18th September 2013 was a big day for Out-of-Home media in the UK. Outdoor Works, an industry wide conference was held at the British Museum, ran by the Outdoor Media Centre and Marketing Week. Rapport staff members, clients and partner agencies were in attendance, but we felt that there would be nobody better placed to write a blog on the event than the CEO of the Outdoor Media Centre, Mike Baker. Read his summary, of what was widely regarded as a hugely successful and interesting event, here.
370 attendees gathered at the British Museum for Outdoor Works on September 18, the inaugural conference of that name. We selected Marketing Week as the event partner for their expertise in bringing the client perspective. They certainly helped drive client attendance, with 78 relevant spending clients as well as some 70 agency planners attending.
As a bit of a departure from previous conferences, we fielded industry and non-industry speakers rather than outdoor insiders and sales people. I think this gave us a wider viewpoint and more objectivity, as well as a range of insights into the world, under five main headings.
The first of these, Outdoor Connects, saw information visualisation guru David McCandless kicking off the proceedings with an illuminating presentation about perspective when handling big data sets. This theme was picked up by Justin Gibbons who gave some ideas about the new Route research and its ability to change the quality of targeting which outdoor now offers, with a commensurate improvement to be expected in effectiveness and planning precision.
The next thematic session was Outdoor Influences. For this we were privileged to have the charismatic Richard Reed, co-founder of smoothie maker innocent, who talked up outdoor and its role in helping him build his business. More recently he had curated the Art Everywhere campaign on a staggering 22,000 outdoor faces, democratising art and bringing it to the streets, with great effect. Verica Djurdjevic, MD of PHD Media, credited the outdoor industry with transforming the urban landscape and investing in a better presentational platform for brand messages. Verica expounded on outdoor’s ability to influence through context, and gave dozens of examples of planning in different environments, times, modes and social groups, by brands as diverse as Paddy Power, Tropicana and Dove.
There followed a session called Outdoor Activates, which perhaps more than any other was core to the proposition Outdoor Works. Marie Oldham, chief strategy officer at Havas Media, focussed on IPA Effectiveness awards, the 2013 Cannes Lions and the work of Les Binet and Peter Field to provide a compelling case for the use of outdoor, and outdoor’s ability to drive effective ROI. TV and outdoor were shown to be the strongest media in driving branding effects.
After the break, which featured a gallery of NFC, augmented reality, touchscreen and other technologies, we were back in the room with Wired editor David Rowan who set out the backdrop of change against which technical developments are taking place, influencing our world and the world of media. These range from tablet penetration to wearable devices and contactless payments. MediaCom partner and head of digital Stefan Bardega completed the Outdoor Amplifies session with his views on the growing interface between outdoor and digital – in particular how outdoor can act as a gateway to engage customers and draw them into the digital experience.
Our final session, Outdoor Inspires, featured Tim Spencer from Truth Research, who had very recently completed a piece of semiotic analysis entitled Sunlight and Seduction. This studies the role of visual communications and branding in our constructed environments. Looking at poster art in various forms, Tim described how people move through those outdoor environments, taking in brand messages in ways that are unique to our medium. He described Outdoor as vitamin D – a necessary quality for maintaining the vibrant health of brands. Keep them out in the light, Tim said, or they’ll wither from sight and lose their vital spark.
Feedback on the event has been very positive, with high ratings for the individual sessions and very good qualitative comment on the usefulness of the day. Looks like we’ll be doing this again!