Previous slide
Next slide
Previous slide
Next slide

How to improve campaign outcomes through creative effectiveness

Trade Marketing Specialist

JC Decaux Africa

Howard Lonstein

Howard Lonstein

29 May . 6 min read . Opinion

In the fast-moving and ever-evolving world of advertising, one of the most important elements to the success of any marketing campaign is the creative. A recent study by Kantar and WARC affirmed that creative and effective ads generate more than four times as much profit.

The complex media mix is placing tremendous pressure on marketers and agencies to develop and tailor creative that leverages the salient characteristics of each media channel. The challenge is that all too often, creative is recycled and repurposed without considering the platform, channel objective and how the creative impacts the campaign’s effectiveness.

Outdoor offers a unique canvas for creativity with which to tell brand stories in the public space. A study by MarketingSherpa showed that 69% of people trust Out of Home media when it comes to making purchasing decisions. To grow spend and demonstrate value with the outdoor advertising space, greater emphasis and consideration needs to be placed on the creative. To realise such creative excellence requires creative and media agencies’ purposeful consideration of the media channel, longer planning and involvement of media owners in the creative process.

The following are some focal points that can help bridge the gap and improve the creative effectiveness in the out-of-home industry.

1. Design With Purpose

The most important element for campaign success is custom designing creative for out-of-home. The creative process needs to be guided and informed by understanding the role and objective outdoor will play in the mix, supported by rich consumer insights, relating to mobility, location insight, advertising format, psychographics and shopping habits to name a few. The brand and campaign assets required and which aspects to focus on by the creative team need to be led by the desired outcomes. For example, if the goal is extending TV campaign recall, the creative can highlight a key visual or the end frame from the commercial or if the aim is to promote online engagement, the creative can feature a striking visceral visual that encourages social sharing and search.

(Credit: JC Decaux Africa)

2. Use Emotive Creative to Capture Attention

Outdoor advertising is consumed in the real world across a range of environments such as airports, malls, taxi ranks, highways and the like.

The placement of the ad impacts diverse areas relating to the composition of the design and layout such as the message and visual that will resonate with the target market, in addition to weighting, colour contrast, balance and CTA placement. A study by JCDecaux demonstrated that consumers who viewed a contextually relevant ad with emotive creative were found to have a 46% stronger emotional response than those who viewed a non-creative ad. This emotional connection can lead to greater brand loyalty and long-term engagement. By considering the contextual relevance of the environment and setting in which the ad is consumed, and creating different versions of the creative, there is a greater likelihood that the creative will draw attention, resonate with the target market and influence campaign performance.

3. It’s About the Consumer, Entertain Them, Inform Them, Surprise Them

Personalisation is playing an ever-greater role in media driven by shifting consumer habits and expectations from brands and outdoor is no different. Currently, most campaigns use a single creative message across all formats and environments, without consideration of local audience insights, such as cultural context, language or the role the out-of-home plays in the consumer journey. As a one-to-many media, personalisation on traditional out of home can be complex, however, using data it can be achieved by geolocation targeting campaigns to narrowly focus on a specific consumer subset. To leverage this strategy, agencies will require multiple creatives which are contextually relevant to the location and audience, adapting different elements of the creative to appeal to and resonate with a specific group of consumer segments or personas. According to a study by JCDecaux, location-specific OOH ads have a 15% higher recall rate than non-location-specific ads. The creative can be tailored to deliver a unique message or offer that resonates and appeals to specific consumer groups, linked to individual preferences, needs and interests. Digital out-of-home provides an additional dynamic layer to personalise content throughout the campaign display period, based on a range of events, such as shopping times, special offers or the scope of vehicles makes on the road.

4. Use Technology Inform Creative Optimisation
As demand for Out of Home grows, it opens new approaches to the creative application and dynamic ad-serving capabilities offered by the media channel. To enhance the effectiveness and impact of OOH campaigns, advertisers can apply Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) technology, which allows users to build multiple iterations of an ad using the same base creatives while tailoring the message and visual to different audiences, locations, settings and events. DCO extends the time required in the planning phase of the campaign to guide which base line visuals and copy to use, and which dynamic information to incorporate, for the system to establish playout rules or conditions, prior to them being delivered. Through the application of technology and data advertisers can deliver more personalised, contextually relevant and target ad content, in a fluid and time-sensitive way.

Dynamic Creative Optimisation offers advertisers a broad range of benefits, which traditionally were reserved for online media channels. Some of the benefits include improved personalisation, real-time optimisation of ad creative and campaign playout, delivering contextual relevance, improved audience targeting, A/B creative testing and enhanced brand experience. These advantages contribute to more impactful campaigns and engaging campaigns and ultimately better ROI.

(Credit: JC Decaux Africa)

5. Perfection is a Work in Progress, Success lies in Testing
The mantra with creative effectiveness is to continually test and iterate, to learn which aspects of the design and message resonate with different consumer segments. There are a few ways this can be applied in outdoor advertising. At JC Decaux we use an AI tool called Optix which is applied in pre- and post-campaign to test and evaluate which aspects of the creative grab the consumers’ attention, in which the sequence are key areas of the creative viewed, and how the creative is consumed. Another way to assist with creative optimisation is to run online A/B tests with different pre-qualified control groups to evaluate which versions or aspects of the creative resonate and appeal to different audiences. It’s essential to use data to inform the creative for OOH advertising, as these factors impact and influence the campaign’s effectiveness. OOH is known to have longer production lead times compared with online media. Pre-testing aims to reduce risk and improve campaign performance.

6. Leave lasting impressions through Innovation & Creativity

(Credit: JC Decaux Africa)

Outdoor adverting offers a unique platform to deliver innovation and creativity through custom builds that offer those wow shareable moments for consumers to engage with. 81% of smartphone owners notice some form of outdoor advertising in an average week. Providing consumers with unique and unexpected visual messaging, allows OOH to deliver content which bridges the gap between the outdoor and social, extending the organic campaign reach and brand saliency. Creativity is not limited to just the visuals or messaging of the campaign but extends to the use of technology and innovative techniques. The use of interactive billboards, augmented reality, and other cutting-edge technologies can create a more engaging and memorable experience for consumers, helping to drive greater brand awareness and loyalty.

The industry has seen several anamorphic campaigns from a range of big brands, such as Nike, Amazon Prime, Louis Vuitton and Hunydai, that have been shared millions of times around the world via social media, taking the campaign far beyond a single site or location. Another great example was an innovative billboard by Coca-Cola at Times Square, which displayed bubbles that would rise with the sound of a fizzing Coke. The campaign generated significant buzz on social media, with over 350 million impressions, helping to boost brand awareness and engagement. Custom builds and creative executions are designed to highlight specific brand and campaign messages, requiring the involvement of different teams to ensure brand stories deliver impact and drive consumer action.

To deliver award-winning campaigns and creative that deliver results, it is paramount to invest more time and a greater emphasis in the pre-campaign planning window. An essential requirement for these elements to materialise is improved collaboration and integration between the creative and media agencies with media owners. Through the application of rich data and continual testing in the design process, various iterations of the creative can be formulated, to help advertisers deliver campaigns that leave lasting impressions and make meaningful connections between brands and consumers in the real world.

In summary, creating memorable, impactful and effective outdoor advertising, requires creative which is custom designed for the media channel. By leveraging creative strategies and techniques advertisers can create memorable and effective campaigns that resonate with consumers, deliver value and ultimately help meet the campaign goals and business outcomes. 

Howard Lonstein, Trade Marketing Specialist at JCDecaux Africa, is a marketing, communication and media specialist, having worked for several CPG multinationals where he launched a host of brands into the SA market. He has vast experience in outdoor advertising having worked across the continent, improving the media profile through research, insights and improved accountably.

He played a pivotal role in the launch of the out-of-home currency, ROAD, and continues to work with various industry bodies to help grow spend and improve the media profile.