I still remember my first taste of 4D. The year is 2008, I’m at The Royal Air Force Museum, and an immersive 4D experience gave me a firsthand taste of what it would be like to fly one of the Red Arrows. All aided, of course, by seat vibrations, impeccable (for that time) graphics and a sense of wonderment. 

‘Experiential’, I suppose – before I’d experienced it in a work capacity. Fast forward to 2010, and the first 3D TV goes on sale in the UK. Unfortunately, it seemed folks didn’t fancy donning the 3D glasses from home, and this never really took off. But the search for alternative viewing perspectives was long from over. In recent years, VR/AR headsets have transported us to a completely different universe (or brought that universe into ours). These gadgets are fun, sure, but their price points are exclusive, so these technologies don’t offer marketeers a reliable home for their content. So, what does, then? 

Following a short hiatus in 2020, when people literally weren’t ever ‘out-of-home', the return to commuting, shopping and travelling has transformed DOOH sites to gold dust. 

DOOH advertising. Following a short hiatus in 2020, when people literally weren’t ever ‘out-of-home', the return to commuting, shopping and travelling has transformed DOOH sites to gold dust. 

I attended 180 The Strand’s immersive exhibition earlier this year and it gave great insight into how digital displays can be creatively engaging in the advertising landscape. Digital screens are, after all, covering the cities, from the tallest tower blocks to the lowest tube stations. I’ve recently had the pleasure of working on one of these projects myself, for JD Sports on the Piccadilly Lights. I like to think of it as an attraction, not just an advertisement- an immersive screen that pushes the boundaries of DeepScreen™ tech. That’s what OOH does – it blends the line between virtual and reality. 

As a studio, we’ve been lucky enough to see our work up in lights at that location on several occasions, but the thing about out-of-home, is that it gives brands GLOBAL power. 

Above: [L-R] Nike's Air Max Day, Women's Aid's Look At Me and Battersea Dogs Home's #LookingForYou.

Back in March this year, Nike released their first 3D billboard in Tokyo to mark ‘Air Max Day’.  The campaign gave passersby insight into the inspiration behind each shoe, pleasing existing fans and intriguing new ones through scale. 

Meanwhile, in Dubai, adidas’ Beyond The Surface campaign featured the world’s first swimmable billboard. 32% of women globally don’t feel comfortable swimming in public, but in the Middle East, that figure almost triples. The brand responded by asking women from the public to swim the billboard, with each swim projected live on the country’s largest digital display, alongside a print campaign in celebration of the sportswear giant’s exclusive swimwear campaign. And it worked – the campaign garnered a total reach of 295million and $1.35million in earned media. 

adidas’ Beyond The Surface campaign featured the world’s first swimmable billboard.

Back on UK soil, several other brands have used public displays for social good. 

Back in 2015, Women’s Aid’s Look At Me campaign used facial detection to deploy a powerful message. The display showed a bruised woman, but the more passersby noticed her, the more her bruises began to fade. The key message being that we can all help confront the issue of domestic violence, simply by not turning a blind eye. 

Battersea Dogs Home also deployed clever interactive techniques in their campaign #LookingForYou. The public was offered microchipped leaflets, and as they walked around the shopping centre, hidden sensors alerted all digital screens, with the same dog appearing wherever the leaflet holder went. The charity received 33% more traffic to its website as a result.

Above: Ignasi Monreal's work for Klarna.

DOOH doesn’t stop at billboards. 

We’re subconsciously exposed to targeted advertising when we’re getting a coffee, waiting for the bus, commuting – you name it. And, unlike targeted ads on social media, there’s no algorithmic filter to the ads we see. The two do work hand in hand, though. Research shows that consumers are 48% more likely to click on a mobile ad, after being exposed to the same ad via OOH or DOOH outputs first [according to research from Ocean Neuroscience]. A real-life algorithm indeed! 

Execution is only successful if the concept is strong.

Reebok has challenged the public to run past their Speed Cam at such a pace in order to win a pair of trainers. And Klarna’s Discover The Truth campaign, which we had the pleasure of animating, was an integrated campaign, featuring a mobile game, social content and painted murals by Artist, Ignasi Monreal on display in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. All of which drove brand engagement through interactivity.

So, what’s the future of DOOH? The truth is, it’s hard to say. Sure, ‘technology will progress’ - we all know that. But execution is only successful if the concept is strong. If you went to see the virtual ABBA Voyage concert recently, I’m sure you were blown away by what was achieved by combining a great idea with great scale. I, for one, look forward to seeing how brands will continue to break the interactive mould. 

If scale’s got anything to do with it, then honey, it may very well look like we’ve shrunk the kids.