LONDON: A majority of marketers are not aware of the full range of digital capabilities that out-of-home (OOH) advertising now offers, according to new research which suggests the OOH industry has a major education job on its hands.

Clear Channel UK, an OOH specialist, surveyed more than 200 marketing professionals for its Look Again report and found that less than one third of respondents realised OOH could provide contactless technology, motion detection, QR and NFC integration and facial recognition technology.

This was ironic as "innovation" was cited as one of the top buying considerations among marketers under pressure to find new ways to reach mass audiences.

More specifically, the innovative technologies dubbed most exciting to the marketers surveyed were environmentally friendly technology (70%), motion detection technology (67%), contactless technology (70%) and use of NFC/QR code technology (72%).

"We are at the point where many marketing professionals' perceptions are at odds with the new levels of digital sophistication available across the OOH medium," noted Sarah Speake, CMO at Clear Channel UK.

She highlighted the millions of pounds worth of investment in digital that had taken place in the UK in recent years to create "a medium that is capable of delivering broadcast reach, measurability and brand fame at a national and regional level".

Bus shelters can be turned into "tweet-activated vending machines and ad-serving aeroplanes," she said. "There's a wealth of sophistication available across the medium to tap into."

A session at Advertising Week Europe heard the statistic that digital OOH generates 30% of the sector's revenue from just 2% of the sites, but panellists cautioned against getting too hung up on the innovative aspects of digital outdoor and neglecting the wider campaign.

"It's about scale, not just the one-off stunt that digital makes possible," said Andy Tilley, managing director of Talon. And Ann Wixley, creative director of OMD UK, agreed that frequency was needed as much as stunts and insisted on the need for "layers of stuff" depending on the site and the message.

Another thing the panel agreed on was the need for greater collaboration between all the players in the industry – creatives, media owners and media buyers.

Data sourced from Clear Channel UK, Advertising Week Europe; additional content by Warc staff