Where are you located? Wichita. Yeah. I was going to say Des Moines, Iowa.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. Right.
Betsy McLarney: So it really depends on the market and the budget. But it can be very effective, like I said, not only on a cost basis but also locally, regionally, nationally even if you taking it overseas depending on the budget.
Drew McLellan: Before we delve into this any deeper, I want to take a quick pause and then we will be right back. I get that sometimes you just can’t get on a plane and spend a couple days in a live workshop. So, hopefully, our online courses are a solution to that. Lots of video, hours and hours of video, a very dense detailed participant’s guide, and all kinds of help along the way to make sure that you get the learning that you need and apply it immediately to your agency.
Right now we’ve got two courses that are available. We have the agency new business blueprint and we have the AE bootcamp. So feel free to check those out at agencymanagementinstitute.com/ondemandcourses. Okay. Let’s get back to the show.
So I think in back in the day outdoor, which is what it was called back then, outdoor was sort of always thought of as a support medium, that it was always used in conjunction with other more storytelling mediums. I want to get into your comment about this is not about to tell a story in a minute, but is that true today or does it make sense for some brands that out of home is their primary media option?
Betsy McLarney: It can go either way. It really depends on what the brand strategy is. Working with a partner to understand all the choices and how the strategy could apply, they could either want to support a much more robust plan or they could use it almost to stand out and stand alone with just outdoor advertising on iconic locations for instance or massive billboards along highways. I’ll give you an example, Cracker Barrel is a perfect example. They’ve built out their whole network of restaurant chains using outdoor advertising. It was an integral part of their strategy to be located right off of the exit on an interstate. They were targeting interstate travelers, people using their car to get from point A to point B. They used billboard locations very effectively. They were located just ahead of the exits where you would pull off. We’ve all been there before when we’ve been on the road traveling for a long distance and you just want to stop and get something to eat, maybe freshen up. So they’ve built out their whole strategy singularly with billboards.
Advantages of Out of Home Advertising
There are other ways to complement media channels using out of home as a support medium. As mentioned the advantage of out of home advertising is that it really does work very effectively whether it’s combining it with radio, TV, digital. Digital, it’s very, today there’s a number of studies out that demonstrate that there’s a digital lift when using out of home. 40% of people are more likely to click on an ad or search for a product that they’ve seen on an out of home location. That’s recently come out in a study. It just underscores how much it can help to lift the recall and sales potentially of some of the other media channels that are telling a bigger story about the brand.
Drew McLellan: Well, that makes perfect sense. Right? I’m walking through a mall or I’m walking down the street or I’m on a bus or in a cab and then something whizzes by and today we immediately go oh I want to know more about that. We grab our phone.
Betsy McLarney: Right.
Drew McLellan: Yeah.
Betsy McLarney: Yeah.
Drew McLellan: So Cracker Barrel, that’s interesting. So again that’s location based. Really for them it probably was pretty darn inexpensive because they probably only bought a couple boards leading up to their location. Then for hundreds of miles you wouldn’t see a Cracker Barrel sign and then when you got to the next one couple miles out you’d have a couple signs. You’re right. I’m sure. I can’t imagine anybody has driven across the country and not A seen those signs and B not stopped on occasion at a Cracker Barrel when they needed to exercise the kids or whatever on a long car trip. The relatively inexpensive cost of this method and reminder type advertising is another advantage of out of home advertising.
Betsy McLarney: Who doesn’t remember, and they’re still up, all those signs that you’re 200 miles from South of the Border?
Drew McLellan: Right.
Betsy McLarney: You’re 190 miles from South of the Border. I mean, most people have traveled the east coast have seen those signs as you approach South of the Border in South Carolina.
Drew McLellan: Yep.
The Return of the Billboard
Betsy McLarney: It’s something that you can even joke about, but those boards have been up for years. I mean, I remember them when I was traveling as a young child. They’ve only gotten more iconic and people still talk about them today. Let me also give you an example of how one billboard can really drive the sales of in this case it was an Xbox gaming launch for Rise of the Tomb Raider a few years ago. They named this campaign Survival Billboard. It capitalized on one billboard, eight gamers that endured a test of Laura Croft like grit facing harsh weather conditions controlled by the public via a live stream.
It took 20 hours for the winner to emerge. But in that process, it reinvented one of the oldest advertising mediums into a high suspense reality show. Again, it was just one billboard. You had so much connection with the people who were watching via live stream or in person trying to throw the most harsh conditions at these people to see who could last, who could survive on this billboard. That same Survival Billboard campaign resulted in an eight minutes average dwell time versus eight seconds for regular billboards. 3.5 million views and 30,000 social media comments. So, again, when we talk about the lift with other mediums especially with online, mobile, digital strategies, outdoor advertising can be extremely effective. That’s a great case study for it.
Drew McLellan: Well, it also is a reminder that we need to think differently. This is an old dog that has learned a lot of new tricks.
Betsy McLarney: Yes.
Drew McLellan: So we need to think differently about what’s possible and doing something like that that literally is really like a live feed is not something most people would think about when you talk about an outdoor board.
Digital Out of Home Advertising
Betsy McLarney: Right. The possibilities especially with digital out of home, which is not just billboards, which today accounts for about 17% of all billboard ads are digital now, but it’s all the networks, the place based networks that are in grocery stores. Another advantage of out of home advertising is that it can be found in many different places. They could be in subway stations. When you go into New York or many other markets that have rail or transit shelter ads, newsstands, all of those are being converted into, especially in the high traffic areas, are being converted into digital boards. Once you do that, you can network those boards by geography and placement and you can have the same message on all the signs simultaneously being broadcast or you could do something very creative and do something very singular. The digitization of out of home is allowing for not only the change of copy, the mass reach to expand even more, but it also gives the consumer an opportunity to interact with the ever present mobile smartphone in their hand.
Drew McLellan: Right. Well, it seems to me that it goes from being this passive it’s just there, it’s a sign, if you will, to an experience. One of the things that one of the buzzwords that we’re hearing throughout marketing is that it’s all about creating experiences for consumers. It seems like what used to be a pretty static flat media now has become one of the premiere ways to create experiences whether it’s with street teams or it’s interactive billboards or whatever it may be.
Betsy McLarney: Absolutely. A recent study by the digital place based advertising association put out a measurement that in 2015, 50% of media planners included digital out of home in the plan. That shot up last year to 61%. So the industry itself, the advertising industry, people who plan and buy digital out of home are recognizing that this should be at least evaluated if not included in the media plans that they’re devising for their brands across multiple media channels. That digital out of home is really taking a place in their plans today is very exciting and creating all kinds of opportunities.
By the way, creatives love whether it’s digital or it’s static poster paper board locations, they love to think creatively about the medium and explore the possibilities of what is possible with this medium which is yet another advantage of out of home advertising. We’ve been involved a number of times in those kinds of discussions where they’re just throwing out ideas and what would you do with these ideas given the market? Who would we want to reach, their behavior, the patterns that can be created, and the multiple touch points that we can use to surround them in their daily routines? We’ve been in those sessions and we’ve come up with some very unique strategies for the client in those cases.
Drew McLellan: What do you think would surprise people? What is possible that people would go, “Huh, I would have never thought you could do that in out of home?” What are some of the things you’re doing that people probably aren’t thinking about?
Advertising and Daily Life
Betsy McLarney: That’s a really good question. I think the most interesting part about out of home is that, again, it’s in our daily lives and that is the biggest advantage of out of home advertising. It’s sprinkled throughout. Most people aren’t recognizing that the media is around them. They go and they gas up the car, for instance, and there’s a TV talking to them or there’s an ad on top or even the pump handle might have some advertising. You could surprise somebody with an ad in just that very limited space in that very limited time. Or you could expand it as we’ve been talking about, creating a network of digital signs that people can engage with and create that buzz and maybe even viral activity as a result of it.
Drew McLellan: As agencies begin to think about this, are there some resources or places… So if I have a creative team and I want them to be thinking about some of these new applications to basically this old school medium, are there places where people can go to look for best practices, examples? Are there associations or places that collect sort of the top performing or the most creative examples in all of these medias? Are there places for agency folks to go to kind of get the creative juices flowing?
Where to Get Started
Betsy McLarney: Well, the best place to go would be the Outdoor Advertising Association of America or OAAA.org, its website. They provide a wealth of information on outdoor media, formats, stats, figures, case studies. They have a lot of information that if somebody wanted to educate themselves on the industry and the types of formats that are available. They certainly can provide a good starting place for that.
Drew McLellan: Okay.
Betsy McLarney: I would say really if you work closely with an out of home partner agency, they can also help you to understand all your choices. How it would be applied, what are the pros and cons, and really speak in terms of not only rationale and how it would merge and blend with what they have in mind, but you can talk in terms of metrics and return on investment. Recently Omnicon Group released a benchmarking report that stated that for every dollar spent in out of home, six dollars is created. So it’s definitely worth evaluating the media from that perspective.
Drew McLellan: So earlier you made the comment that outdoor, out of home is not probably the place to tell a big elaborate story. I think you said it’s the headliner, the punchline, can you expand on that thought a little bit? Because I think that today, we hear a lot about you have to tell stories and it’s all about the storytelling. So sometimes maybe we dismiss things and we think oh I can’t. That’s not a medium where I can really tell this big long story, but obviously there’s a place for outdoor in the storytelling.
Betsy McLarney: Absolutely. You can think of outdoor advertising formats in terms of how many there are. So they come in all shapes and sizes. They could be static or digital. The bottom line is, as I mentioned earlier, we’re on the go all the time. So the reason not to tell a story in out of home media is because the people that you’re targeting are moving through their normal daily lives. They’re taking certain paths on their routine, their daily commutes and routines. As they’re moving, they need to be able to get the message more quickly.
Out of home, when you asked earlier is it a good support medium, it is because if you have a bigger story to tell it would make sense to do that either online, on TV, print, radio. You take the essential elements of that campaign, boil it down to its essence, and make it bold in terms of color, in terms of statement. Seven words or less is a good yardstick there. Contrasting colors, bold fonts. You want to get the ultimate message out, the tagline, the core message of the strategy that you’re using to tell the story of a brand. That’s when outdoor advertising can be the most effective.
Examples of Effective OOH Campaigns
In some cases, you can use the platform iconically. Let’s take Snapchat, for example. We’re all reading about this company. They’ve just gone public. To up their presence in the marketplace, they’ve taken out billboards across the country and all that’s on the billboard, they’re not even saying anything, all that’s on the billboard is their iconic sunshine yellow color with a little ghost symbol in the middle of the billboard. It’s a repetitive reminder of Snapchat. People who recognize it will smile to themselves maybe even go online and start snapping. People who don’t recognize it are probably sitting there wondering what is that.
Drew McLellan: Right.
Betsy McLarney: Today I don’t think there are too many people who wouldn’t recognize it, their iconic symbol, but there probably are some people who don’t realize what that billboard is saying and they might go online to search for it. They might take a picture of it and then search what is this.
Drew McLellan: Or at least ask somebody else in the car or on the bus. Right?
Betsy McLarney: Absolutely.
Drew McLellan: Right.
Betsy McLarney: Google years ago, and they still do this, they recruit using billboard’s by putting an algorithm up on the billboard. That’s all it is, is an algorithm. They want you to solve the algorithm and if you do that then you get an interview at Google.
Drew McLellan: This is why I’ve never interviewed at Google right there. That’s probably what it is.
Betsy McLarney: I can give you another really great example.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. Please do.
Betsy McLarney: Twitter just won the Gold Lion Award at Con for their iconic campaign in 2016 where the only thing that was on the billboard was a compelling image and their hashtag and their logo. The hashtag was perfectly positioned next to whether it was a mother polar bear hugging her cub sitting on a piece of glacier ice in the middle of the sea with a hashtag next to it or during the campaign last year it was the eyes of the two candidates running for president. Again, it was just a hashtag next to the two candidates with their iconic logo on it. Without 140 characters being needed to make the point, that compelling creative was a mechanism to connect emotionally with an audience. It was really so powerful nothing else really needed to be said.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. It just goes to prove that creativity always wins the day and that regardless of the medium there are places to tell stories or to get other … it may not be the place to display a whole story, but it is a place to trigger or a story or get someone to continue a story.
Betsy McLarney: Absolutely.
Where to Find Betsy
Drew McLellan: Yeah. Interesting. So, Betsy, if folks want to learn more about, because I know you work a lot with agencies and a lot with brands, if folks want to learn more about EMC and how you interact with agencies and help support them as they sort of think through all this because this has gotten a lot more complicated. It used to be, again, you knew what DMA you wanted and you knew that there were some poster boards and you called the local outdoor company, but things have gotten a little more complicated with permits and street teams and digital aspects to all of this. If folks want to learn more about your company and how they might work with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Betsy McLarney: They can start by going to our website. I hear all the time that our website is very informative in terms of the multitude of media choices that are available. We clearly demonstrate how we’ve used outdoor advertising in a number of different ways in terms of our work. We also have separated out according to category traditional media buying, what constitutes that kind of media that you’d want to evaluate as well as trade show and experiential. We give a number of examples. Our website is the best place to begin to understand what we can bring to the table.
Of course, anybody that’s listening to us talk today if they wanted to reach out to me directly, I would encourage that as well. I would welcome a conversation on this topic with anyone of your listeners.
Drew McLellan: So the URL for the website is what?
Betsy McLarney: Emcoutdoor.com.
Drew McLellan: Okay.
Betsy McLarney: If any one of your listeners wanted to reach me directly, they could start by sending me an email at [email protected].
Drew McLellan: Perfect. Hey, this has been a great conversation. It did exactly what I wanted to do, which was to sort of open up our eyes to the possibilities and to recognize that this old dog has learned a lot of new tricks and we need to be thinking differently and bigger and broader about how we can use out of home for our clients. So thank you so much for sharing your expertise and helping us see this in a new light.
Betsy McLarney: Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed our conversation today, Drew.
Drew McLellan: I did, too. So thanks, Betsy. That wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. Hopefully, you found it incredibly helpful and inspiring and that you are ready to go out and do some great things.
I also want to talk to you about another tool that we’ve built that I would love to offer you. So as you’ve probably heard me preach, I believe a lot of agencies chase after the wrong new business prospects. I think we do that because we have not taken the time to clearly define who our sweet spot clients should be. The way you do that is by looking at your current clients and then developing out who your prospects should be based on your best current clients. So we’ve put together a sweet spot client filter … say that five times fast … that I would love for you to take advantage of and for you to use inside your shop to figure out exactly who you should be targeting for new business. To get access to that free tool, all you need to do is text AMI, for Agency Management Institute as you might imagine, AMI text that to 38470. Again, text AMI to 38470 and we will get the sweet spot client filter out to you right away.
Thanks again for listening. If I can be helpful, you can find me as always at [email protected]. Otherwise, I will touch base with you next week with another great episode. Talk to you soon.
That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to mid size agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you’ve always dreamed of owning.