New mobility

We all have direct experience of the huge increase in mobility. Yet there are also massive and growing barriers to mobility that we cannot ignore – traffic jams, overfilled public transport, infrastructure that is generally strained to the limits by a growing number of people ‘on the go’. We live our lives today at a pace that is so much faster than 20 or 30 years ago, and the demand for (and expectation of) constant accessibility is being pushed to extremes. The times when our big cities slept at night are long gone – life today is 24/7. The increasingly dynamic and flexible organization of working hours demands equally flexible opening hours for stores. Longer and more often is the general tendency. Filling stations, airports and rail stations are increasingly important as shopping venues, a trend that is set to continue in the future.

Digital culture

Digital media permeate our daily lives, both professional and private. They entertain and distract us, and they keep us informed about all aspects of life. The increasing convergence and ubiquity of the digital media are leading to new forms of social communication, participation and organization that are almost impossible to resist. Digital is not a medium as such; it permeates and influences all the media, creating one big digital network Augmented reality is no longer the future, it is already being deployed successfully in out-of-home advertising. QR codes are not simply a workaround, and smartphones can do more than just banner ads.

Explosion of channels

First came the mass media, now we have masses of media. With the increasing fragmentation of media channels and target groups, the art of effective media planning today consists in aggregating the myriad channels in such a way as to obtain effective reach, and orchestrating them so that a consistent message is communicated at all touchpoints. But one thing has remained unchanged in the digitized, fragmenting media world: the need to have a strong brand. Brands offer orientation, convey emotions and create identity. Out-of-home advertising reaches the fragmented target groups and also low-level consumers of other media (e.g. people who watch little TV). In that sense, it is the last remaining mass media.

Perforation of media usage

Up until recently, the general rule was that radio was the medium of the early morning: breakfast and the drive to work were radio prime time. Evenings between 7 and 11 pm are still the preserve of television. But now laptops, tablets and smartphones have begun to creep into people’s media usage, and in certain target groups the shift is a major one. Parallel to the explosion in smartphone usage during the morning, tablet PCs are putting great pressure on radio and newspapers. At the same time, heavy early-evening use of the iPad, the medium to snuggle down and relax with, is posing a big challenge to television. Tablets represent a huge shift in media consumption patterns. They are increasingly taking on the role of leisure and consumer devices.

Distraction and focus

One of the most important future trends will be the increasing split between distraction and focus media. Young users in particular expect diversion. Many of them find it more and more difficult to concentrate on one thing. They let content wash over them and enjoy the background noise of the media. They take a look at what is on offer, surf a little here, zap a little there, chat and post. All with a latent feeling of boredom. Media that feed this need for a constant stream of distractions could be termed distraction media. This does not mean that such media are used only by uneducated target groups – atomic physicists enjoy switching off like everyone else. Travel time is the ideal situation for using distraction media. Here, again, the megatrend towards greater mobility is driving the development of distraction media. The reason is simply that people are often on the move and seek distraction. Advertising that targets such situations needs to turn up the ‘volume’ to get attention and it has to offer entertainment or relevance (or both).

Given the general noise level and ubiquity of the media, a parallel trend is the growing need finally to get into something again and focus on it. In contrast to consumers of the distraction media, users know what they want to get into and they are ready to invest money (!) as well as time. In this situation users will immerse themselves completely in the medium, almost blocking out the outside world – cinema, a favourite magazine, books and specialized media (whether analogue or digital). Such “slow” media with premium content are the opposing pole, a sanctuary from the age of the 140-character message. These premium media with premium content go into depth, rather than staying on the surface. The necessary condition: concentration and time. The advertising business has to be clearer that users should not only get content, they should also pay attention. Advertisers need to understand the added value that this kind of use can offer.

Hyperlocality: the whole world as a website

The word hyperlocality is a combination of “hyperlinking” and “localization”, and it is used to describe how technical devices and physical objects can be connected digitally and their locations detected. The term was first coined by trend forecaster Max Celko.

These days the Internet is as much a part of everyday life as the air we breathe. We take it for granted, rarely even noticing how seamlessly it has become integrated into every aspect of our lives and business processes. Soon it will also be incorporated in the objects we encounter or seek. Then, in a subsequent step, objects will be able to connect to each other directly to form an “Internet of things”. In it, objects will relate to other objects and their environments and be able to respond to them directly. This puts us at the beginning of a technological development which is going to have far-reaching implications for the way we relate to each other and the objects around us.­­ The world will become clickable, virtual and real information will merge into one, and all objects will be interconnected, communicating with each other and locatable. The key technologies behind this are RFID- (radio-frequency identification) and GPS-enabled chips, augmented reality, the GeoWeb and mobile devices to assume the role of remote controllers and become our proxy representatives.

RFID tags are tiny transmitter modules which enable objects to be identified from a distance. They are already familiar to us from their use in ski passes and electronic labels. One application we hear frequently cited as a classic example is the intelligent refrigerator which can automatically place orders online to replenish items that are about to run out. However, if such technologies are to be viable in the future it is important that they are not merely technical gimmicks but can be genuinely useful or appealing enhancements to our lives. Near field communication (NFC) works in a similar way to RFID, except that the exchange of data takes place across a distance of only a few inches.

The technological possibilities that enable the tangible world to respond to our current needs also bring with them new opportunities for marketing. Advertising is becoming interactive. Thanks to its omnipresence in public places, out-of home advertising is the ideal medium for creating and reinforcing interactive advertising messages and bringing together the real and virtual worlds. For consumers there is the opportunity to access additional information or branded content related to the products being advertised. There is an increasing blurring of the boundaries between advertising, services, entertainment and trade. The implication for out-of-home advertising is to increase even further its potential to be designed as an interface and a possible sales area – and accepted as such.

And the principle of “advertising as a service” is now becoming even more important. The marketing adage that says “be relevant or entertain” is truer today than it has ever been.

Die Zukunft der Medien, Zukunftsinstitut 2013
Zukunftsletter, June 2013
Blink by Mediacom No. 4–5 2012/2013
The Future of Out-of-Home Media – Kinetic 2012
Max Celko, „die physische Welt wird klickbar“ 2008
TrendOne, „The Outernet. Say hello to the wild world web“