The next time you're on a city centre retail therapy expedition or just out for a walk to build up your daily steps towards that elusive 10K, prise your nose away from that insistent 'always on' mobile for a personal reality check.
Take a wee bit of time out to cheer a piece of refreshing news concerning the preservation of an iconic slice of our past more than holding its own in today's frantic internet-driven era. During your outing, you'll undoubtedly stroll past an eye-catching advertisement, either the classic paper-and-paste version or, increasingly, a digital billboard. It's worth a quick check to see if the advert is on social media.
A new report reveals that street hoarding adverts are likely to be noticed by significantly more people than the same paid social advertising where, it appears, its instantaneous message/rapid delete element regularly works against expected coverage. This is surprising given the apparent ubiquity of the all-powerful internet – more traditional methods of getting that message out are maintaining their market position.
Such classic-style advertising has been around, it seems, forever. In Glasgow, for example, sites marking history included Barr's Irn-Bru ad at the Trongate, banknote engravers Gilmour & Dean in North Hanover Street, and the 'Votes for Women' Freedom League in Gordon Street. Then there's Lipton, Swan Vestas, the list goes on and on. They all belong to a different time, a different generation and well before the Internet Age. Yet they remain potent.
Fast forward and we now have the Glasgow City Screen on Union Street, digitally showing a new advert in a loop seven days a week. With a range of almost 1,000 metres, it's visible on Renfield Street and the junctions of Sauchiehall Street, Bath Street, West Regent Street, West George Street and St Vincent Street. The last time I walked past the screen, the BBC Good Food Show Scotland was headlined, and I hadn't noticed such a key event via Google or another online social platform or website.
New data from YouGov has been analysed by 75Media, who have a new presence in the city and specialise in selected classic and digital billboards in towns and cities across the UK. It confirms my suspicions about a strong 'hit or miss' element by relying on such internet/mobile sites to necessarily alert me of a major event or product in the offing. The survey reveals that 23% of people indicate they will pay attention more to an 'out-of-home' (OOH) advert compared to an identical one on a cell phone which reaches 18% of viewers. The YouGov Effectiveness of Billboard Advertising
report stresses that, multiplied over lots of different locations, the 'cut through' impact is significant. And unlike radio, TV or streaming ads, they can't be skipped or switched off.
The research also looked at how effective other forms of advertising were. Streaming is the least effective, with just 11% of people paying attention to them, while radio adverts scored similarly to billboards and TV slightly higher – but at a significantly higher price point. Calculating the cost of producing and airing a TV advert, compared to producing and displaying an advertising hoarding, they're worlds apart. An advertising hoarding can be as little as under £500 for a two-week campaign.
Award-winning brand and advertising specialist, Nick Kendall, who has worked on new product launches for Johnnie Walker, Unlilever, Haagen Dazs and Boddingtons, says digital is still seen as an unnecessary cost by some. In an essay for the UK Advertising Association's think-tank, Credos Kendall stresses that the question of adverts and choice is as old as advertising itself. He neatly covers the question of social media when he adds that in a social-only approach: 'They grab hold of the smart
part of what is offered by the new media world', and forget the clever but hard bit of how advertising affects innovation, quality and consumer choice to inspire confidence in a product or service.
Interestingly, Generation Z (Gen Z), those aged between eight to 23 years of age and considered the first fully-fledged digital generation, are embracing aspects of what has been dubbed 'nostalgia marketing'. One would think, what with the likes of social media, they live very much in the here and now rather than dwelling on the past. Not so: such advertising registers with people and is at its most effective when a brand makes an emotional connection with its audience. For Gen Z, anything 'retro' is a goer.
Nostalgia works by reminding us of ourselves at a different time, letting us reflect on the past. For many of Gen Z, it tells them of how the world, their parents and grandparents lived. It is the wise organisation that relates itself to the past, drawing on the emotions of the customer.
Peter Campbell started up Snowshock Ltd two decades ago. Currently commercial director, he recalls how as a professional salesman he saw a 'tiny advert' in the local newspaper looking for an agent to sell frozen drinks. Within no time at all, he had established his own slushy machine business. By 2011, it became the preferred, authorised seller to the majority of the UK's convenience stores including Nisa, Costcutter and Londis. With 4,000 customer sales, fast approaching £4.5 million in revenues, it sells a range of products including Iced Fruit
, a healthy slush sold in schools and leisure centres, Frappina
real iced coffee and Fizzee
, a carbonated version of slush. As the street advert might say: 'yummy'.
Back to that planned city centre walkabout. It might kick off with an individual on their mobile while upstairs on a bus zooming past an advertising hoarding. There's always the return journey home to catch the eye.
Former Reuters, Sunday Times, The Scotsman and Glasgow Herald business and finance correspondent, Bill Magee is a columnist writing tech-based articles for Daily Business, Institute of Directors, Edinburgh Chamber and occasionally The Times' 'Thunderer'