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The 5 biggest creative trends in out-of-home advertising


By Dani Gibson | Senior Writer

December 13, 2022 | 9 min read

Judges from The Drum Awards for Out of Home talk us through the common themes that emerged from this year’s entries.


Reviewing the biggest creative trends in out of home in 2022

Last week, at The Drum Awards for Out of Home 2022, Tesco’s Ramadan billboard took the Grand Prix while the Chair Award went to the Big Issue for its ‘I’m Here’ geolocation tech.

We caught up with some of the jurors who awarded those prizes to quiz them about the quality of this year’s entries and ask them what trends they saw emerge from the best work.

Here’s what they had they had to say...

‘Traditional OOH is not dead’

Jonathan Emmins, founder and global chief executive officer, Amplify: “Through judging, what became clear was that the more traditional use of OOH still has a key role in driving heavily targeted awareness, often acting as the glue that brings broader marketing campaigns together.

“The pioneering campaigns that stand out lean into big-idea thinking and innovation as much as craft and cultural insights. In the best examples of innovation and disruptive media, OOH has been elevated from the best supporting actor to the lead star role within the mix, often gaining as many – if not more – eyeballs to a secondary audience through the content created and earned media.

The ‘Most Talked About’ category stood out to me as you have to consider that audiences often don’t see a campaign in its entirety or distinguish between channels or sometimes even individual campaigns. A wonderfully integrated campaign becomes soundbites or episodes in a bigger narrative. But with a powerful campaign, even if the target audience only sees one simple targeted billboard, through the power of craft and copy it is likely to land and resonate with them. But equally, as the campaign unfolds through seeing consequent iterations in OOH, print, film or earned, the whole becomes more than the sum of the parts.”

‘Budgets hold no prisoners’

Helen Miall, chief marketing officer, VIOOH: “This year’s awards provided a unique opportunity to see how brands and agencies are using OOH to support campaign objectives at all levels of the branding-response funnel. It was clear that innovation and pushing the boundaries can happen at any brand, irrespective of the campaign budget, or whether they are a small, niche brand with a lot of heritage or a new challenger into a traditional vertical.

“The use of data in OOH continues to increase and it is encouraging to see how brands are using data across channels to inform, execute and optimize the impact of their strategy, messaging and media plan – although there was scope to push further to maximize the overall impact of a campaign.

“Another trend was around sustainability. As a one-to-many channel, OOH competes favorably on carbon consumption per impression versus both traditional media such as print, and individual screen-based media such as online video and display. In the future, more OOH campaigns will include some element of sustainability in their strategy, execution and/or messaging, as this topic is likely to continue to focus on the current energy crisis globally. To this end, brands should be encouraged to keep in mind ’progression’ over ’perfection’.

‘Imagination and tech play an important role in change’

Grant McKenzie, creative development marketing manager, Coca-Cola: “It was clear from judging these awards that OOH is far from a traditional and out-of-date medium, but is, in fact, an ever-evolving and highly valuable channel that, when utilized correctly, can be truly disruptive and engaging.

“During this year’s panel, I had the opportunity to see a range of brilliant ideas turned into smart executions, from an immersive Halloween campaign that drew people in through clever use of projection mapping and soundscapes to an activation that used geo-location to drive human connection with people who depend on interaction for their livelihood – all at a time that we as a society were keeping our distance, ultimately making invisible people visible once again.

“Regardless of whether brands are trying to build an association with a cultural milestone or drive impact and value at a human level, what became apparent is that by marrying imagination and technology, creativity can act as a true catalyst for change.

“A robust strategy with authentic storytelling coupled with a channel-first approach to execution is always at the heart of standout creative, but what was a particularly strong takeaway from these awards was that rather than technology undermining OOH, the two are gradually becoming synonymous.”

‘Innovation leads the party’

Mo Moubayed, co-founder and co-chief executive officer, Veridooh: “This year was an exciting time to judge the Awards because of the level of creativity we are seeing at the moment. OOH had a quiet two years during the pandemic, so it’s great to see it bounce back with so much vibrancy.

“I think the top trend across all categories was innovation. More specifically, this year was the year we saw new technologies such as 3D billboards and AR (considered a novelty not too long ago) really mature. This is no surprise as media owners have invested to make these innovations available to brands and marketers have really taken advantage of this.

“There were a number of outstanding campaigns that could be categorized as being interactive, but describing them as that would not do them justice. We saw campaigns that seamlessly created connections that were more than just for novelty’s sake. Instead, they added real value to people and cities. It is a true testament to what can be achieved when there is out-of-the-box thinking, a committed advertiser and flawless execution.

“I would have loved to see more entries in the Sustainability category. OOH practitioners are leaders in sustainability, so we have a real opportunity to show the wider industry that the sector is great for the environment. I can think of three to four campaigns this year that would have been a perfect fit for this category.”

‘The digital world is driving success in OOH’

Jim Wilson, chief executive officer, Talon Outdoor America: “Throughout 2022, we witnessed how OOH has served as a blank canvas with endless creative possibilities for brands to get their messages in front of a highly engaged audience as they move through their daily journey.

“Beyond the use of OOH for driving brand awareness, we’re seeing more brands take advantage of data-driven capabilities for performance marketing to deliver more precise and targeted campaigns. Additionally, we’re seeing growing use of programmatic OOH. This is especially valuable for advertisers as they need the agility and creative flexibility to shift spending and optimize campaigns in our fast-changing world.

“Furthermore, digital advancements and emerging technologies like AI, AR, VR, and 3D are driving exponential success for the OOH medium. Brands are taking advantage of these technologies to create and execute contextual and cutting-edge immersive and experiential campaigns to captivate audiences, create viral moments and bring their brand messages to life in the physical world.

“We’re just at the beginning of what new data and technology capabilities can really do for OOH to engage consumers with the right message at the right time and in the right place – and drive proof of performance for brands.”

From the wow factor of 3D billboards to ads that grab people at literally the right time and place, innovation in out-of-home is soaring. Find out more in our latest Deep Dive.

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