First published in Shots, have a read of what our Head of Tech and Innovation, Dino Burbidge, has to say on changing nature of the OOH category along with previous predictions around the likely Outdoor Lions winners.

How creatively successful do you think the last 12 months have been in Outdoor advertising?

Hugely. Creatives are really getting to grips with the new possibilities that technology is bringing to the party. It used to be about the creative execution and the location. With DOOH especially, the box of toys just exploded. There’s so much more to come as creatives and planners truly understand how to get the most out of the bog-standard, built-in tech, not just the special builds.

What pieces of Outdoor work have impressed you most and why?

CatsNotAds has to get a mention – replacing all the OOH media in London’s Clapham Common underground station with pictures of cats. It was a cynical stab at OOH and a celebration of how it can capture the public’s imagination.

Spotify’s data-inspired Thanks 2016, It’s Been Weird campaign showed how data could be the genesis of an idea.

The CatsNotAds takeover at Clapham Common station

How much of a positive impact has technology had on this category?

We’re only just scratching the surface of the impact of technology. It’s not just the screen itself, it’s how we use other devices like mobiles, cameras or vehicles in conjunction with screens too. We’re seeing campaigns that can recognise cars and display targeted messages; print posters being augmented with light projections; technology being used to help decide what creative gets shown based on the audience; fledgeling attempts to use in-store purchase data to attribute sales to more ambient media, like outdoor. All the tech is out there already, it’s just a case of knowing how to use it in creative ways.

Screen tech is also making an impact. It’s transforming Britain’s most iconic outdoor location, the Piccadilly Circus lights, by replacing the patchwork of panels with one giant, curved creative canvas.

Outdoor is becoming a real magnet for innovation and it’s attracting bright, curious minds from outside the industry. Put it this way, at a recent outdoor conference, I saw someone else wearing jeans!


Spotify’s Thanks 2016, It’s Been Weird campaign

Where do you think this category is heading?

I’d love to see three things. First, a better industry process where creatives, media owners and planners work from the start to unleash the best potential for the new generation of screens. It’s happening, but only in pockets, and those are the campaigns that end up at awards ceremonies.

Secondly, the “Misunderstood Middle” as I call them – the ad formats that are internet connected and have huge potential, but just display basic content – will start to be used effectively to get tangible, KPI-needle-moving results.

Finally, reporting and attribution. The ‘opportunity to see’ metric is unreliable and technology is starting to give a much more accurate metric of the realistic chances of someone actually seeing a billboard. When companies like Oracle and Snapchat are starting to share in-store data to help attribute real sales to advertising on social platforms, it’s only a matter of time before outdoor takes advantage of this too.

What, for you, is the most exciting part of working in advertising at the moment?

One word: potential. On one side, we have a talented, knowledgeable, resourceful and hugely creative advertising industry that’s made up of brilliant storytellers in desperate need of new tech platforms to expand their creative palette. On the other, we have a wealth of tech companies and platforms that are brilliant innovators in desperate need of storytellers to bring their products to life. It’s like a summer storm brewing. It’s coming…

What’s been your favourite campaign of any category from the last year?

There are some definite contenders for the top spot. Although the commercial involvement from Morton Salt may not be immediately obvious, OK Go’s One Moment slo-mo video is spectacular – and 19 million views can’t be wrong. Regardless of whether I agree with it or not, the Vote Leave campaign’s use of deep behavioural science to win the Brexit vote was as sinister as it was clinically effective. The final runner-up would be the Change4Life Sugar Smart app that revealed just how much sugar is in everyday foods.

Will you be attending Cannes 2017?

I’ll be speaking this year! I’m passionate about the neuroscience of creativity. What practical (and some really not so practical) things can we do to be more creative? Don’t forget to bring your foil hats!