The integration of social media into outdoor advertising is not a new phenomenon and has gained prominence with the emergence of Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising. Social media is now being viewed as an important element when planning an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) campaign. As efficacious as this merger may be, its potentials have not been fully harnessed in Nigeria.
Social media and OOH advertising has what can best be described as a symbiotic relationship; both elements lending credibility to one another. While outdoor advertising benefits from the social relevance and engagement offered by social media, the latter in turn reaps from large audience appeal and massive viewership provided by outdoor advertising. Incorporating social media elements into your outdoor advertising campaign takes your consumers to your website and social media pages. It also increases brand awareness and continues the thread of conversation between your brand and its audience.
So far twitter has successfully topped the chart as the most convenient social media tool for billboard advertising. The reason for this is not far-fetched. Twitter is known for its short and concise nature which best complements billboard advertisements. Billboard ads are known to be brief, precise and simple – communicating a brand’s message as quickly as possible; the same goes for twitter with its 140 character limit for mobile phones and 160 for computers. You have to be very succinct, quick and witty to thrive on twitter. Little wonder both elements are very compatible.
The use of hashtags on twitter has become common place and has been identified as the global connector of social media. It is very effective in establishing online conversations and building a cross-channel online community. With its adoption by several social media platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram, hashtags has depicted itself as the thread connecting all social media channels. One hashtag, run across all social media channels, can be used to garner attention to an ad campaign. Hashtags have become more than just a way to categorize posts or add a narrative to your updates. Marketers have found new, innovative ways to use hashtags as a means to drive conversation, harness the public support, and garner attention to their brands.
The ongoing 2014 FIFA World Cup features some of the best social media advertising campaigns from prominent brands such as Coca-Cola, Adidas, Pepsi, Nike, McDonalds to mention but a few. Taking a cue from Coca-Cola’s “Sharing happiness” hashtags were used to get people to take pictures of themselves and post online to enable Coca-Cola create a collage of its consumers. This generated a huge buzz online and Coca-Cola fans all over the world submitted started submitting their pictures to have their face printed on the collage. Other brands used short YouTube teasers, hashtags and other tools available on social media to drive their ad campaigns.
According to forecasts by Magna Global, Social media marketing spend was estimated to increase this year by $20 billion (27%) as a result of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Brands like Addidas and Nike merged OOH with social media by showing clips of their YouTube videos on specific outdoor ad sites. These videos went viral and created more engagement on the campaigns thereby lending credibility to their advertisements. Adidas has been reported to have spent more on digital marketing than TV ads. According to Tom Ramsden, global brand marketing director for Adidas football, “this will undoubtedly be the most social World Cup ever and probably the most social event in history.”
The incorporation of social media into outdoor advertising hasn’t been successful in Nigeria due to several reasons such as erratic power supply and inadequate access to internet facilities. Shittu A.R.A of Ahmadu Bello University, while speaking on the topic Out-of-Home versus Television and social media at the Africa Sign Expo conference, corroborated this fact by stating that “social media may not be able to contend properly in the rural area due to poor internet.”
However, as Bunmi Oke, President of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria pointed out, Out-of-Home advertising and social media should complement each other.” The prospects of this merger in Nigeria cannot be totally ruled out as the Nigerian social media community is growing rapidly. It is therefore imperative that Nigerian brands should adopt this trend to drive more engagement towards their products and services and increase their online community.