Non-traditional approaches to out-of-home and event marketing seem to be the latest trends in both fields. Many OOH marketers have moved past the billboard and are instead seeking to reach potential customers much closer to the point of sale in an impacting manner. Meanwhile, advertisers seeking to connect with consumers through events are opting for highly-targeted experiential programs in product-relevant venues over the crowded landscape of regional fiestas. As out-of-home and experiential marketers delve ever deeper to connect with consumers, the two arenas are converging in the approaches taken and the venues selected. At the same time, decades of inertia and infrastructure are on the side of the traditional approaches. The question that emerges from all of this is: Will new strategic tacks and innovations put the marquis event and big billboard out to pasture?
Typically, out-of-home Advertising (Billboards, Public Transportation, Cinema advertising) accounts for 3%- 6% of advertising budgets. In the Hispanic market, outdoor advertising lies at around $100 to $110 million and growing at a 10%-12% rate, according to Greg Taylor, Director of Hispanic out-of-home advertising at Miami-based Alcance.
Main Hispanic markets for outdoor advertising are, in this order, Los Angeles, Dallas Ft. Worth, New York, Chicago and Miami. Outdoor Advertising is priced on a CPM basis, with CPM typically lying between $3 and $5. These CPMs are lower than most other media categories (e.g. TV, Newspapers and magazines). In the Hispanic market, companies typically charge a lower CPM, as outdoor advertising inventory in Hispanic neighborhoods tends to be outside premium areas for outdoor advertising placement.
This is changing, however, as more and more marketers want to specifically reach Hispanics. As Alcance's Taylor points out, Hispanics tend to live in high-concentration Hispanic neighborhoods, which makes campaigns targeting them very effective. Interesting audit method Auditing of outdoor advertising is done with data from the Department of Public Transportation, which measures how many impressions a particular ad gets, the figure is calculated based on a formula that also takes into account the distance between the ad and the targeted audience (e.g. whether a billboard is right next to a highway or half a mile away but still visible to the car passengers).
Typically, an outdoor ad located on Los Angeles' Hollywood Boulevard will get 60,000 to 120,000 impressions a day. The out-of-home sector-once dominated by billboards, fancy signs, and painted sides of buildings-has come a long way since its inception. While these components are still very present in the marketplace, in the Hispanic market through companies including CBS outdoor and Alcance, there have been great strides made both strategically, in terms of message placement, and technologically, with the available display materials.
Greg Anthony, svp of sales at Alloy Access Media, an urban market OOH company, puts it this way: "We're more of an out-of-home rep-firm; we don't have a whole lot of inventory." Rather, the company works clients to devise custom programs to reach their targets, through barbershops, salons, laundry rooms and other venues. "Our job is to that we're not tied down to a particular inventory. This frees us up to go with the approach that best suits the client's needs."
One inventory that Alloy Access does own is a national network of 200 barbershops, which provide access to the firm's urban target audience for products like sneakers, and other items geared toward urban consumers. Asked how they have build up such an extensive network in such a fragmented landscape, Anthony muses, "Painstakingly." Among the more creative OOH options that Alloy has explored are instore floor decals, and public transportation wraps. "We even wrapped the L Train in Chicago," Anthony tells Portada. "That was pretty cool."
Coming soon to a supermercado near you…
Houston-based OOH company Zip-Cast works mostly with high-volume supermarkets, or as Edward Balderas, Zip-Cast VP of Sales, refers to them "Supermercados on steroids." Zip-Cast places five LCD monitors throughout each supermarket. According to Balderas, each of these stores averages approximately 60,000 transactions per month, and they estimate that there are 1.5 people per transaction. In terms of penetration, the company estimates that in the Hispanic consumer's 25-minute trip to the supermarket they are exposed to the whole 7-minute digital loop of ads, which, as dubious as it sounds, is not unlike the working assumption that each magazine or newspaper reader flips through each page and views each ad, according to Balderas.
Zip-Cast recently signed a deal with Farmacias Remedios, a San Jose-based chain of pharmacies, to install LCD monitors in ten of the stores. The pharmacy is a unique in that it is a hybrid of typical U.S. pharmacies and those found in Mexico, which offer an array of homeopathic cures. "This is a very familiar setting for Mexican-Americans and an ideal place to target them," says Balderas.
Interestingly, Balderas expects the bulk of ad-investment to come not from big pharmaceutical companies, but instead from smaller companies, perhaps from some of the homeopathic Mexican companies: "Pharmaceutical companies are scared stiff about out-ofhome advertising following criticism over some of their general market efforts. Add the Spanish-language component and it is even more uncomfortable for them, so we're not holding our breath for investment to come from that direction.”
Among Zip-Cast's current clients are Bimbo Breads, La Costena, and Sin Barreras, a Spanish-language CD instructional company.
Of course, one aspect of both out of home and event marketing that can make for a tough sell is demonstrable ROI. Paul Suskey, Media Director, at Miami-based digital shop Media 8 notes, “Event and Out-of-home ROI is tough to gauge, because it’s so subjective. With digital, we can tell you pound for pound, dollar for dollar, where every cent goes. Digital is one of the only channels that can be measured exactly.
Alloy Access’ Greg Anthony agrees: “It’s tough to do,” says Anthony. “You have to have some sort of tracking mechanism in there. We’re in the process of doing something that tags back to the internet.”
Edward Balderas of Zip-Cast says that they are working with Nielsen to determine a more precise ROI, but reduces the ROI question to pragmatic terms: “It’s very clear that if you use this media for one month and there’s a sales lift, it’s working. If there’s no lift, it’s not working.”
Balderas says the company is exploring using short codes for coupons, a move that would help demonstrate ROI.
There are events, and then there are events—and then there are events. When it comes to experiential marketing, brands have a seemingly endless array of choices, each with its benefits and potential pitfalls. There is the well-worn regional fiesta, the one that folks come back to year after year, in which row after row of booth-anchored companies can convey their undying commitment to la comunidad, and maybe push some new product while they’re at it. There is the marquis event that bears the brand’s name and puts forth an undiluted vision of what its relationship is to the community, or how they would like it perceived.
Then there is the star-studded, open-bar gala, thrown by the industry for the industry, where all the powerful good-looking people—and those who fancy themselves so—can be found. These events, held in hip locales in the top 5 markets, are where shrimp and sushi flow as freely as the champagne, and everyone always has a good time.
Increasingly, though, there is the hyper-targeted, sales driven event, the one that pops up like a mushroom patch overnight and is set up at your local laundromat the next morning. This type of event is the new breed of experiential marketing, where relevance and engagement are one, and everyone present is keenly aware not just of what is being promoted, but what it can do for them.
“We don’t really put on events in the traditional sense,” says Latino Family Media’s President Laura Lentz, whose clients include P&G’s and General Mills’ agencies. She says what they often do is set up an event in strategic locations aimed at reaching the target in the ideal setting for the campaign’s purpose. “Sometimes we will go into unique environments such as Laundromats or beauty salons. We do this with P&G. We also work with government agencies under the radar,” says Lentz, saying that marketing in these environments is the new event marketing that has been going on all over the country. Lentz says that the traditional approach of securing a booth at an event like Fiesta Broadway and handing out samples is an outdated approach. “Fiesta Broadway is kind of old news. I mean, you’re just passing out samples to people who are drinking and partying amidst hundreds of other people passing out samples,” says Lentz. “What kind of traction are you really getting there?”
The Big Event…
While holding product-related events at the point of sale is fitting for myopic sales-driven initiatives, some brands thrive on being associated with The Big Event. These brands are often media companies that are trying to cultivate, or preserve, a certain image, and, not surprisingly, often media companies seeking to manifest in reality what they produce in their given mediums. One company that has honed the art of The Big Event is Batanga, whether, it is on the veranda at the Royal Palm in South Beach or at the ballroom in the Beverly Hilton. The music-driven social network throws music-driven events and concerts, and even has a dedicated event division—Batanga Live—that produces concerts aimed at the Latino youth demographic, offering advertisers access to this audience through sponsorship opportunities.
“Batanga produces events both in support of our own brand but also to help our clients deliver on objectives,” says marketing director Rick Marroquin. With our events, consumers have a tangible live connection to the Batanga brand. Events help Batanga have a presence in the life of the consumer.” Marroquin says that Batanga's events also show their knowledge of what their consumers want. Recently, he says, Cafe Tacvba had just released Sino, their six time 2008 Grammy nominated album, when the company committed to taking them out on tour. “It not only shows our knowledge of the Latin music environment, but their success on tour reinforces how well we understand our consumer as well,” notes Marroquin. Ocean Drive Español (40,000, Spanish, Monthly) the luxury publication targeting South Florida’s well-heeled Hispanics, also uses high-profile events as a vehicle to drive branding efforts. The publication regularly throws events at Miami’s hottest restaurants and bars, and recently teamed up with Heineken music series to present the Grammy nominated CABAS private concert. Speaking to how the magazine is coping with Miami’s increasingly diverse Latin population, associate publisher Tatiana Angel commented, “Ocean Drive Español has been able to successfully grasp the Latin luxury lifestyle markets and its readers with a very upscale and sophisticated content ands will continue to build upon and make the necessary adjustments and continue to expand its reach capabilities to keep up with the changing times.”
Given the different purposes served by micro-targeted events vs. large festivals and point-of-sale displays versus mass-exposure billboards, perhaps it is not a question of one approach replacing another, but rather a matter of broadening the range of approaches to advancing the brand as a whole. While micro-events are great for driving sales and creating direct connections with consumers, the more mainstream festivals and large displays are more fitting for branding purposes, promoting certain notions and associations on a broader scale. An interesting trend to note is the way in which out-of-home and experiential marketing are bleeding into one another, and sometimes inhabiting the same venues, as in the instances of out-of-home display and events moving into everyday consumer venues such as barbershops and laundromats.