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3 innovative OOH ad activations and what you can learn from them

With $9.15 billion in US ad spending going to out of home (OOH) advertising this year (up 7% from last year) and an increasing portion of that spending going to digital (31.4% this year, rising to 40.4% by 2027), per our forecast, advertisers should be innovating on this somewhat traditional format. Here are three unique OOH ad activations.

1. EV charging stations supercharge OOH

With digital screens and a captive audience, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations make the perfect opportunity for digital OOH (DOOH) innovation.

  • This year, 5.4 million people in the US will drive electric cars, a figure that will more than double to 12.7 million by 2026, according to our forecast.
  • ChargePoint Holdings Inc., the US EV charging operator with the most stations in the country, is already doing business with Gas Station TV (GSTV) to bring ads to this market. GSTV’s recent partnership with TikTok could push those ads even further.

Why it matters: Since many of these EV charging stations are in retail centers, the connected screens offer a massive retail media opportunity. Retail media display advertising is rapidly growing, and in-store (or OOH) activations are still maturing. Keep an eye on EV charging stations and on partnerships that connect retailer data with untapped advertising opportunities.

2. Transportation ads that lash out

Maybelline ads across buses and trains in London went viral last weekend for their blink-and-you’ll-miss-it creativity. As the vehicles pass beneath a colossal 3D mascara wand, their eyelashes receive a gentle brush.

  • Ad dollars flowed back to transit in the US last year after a pandemic-induced slump.
  • New York City subway ads have gone programmatic, to the benefit of digitally native D2C brands like Hims and Casper.

Why it matters: Maybelline took the very traditional format of transportation ads and found an innovative way to turn DOOH advertising into organic viral posts, meaning the activation not only served London Underground riders but also social media consumers.

3. AI ad activations bite back

McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway have all created billboards written by ChatGPT that capitalize on the AI craze.

  • These are great examples of using AI hallucinations (generative AI’s propensity to confidently invent false information) as “a feature, not a bug,” a strategy presented by Tim Hwang, author of “Subprime Attention Crisis: Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet.”
  • The restaurants used ChatGPT to illustrate just how strong their brand identities are, as in the case of Subway’s billboard comparing McDonald’s and Burger King’s burgers with the iconic footlong.

Why it matters: These traditional OOH ads didn’t need expensive tech to innovate on a classic format. They were able to leverage ChatGPT’s free, buzzy tech to emphasize brand identity. And like Maybelline’s OOH campaign, the billboards resulted in viral posts that turned the OOH ads into organic social marketing.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.

First Published on Jul 10, 2023