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Online pioneers first to adopt Digital Ribbons in London tube stations

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Exterion has continued its roll out of updated ad sites across the London Underground with the introduction of new Digital Ribbons at three of the busiest tube stations in the city.

King’s Cross, Tottenham Court Road and Piccadilly Circus welcome the strings of 42-inch Ultra HD screens to their roster of ad sites, spanning the length of some of their most highly trafficked escalators. Exterion are boasting a combined 15m monthly footfall and 20m impacts across the format, with 69% of these eyeballs belonging to the much sought after upmarket ABC1 audience.

This comes as a continuation of the media owner’s 2016 promise of greater use of digital technology in their OOH portfolio, an aspiration that helped secure the renewal of their London Underground ad sales contract. TFL reports that 1.35 billion journeys are made on the underground annually and the modernisation of inventory displayed to these passengers in recent years has meant the ability to easily target ad campaigns by time of day and location already exists in the form of other digital offerings. However, the unveiling of these flagship sites aligns well with the tagline now commonplace in Exterion’s own ads across the city “The power of full motion”.

The focus on movement is supported by findings from “Engagement Zone 2.0”, a study carried out by a partnership between Exterion and Bournemouth University. According to the research, engagement with ads was increased by 4 times when full motion content was used versus static formats. So, in addition to the benefits of instant changes to ad placement that “normal” digital screens provide, advertisers can, even more, be the centre of attention by taking a dynamic approach to their creative.

All Response Media viewpoint

It’s interesting to see that first to jump on the ribbon-shaped bandwagon are online pioneers Google and Netflix, promoting the Pixel 3 smartphone and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch respectively. Recognition of the new escalator installations highlights the strength of OOH advertising: reach and scale, and provides another example of brands, often lauded as being built totally online or through word of mouth, using traditional media to grow. In fact, summarising 2018 spends for some of the top online brands reveals the extent to which non-digital advertising was used last year:

Also interesting are the year-on-year trends for these advertisers, with TV and outdoor budgets seeing some very strong increases compared to 2017, seemingly at the expense of digital activity. More so than anything, this example highlights that in order to make the most of your media, there is not one single medium that deserves 100% of attention: more often than not the most effective media mix is a diverse one.

Moving back to the topic at hand, while more modest budgets may not stretch to accommodate cutting edge outdoor formats such as the Exterion’s Digital Ribbons, other offerings in the London Underground network may well be a fantastic way to grow your business.

The audience reached by the Digital Ribbons can be effectively marketed to in a multitude of ways, all without the need to shell out for bespoke creative and premium positioning. In London, there are a wealth of formats and opportunities for cost-effective campaigns, the insight from which can be taken away and the implementation scaled up for future campaigns once you have a baseline indication of performance to robustly calculate predicted ROI.

With so much choice on offer, it’s recommended to start small and sensible when considering OOH.  If your goal is ROI, it’s worth noting is that 4x the level of engagement sounds excellent on paper but stats like this often come hand-in-hand with increased cost (and the two don’t’ always increase in tandem). Rather than opting for full motion straight away, static ads are tried and tested. They have the benefit of the lower barrier to entry in terms of creative costs and there is transferable insight to be had from any past insert or on-the-page activity to guide which images and calls to action are used. And while you should always keep in mind the environment your ad will appear in and take advantage of the ways your audience interacts with it (higher dwell time is a key factor for OOH), there is capacity for creative assets to be reused. In the right hands, and targeted in the right way, out of home advertising can be a powerful tool for growing a business. If the latest and greatest Exterion has to offer has sparked a desire to explore this diverse media further, get in touch and we can discuss how best to utilise it for your needs.