In an interview with Marketing Media Review, Victoria Radchenko, head of sales for LED screens at the advertising holding Megapolis, discussed the advantages of digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH), the challenges she addresses, and current trends relevant to Ukraine.
How long have you been working in the advertising business, specifically in outdoor advertising?
It was in 2019 when I entered the advertising industry, specifically in outdoor advertising. At that time, the OOH advertising market looked different. Unfortunately, a few months later, the pandemic began, and the market started to rapidly change.
When did you start working with DOOH, and was it easy to enter this new segment? What were the initial digital formats introduced?
Megapolis began systematic work in the field of digital outdoor advertising in February 2020. We immediately focused on the most challenging, interesting, and effective format - media facades. So, our first mediums were LED screens on building walls.
How did clients react? What were the prejudices, and how did you overcome them?
Advertisers, both existing clients and potential ones, showed significant interest in the new format. At that time, many brands had experience placing ads on billboards, understood the advantages of this format, and were expecting a digital version. For us, media facades became a new direction and were intriguing at every stage, from choosing locations for advertising tools to negotiations with clients.
Can you comment on how much digital OOH carriers were needed in the Ukrainian advertising market before widespread adoption and what the situation is now?
Digital carriers are a new format of brand interaction with the audience, attracting attention with large bright images, animations, and videos. Spectacle, dynamism, and often interactivity are defining features of this format.
Undoubtedly, DOOH advertising is needed and desired in the Ukrainian market. The world has been transitioning from traditional outdoor advertising to digital carriers for a long time. Numerous studies on the effectiveness of DOOH as an independent channel and as part of cross-media campaigns have been conducted in different countries. The results of some of these studies are pleasantly surprising and downright inspiring.
For example, the Nielsen study commissioned by the American OOH Advertising Association indicates that DOOH ensures a high level of consumer awareness, engages them, and prompts action. Specifically, among those who noticed digital billboards:
- 52% paid attention to navigation plots leading to stores, restaurants, company offices, etc.
- 57% visited the advertiser's establishment immediately after viewing the ad
- 93% of those who visited the advertiser's establishment made a purchase
- 52% reacted to the advertising plot by taking action on their smartphone (search query, website visit, interaction with brand content on social media)
The feedback we receive from clients after the end of placements mostly indicates that the channel successfully addresses the tasks set by brand marketers.
What challenges do you most often have to face? Do you prepare preventive measures for blackouts and other consequences of war?
In the context of DOOH, all difficulties are somehow related to the large-scale Russian invasion. In October of last year, when planned and unplanned power outages started in Kyiv - where the majority of digital carriers are located - we couldn't anticipate when we would be able to fully restore the operation of LED screens. During the new stage of the war, business in Ukraine did not stop; it cannot afford such a luxury.
Certainly, it has changed and adapted to the circumstances. But everyone understands that work needs to be done. Production, service, sales - it's challenging without advertising. Therefore, we did not stop and continued working. We had two goals at that time: saving electricity and promoting goods and services in the market. Digital carriers, instead of working for 15 hours, started working half as much - we switched them to a 9-hour schedule. All clients understood this situation.
Last year, we learned to work during blackouts using alternative power sources. Our technical specialists searched for and found new ways to continue the operation of digital carriers. Now we have done everything in our power to enter the winter period as prepared as possible for any contingencies. Where it was possible to provide carriers with backup power, we used it. Hopefully, this year will be easier.
Can you provide an interesting example of a DOOH campaign from your own experience?
For a well-known foreign cosmetic brand, we conducted an advertising campaign on all our DOOH carriers. Then, using drone-shot video materials, we prepared a report and sent it to the company's headquarters in Italy. As a result, after reviewing the report, the company booked an extensive targeted program for the next year.
There was also an interesting experience with a well-known sports brand that used only traditional outdoor advertising in its marketing communications and never used digital. We managed to convince their marketing department to try DOOH. For the purity of the experiment, we agreed that the product advertised in digital outdoor advertising would not be present in other media. On the fifth day of the campaign, the brand representative asked us to suspend the display - the warehouse stocks of the relevant product had run out. For the brand's marketing team, this was unexpected, and we once again proved (and convinced the client) of the effectiveness of DOOH advertising.
What is the most significant difference, from the advertiser's perspective, between digital out-of-home advertising and traditional advertising?
There are many differences, and the key ones include:
- Audience Segmentation: Distributing communication to different audiences, even within the same location. Advertisers can use various brand clips targeted at different audience groups.
- Use of Triggers: The display of specific content is influenced by circumstances or events. Certain weather conditions, pollen concentration in the air, time of day, traffic conditions, sports match scores, inventory levels of advertised products, etc., can act as triggers.
- Flexibility: Swift adaptation to changing conditions, enabling the operational change of advertising content.
- Absence of Financial and Time Costs for Posters or Banners: No need for production and placement costs associated with traditional printed materials.
- Eco-friendly Trend: Focus on environmental conservation, eliminating the need for production (and later disposal) of printed materials. International and, recently, local brands pay increasing attention to this aspect of marketing communication.
For addressing which communication tasks are media facades well-suited?
Digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) is suitable for addressing any communication tasks, regardless of where they lie on the "brand building — sales activation" spectrum. Whether introducing new products and services to the market, increasing brand awareness, announcing events, creating excitement around limited-time marketing campaigns (countdown stories), or strengthening employer branding, DOOH offers various solutions.
Over the past three years, we have accumulated experience working with clients from almost all categories. The number of clients in each category is growing, typically starting with a leader or a contender for leadership, and others follow suit after some time.
What is the optimal duration for content on media facades? Does it differ from other DOOH formats?
Typically, the optimal duration for a clip is 10 seconds. However, technically, a clip can be longer—20 or 30 seconds. The question is about the practicality of such exposure time considering the typical duration of outdoor advertising contact. Our experience, as well as global trends, indicates that, in the majority of cases, 10 seconds is sufficient to convey the message effectively.
What is the most common misconception among potential advertisers about media facades?
One prevalent misconception is that viewers won't have time to watch a 10-second clip. In reality, this time is entirely sufficient to create an impression, convey a message, or inform. DOOH relies on creative content developed with the medium's specificity in mind, rather than adhering to the duration of a television commercial. Concise formulations, legible fonts, contrasting colors, and the consistent presence of brand elements define the effectiveness of DOOH advertising.
Regarding visibility, all our media facades are located in areas with intensive traffic flow and where this flow often stops at traffic lights. We meticulously select new locations, considering traffic volume, vehicle speed, pedestrian numbers, the likelihood of traffic jams, height of installation, visibility zone, proximity to office centers and shopping malls—all for the sake of maximizing the OTS (opportunity to see) metric.
Which categories of advertisers most actively utilize media facades? To which product categories should more attention be directed?
We have experience working with a wide range of advertiser categories using DOOH. It's challenging to single out a specific category as the most active, as the variety of media facades in an advertising campaign mostly depends on the client's objectives. Advertising campaigns on media facades are a tool that can enhance the effectiveness of marketing communication for various categories.
A few years ago, pseudo-three-dimensional images on corner screens became a prominent trend in DOOH. What will be the next major trend?
In Ukraine, the trend of 3D images is observed not only on corner screens but also on flat ones. Media facades are occasionally used not only as a means of coverage but also as an initial point for communication on social media or as an informational trigger for the media.
What is needed to create a pseudo-three-dimensional narrative? What technical specifications should a media facade have to play a 3D clip?
Primarily, individuals with expertise in this technology are required. The role of a motion designer specializing in 3D is crucial. In our company, we have highly qualified professionals in this field, and we implement such projects in-house. We are actively advancing in this direction, and soon we will introduce a new format for placing clips on media facades—stay tuned for updates!
What does the national OOH advertising industry need for the further development of algorithmic sales?
In broad strokes, reaching an agreement on the implementation of algorithmic sales requires consensus on the following aspects:
- Software solutions
- Agreement among market operators
- Industry measurement system
- Data sources
- Justification of pricing (not cheaper but at a level to secure investments)
- An auditor to verify impressions.
Thank you for this insightful conversation about the current state of digital out-of-home advertising! We wish you and the entire out-of-home marketing industry stability, and for brands utilizing your services, increased recognition and a larger share of consumers' wallets!