Billboards and advertisements in outdoor settings are coming of age. A new generation of digital out-of-home (OOH) advertising solution providers use data and cutting-edge technology to update ad messaging in real time. These providers also measure and analyze meaningful metrics ranging from app downloads to in-store foot traffic.

These advanced capabilities are attracting advertisers’ attention, with eMarketer predicting that digital OOH spending will increase by nearly 20 percent in 2021. But not all entrepreneurs are aware of how the category has changed--or how brands across sectors can benefit from digital OOH’s evolution. Providers like Firefly, the street-level digital media network that connects audiences with dynamic media on taxis and rideshare vehicles, are delivering impressive results. 

Combine digital and real-life benefits 

Today’s consumers are inundated with digital ads, which can lead to “banner blindness”--a phenomenon in which people stop noticing advertising. Digital OOH is “high impact visual advertising that consumers see as they’re out there living their lives,” says Firefly Chief Revenue Officer Cecilia Lang. 

Unlike other forms of digital advertising, consumers can’t miss it. But Firefly’s approach is particularly unobtrusive, Lang says. The street-media platform includes proprietary screens on taxis and shared vehicles that deliver dynamic content via location-based, GPS-enabled triggers. Advertisers can benefit from the targeting and measurement efficiencies they would expect from digital advertising, but because the vehicles are already woven into the fabric of people’s lives, the ads don’t feel intrusive.

Deliver highly relevant messaging

Lang likens Firefly screens to giant mobile devices on top of vehicles. Since the screens are GPS-enabled, businesses can update ad images and messaging based on precise locations and audiences, as well as other triggers, including time of day, day of the week, and weather.

To promote its flagship store in New York City, Puma served Firefly ads that updated in real time to reveal the distance from the store.

Drive measurable results

Historically, OOH was a tactic for raising brand awareness, which can be hard to measure. Now, businesses can use digital OOH to drive app downloads, website clicks, in-store visits, and sales-;measuring, and improving, campaign performance every step of the way.

Firefly’s Street.IQ was the first digital OOH platform to use live data to optimize advertising campaigns weekly. By continually monitoring performance, the team can make smart suggestions for improvement. For example, Firefly data revealed that best practices for its client, Dunkin’, included advertising during “coffee hour”--2 p.m. to 6 p.m.--and updating imagery based on the weather, such as showing an iced coffee on a hot summer day.  

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“Because of all these measurement capabilities and, in the case of Firefly, our ability to take it a step further and optimize, advertisers can really do that full funnel of driving a brand message to actually driving a call to action,” Lang explains.

Target rivals’ customers

“Conquesting” is an advertising strategy in which a company tries to appeal to a competitive business’s customers or prospects. Hyundai used this approach to promote the Hyundai Tucson. Firefly knew when the ads were run on non-Hyundai dealerships, so they could point out the features the vehicle lacks and why buying a Hyundai would be better. They even updated the text to Spanish when the taxi or vehicle entered a Spanish-speaking neighborhood.

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Make a big impression

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands often use digital OOH to reach audiences in key regions, or even particular neighborhoods, says Lang, noting that Firefly has massive reach in the country’s biggest cities. When audience members in those areas see multiple ads, small businesses may seem to have a big presence. 

What was once impossible in the world of out-of-home advertising is now a reality. For small businesses, digital OOH is a way to transform cities from a blank canvas to a targeted campaign that delivers relevant messaging and makes a measurable impact. 

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