Closing the gap between creative & media planning on DOOH

The investment in Digital Out of Home has brought new energy, vigour & creative expression to our high streets, malls & transport hubs. Yet the gap between creative executions, media planning & media owners is widening rather than narrowing.

It has become more evident as I travel through creative agencies & media owners, and was reinforced at LDSW/ DailyDooh BAFTA event, that many are facing similar frustrations at the disconnect & struggle to understand how to navigate all the stakeholders involved.

Having a career that spans as a media owner, with a global client & creating a media agency immersed in the creative process, I feel justified in having a view as to where those disconnects often lie. With the dynamic team at Cheil Media, we delivered 10 media 1sts, including 2 World 1sts, by immersing media planning into the creative process, & bringing creative into the conversation early. I still recall the amazing executions that sadly didn't make the cut, but may still the light of day.

The capabilities in creative for DOOH, are well known i.e, immediacy, flexibility, environment relevancy, audience relevancy, day part, video content distribution where allowed, etc. with automation & programmatic gathering pace.

However, the barriers in utilising all these possibilities usually originate in company processes and structures, with little knowledge shared with those at the drawing board, to enable a collaborative approach in using DOOH to its fullest capability to generate deeper audience engagement.

I appreciate many are making great steps in joining the dots, but delivering creative relevance at scale is not the norm & is still a long way off.

In the early days, DOOH interactive executions were designed as one-offs, creating content for further distribution on other platforms, & not in celebration of DOOH in its own right. Grand Visual was the king in facilitating these unique executions such as Pepsi Max, but were frequently hindered by escalating costs for scaling up, along with media owners caution & long lead times.

We then moved to dynamic, which was a fabulous step in broadcasting near real-time content, but even today it not seen as standard, as it should be.

The disconnect between creative & its final location starts early, with media often being briefed ahead of creative with little connection to planning teams, crushing any joined-up thinking or sharing of ideas, locations, network capabilities & the canvases DOOH can offer.

As a result, creative teams are often left with very minimal time to develop fresh ideas when presented with a bought media schedule in which they have no context. Being presented with a plan that needs assets delivered in 48 hours, means the creative juices are dampened into a pure production turnaround.

Undoubtedly creative teams love D/OOH, and there is an appetite to explore innovative possibilities, but few are entirely aware of the network capabilities and how different channels can ‘talk' to each other. Without detailed knowledge, they can't be expected to realise how far they can push their ideas and work with media owners to deliver.

Another obstacle in the mix is that many, not all, media owner sales teams don't have a grasp on what their own networks can do, or how those networks either compare or compliment other networks.

The beauty of DOOH is its potential for immediacy & therefore reactionary, to turn on relevancy by location, to move screens with the movement of audiences throughout the day, context through the day itself, the environment the screens are situated in, as well as news, weather, traffic & other external elements

This disconnect between clients, media planning, account planning and creatives can be a navigational disaster for those trying to optimise creative capabilities & break new ground.

Add in the plethora of data we now have access to, which shouldn't tighten or constrict reach, but embrace DOOH flexibilities values as a broadcast media. By merging data from Route, mobile, behaviour sources etc. gives a better understanding of the behaviour of those moving through our towns & cities. As a result, clients should be presented with executions that achieve audience relevancy, contextualisation, fun, entertainment & are memorable.

You need an experienced account team who can bring all parties together to drive the client cores messaging to its maximum, accompanied by fixated planners & creative teams, plus much more visibility & activity from media owners in the creative space. Again, there is ground being made here, but the detachment of DOOH investment & creative exploitation are a taxis ride apart...

You will always need a curious, open-minded client who looks at audience engagement first but the rewards in joining forces, briefing early & sharing ideas pre-media planning means everybody wins.