How Technology Has Pushed Innovation in Offline Advertising
The world of offline advertising is growing year over year. Despite popular belief, it is not a dying medium, but rather one that sees constant growth, alongside innovative new solutions to make it even more attractive to businesses of all sizes.
Just in the past decade, thousands of displays around the United States were converted from static to digital thus increasing both potential ad spend as well potential ad opportunity. The advertising space owners capitalized on the capability of adding video variations on the advertising space, while many advertisers were able to enter the offline advertising marketplace because of increased affordability. Rather than having to close a campaign on a static advertising space for $50,000/mo., suddenly they were able to take just a 30 second video variation on that space and their cost was cut to just $5,000/mo.
To some of the large spenders in the industry like Coca Cola, Proctor & Gamble and similar, these savings add up and make a huge difference in their overall ad spend. Many offline advertising operators are still yet to catch on to this relatively new wave of innovation, and yet there are an increasing amount of new solutions being released in the outdoor advertising space that are potential game-changers.
One of the difficulties that both operators and advertisers have with offline advertising is the lack of capability to perform data tracking. In fact, because it is difficult to track those that are influenced by outdoor advertising campaigns, many advertisers are reluctant to test outdoor advertising as a potential marketing medium, claiming that without the ability to see a direct return on investment, it is better to invest in other advertising mediums.
Likewise, operators are also challenged because they are required to find new creative ways of showing their direct clients the potential influence of their offline advertising campaign without having exact numbers to back up their sales pitch.
Just recently, researchers from Oska university, the Excellence Cluster at Saarland University and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, released a next-gen algorithm based on new development methods, which are intended to estimate eye gaze direction. To put it simply, they’ve created a way to more simply track where, when and how people are viewing things based on their eye movements in real time.
Such a groundbreaking technology can have extreme implications on the outdoor advertising industry. As stated by Andreas Bulling, who leads the independent research group “Perceptual User Interfaces” at the Excellence Cluster at Saarland University and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, “Until now, if you were to hang an advertising poster in the pedestrian zone and wanted to know how many people actually looked at it, you would not have had a chance”.
Bulling is implying that given the next generation algorithm that him and his team have built, both advertisers and operators alike would have the capability to actually know how many people looked at the advertising poster, and ultimately determine if it reached their exposure goals which could be set at the beginning of the campaign. Although one’s eye gaze direction and viewing of an advertising poster does not necessarily mean that the viewer has performed some desired action, it does mean that the advertising poster can be considered an additional influence of the user’s overall behavior and interaction with the brand.
Bulling did note that in order for this new technology to be perfected, it could take some time, due to the machine learning requirements of such a system to provide high level accuracy. Nonetheless, this new innovation is fascinating as it could bring a huge new wave of operators and advertisers to the outdoor advertising marketplace that were once concerned about the lack of data to support campaign creation.
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