This post is by Simon Harrington, Exterion Media's Marketing Director.

At this time of year, Christmas TV advertising is often the number one priority for many marketers, with big brands investing heavily to ensure their ads are the most compelling out there.

However, it's not the only way to reach and engage a mass audience during the festive period. Studies have found that 72% of consumers recall outdoor ads, compared with 77% for television and 64% for online. So Out Of Home (OOH) advertising shouldn't be overlooked at any time of year, but particularly not at Christmas. Below I've listed the key ways for brands to harness the power of OOH to reach both existing and new audiences.

Reaching shoppers at the point of purchase

The power of OOH to reach shoppers when they are 'on location' and in 'buying mode' is a key reason for its importance at Christmas. Our own research showed that 56% of consumers use their local high street at Christmas and almost half of shoppers spend a great deal of time thinking about gift purchasing while on public transport. So while it's true that more and more people are shopping online, there's still a big opportunity for influencing impulse purchases and inspiring ideas when consumers are physically near their point of purchase.

And the industry is advancing fast when it comes to targeting key audiences. Route is the audience research body for outdoor advertising. Its data and insights, which detail how many people see OOH advertising campaigns and how often, is increasingly helping brands reach the most relevant audiences. In fact, according to Route, 95% of those who are influenced by Superside bus ads are pedestrians. It is these passers-by who are most likely to be near a point of purchase. The more embedded this audience proximity-based approach becomes, the more effective and fulfilling outdoor campaigns will become.

Mobile is a must

But of course it isn't just about driving footfall. The proliferation of mobile means that brands can drive online traffic by encouraging commuters and shoppers to visit a brand's website while they're on the move. The potential for this interaction at Christmas is even more pronounced. Our online urban community, found that 56% of shoppers researched or planned Christmas gifts on their mobile and 82% said their mobile phone made Christmas shopping easier.

Communicate compelling real-time offers

Brands can boost the value of their OOH advertising further if they use digital screens to display offers in real-time. For instance, used real-time technology to offer daily deals on digital posters. For two weeks during December, the best deals available each day from the retailer were displayed across a variety of locations including rail, roadside and cinema.

And with the type of customer data available becoming more in-depth, targeted real-time offers on digital billboards open up exciting opportunities for seasonal offers. Just this year we've seen "connected" bus shelters, NFC-enabled pods at Westfield and ads that react in real time to provide relevant, engaging and targeted content for consumers while they're on the move.

Don't underestimate the format's emotive potential

Finally, planners and advertisers will be aware that to make the most of outdoor advertising the creative execution of the campaign, as well as the medium and its placement, needs to be right.

In a similar way to TV advertising's ability to pull at the heart strings, creative OOH advertising can evoke emotion and grab consumers' attention during the festive season. When a brand has a strong story to tell, the mediums are at their most effective when they work together. This is particularly important when targeting a busy and social urban audience who aren't always heavy TV viewers.

A good example of this was the way Jack Daniel's used OOH, accompanied by TV advertising, to share nostalgic insights into its heritage and traditions. This culminated in an evocative Christmas outdoor ad with an image of Tennessee residents gathered around a 'Barrel Christmas tree' with the strapline 'It's not what's under the tree that matters; it's who's around it'. This was accompanied by its Christmas TV ads.

So when it comes to Christmas advertising, don't just think about TV viewing figures. OOH can be an engaging, captivating, enduring and emotive way to showcase products and brands to a mass audience.

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