OOH: The perfect contextual advertising medium | Clear Channel

OOH: The perfect contextual advertising medium

Out of Home (OOH) advertising is best known for its vast reach and creative innovation, but it’s also a highly flexible and effective contextual advertising medium. Contextual advertising is when brands use a context-first approach to dictate their advertising strategy and content.

By deploying nuanced, targeted messages that resonate with the current moment, brands can forge a more meaningful connection with their audiences. There’s science to back this up (we’ll get to that in a minute) but first, let’s take a closer look at contextual advertising.

What is contextual advertising?

Contextual advertising is a type of advertising that uses the wider context of a situation or action to inform ad content. Traditionally, contextual advertising has been associated with online marketing – for example, making ads on a website page relevant to the content of that specific page.

However, ad content can be tailored to audiences’ physical environments as well as their online behaviours. Contextual advertising can also mean product placement that seamlessly aligns with the show’s storyline, or even a brand sponsoring an event that’s relevant to their product. 

Contextual advertising works because it creates a connection between the audience and the message. When audiences are exposed to ads that are relevant to their current situation, they feel as if they are being spoken to directly. 

This added layer of personalisation encourages audiences to engage with adverts at much higher levels than normal. In the case of Out of Home advertising, contextually relevant content increases ad effectiveness by an average of 17%

Contextual advertising in Out of Home

The physical presence of OOH in the real world provides a unique advantage. It allows brands to deliver highly tailored messaging to audiences in the right place, at the right time, using contextual factors such as location, weather and cultural events. 

This is why OOH is the perfect contextual advertising medium. It intercepts customers’ physical journeys, integrating with their real-world experiences to drive consideration at key moments. 

Contextual programmatic advertising takes this one step further. Programmatic OOH platforms enable brands to continually deliver relevant adverts, even when the context is constantly changing. Advertisers can finely tune their messages based on real-time data, ensuring that they’re always optimised for the given moment. 

For example, a local coffee shop could use train station advertising to reach commuters on their way to work. The messaging could revolve around getting a morning caffeine boost, but when rush hour is over it returns to a more generic creative. 

If it’s a nice day with unexpectedly high temperatures, the content could be pre-programmed to then switch to a creative where the messaging is focused around grabbing a refreshing iced coffee. 

Advertising coffee in the morning can be thought of as using the ‘relevant moment’ to ensure contextual pertinence, while the iced coffee creative uses the principle of ‘relevant content’. 

Our pioneering Moments of Truth study found that advertising at the relevant moment leads to a 12% increase in brain response. When the relevant moment and relevant content are combined, there’s an average 32% increase in brain response – proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the power that contextual advertising holds.

The benefits of contextual OOH advertising 

There are many diverse benefits to using contextual advertising in OOH:

  • Brand relevance – by delivering contextually relevant messages that align with their audience’s needs, brands improve their own perceived relevancy.    

  • Capturing attention – contextually relevant OOH is in sync with the current moment. It’s easier to both capture and maintain viewers’ attention with an advert that does not seem detached from its surroundings. 

  • Improved performance – aligning ad content with audience intent helps to foster engagement and cultivate conversions, improving performance metrics across the board.

  • Cost efficacy – programmatic platforms allow ads to be continuously updated to reflect changing context and removed when they’re no longer relevant. This ensures they’re optimised at all times and no spend is wasted on audiences less likely to convert.

  • Simplicity – compared to digital mediums, OOH handles contextual advertising with ease.


Examples of contextual advertising 

We’ve compiled a few contextual advertising examples to help you understand the different ways in which you can use context to enhance your OOH campaign.

Garmin: World Cycling Championships

Fitness brand Garmin used the World Cycling Championships to drive awareness for their training products. During the multi-day event, Garmin advertised on DOOH screens, updating the creative daily to reflect that day’s races. 

Garmin used contextual relevance in two ways here: their brand is relevant to the overall event, and the ad content is relevant to the individual races. 

Uber Eats: Iftar Incoming

Food delivery service Uber Eats ran a campaign during Ramadan. It targeted different cities across the UK with a timely message about Iftar, the fast-breaking evening meal. 

Iftar happens when the sun has set, which happens at different times depending on where in the country you are. Uber Eats used the local sunset time to target audiences at the relevant moment – when they were hungry after not eating all day, and wondering what they would have for dinner. 

Guinness: Six Nations

Another great example of contextual advertising comes from Guinness. The brand took advantage of a national cultural event, the Six Nations Rugby Championship, to promote its famous stout. 

As the event sponsor, Guinness used OOH advertising to encourage audiences to watch the matches at nearby pubs. As well as locational context, Guinness used a countdown timer to tie into the relevant moment. 

Drive engagement with contextual OOH advertising

Using contextual advertising effectively is all about understanding your audience’s current needs and frame of mind. This important information can be inferred using context, which is something OOH’s real-world presence provides in abundance. 

When ad content and context are aligned, audiences are more receptive to brand messages. They engage at higher rates, have higher ad recall and are more likely to make a purchase. 

If you’re looking to use contextual advertising in your OOH campaign but don’t know where to start, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat. 

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