digital outdoor

Healthcare Marketing: Digital Outdoor Provides Creative Options

With the emergence of digital outdoor, advertisers can switch creative in real time.  And that provides enormous opportunities for creativity that really cuts through the clutter.   

Just a few years ago, outdoor advertising was considered a dying medium.  That has certainly changed with the use of digital messaging on billboards and out of home displays.  And marketers are taking advantage of the new technology to reach out and grab consumers.

One example of creative use of outdoor is Vitaminwater, a Coke brand  in the United Kingdom.  Coke placed boards in train stations and at Piccadilly Circus with employees inconspicuously posted nearby to watch those that passed by.  Messages were sent to the digital board and placed under the Vitaminwater logo, which were specifically targeted to consumers who approached the boards.   The messages referenced clothing or accessories specific to the reader, along with the message to “go grab a Vitaminwater for energy.”

The purpose of the billboards was to engage consumers with the brand.  And indeed it did!  How could a passerby ignore a message directed specifically to him or her? And what a unique way to effectively draw consumers to the brand and communicate the brand message.

True, this may not be appropriate or feasible for a hospital but it does show how digital billboards can be creatively utilized.  Real time messaging provides enormous engagement opportunities for hospital brands. Hospital advertising doesn’t have to be boring or predicted.  The opportunities for creativity abound.  Even outdoors.


Healthcare Advertising: Digital Outdoor Advertising Is Not Your Father’s Outdoor

newborn baby, only a couple of hours old

Digital outdoor boards provides instant messaging.

Digital has revitalized outdoor advertising. It has greater impact than traditional static outdoor and it allows multiple messages to rotate on the same unit. In addition, it provides immediacy – perhaps the most powerful benefit.

E! Entertainment recently purchased from Clear Channel Outdoor, 125 digital billboards in 20 markets to plug its weeknight ”E! News”, displaying breaking news alerts as it happens. Instead of a static message, E! is digitally posting breaking news on outdoor referring the viewer to the network’s nightly news show for more details. The message can be changed almost instantly as news breaks. The Los Angeles Times was perhaps the first to try such an effort as early as 2008.

So instead of one or two or three static messages, hospitals can use digital boards to deliver instant messages. True, a hospital doesn’t have continuous news to post on a digital board, but the capability certainly deserves some creativity.

Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama uses digital outdoor to post the picture of each new baby born in the hospital.

The board shows the picture of the newborn and its first name. Of course, parental approval is required and last names are not provided. But the result is not only proud parents and grandparents but also the branding impact the hospital gives its OB services.

It’s refreshing, as you drive down the road, to see the photo of a beautiful newborn baby. Not only does that give you that “feel good” moment, it also subtly communicates that Jackson Hospital is in the baby birthing business while positively branding their service.

This is just one way to use the immediacy of digital outdoor. There must be many others. Even public service announcements, like updates on the swine flu epidemic, could be effectively communicated using digital outdoor. Pardon the pun, but the sky really is the limit for digital outdoor boards.

Digital outdoor is not your Father’s outdoor, but as Jackson Hospital can attest, it sure can make a father proud.


Hospital Advertising: Advertising That’s As Big As All Outdoors

Outdoor advertising billboardOutdoor advertising has increased its usefulness to healthcare marketers. Traditional media is struggling to maintain revenues and effectiveness. Print, radio and television are all under extreme pressure in a down economy and because of changing consumer media habits. But in the face of all this concern, outdoor advertising is seeing resurgence – a renaissance of the medium. Outdoor advertising is expected to see strong growth in the coming years. Behind only online advertising, outdoor has been the most dynamic media over the past five years. It is capturing market share from the other traditional mediums. So why is this happening?

Two primary reasons are causing outdoor to buck the trend.

1.  The first is the introduction of new technology. The digital billboard provides more visual impact and more flexibility than outdoor has ever had. To have several messages rotate on the board expands outdoor’s usefulness. And the ability to remove and/or insert new copy and designs in a matter of minutes has brought outdoor from a slow, long lead-time medium to an instant one. This has great advantages for hospital advertising. Instead of being locked into one message for the long haul or having to pay for costly changes, now a hospital can advertise several services at the same time and can change any message within minutes. For hospitals, outdoor provides flexibility that only radio and the internet can provide.  

2.  The second reason outdoor is growing market share is it’s cost efficiency. The average cost per thousand for outdoor has always been lower than practically ever other of medium. And in an economy that forces hospitals to stretch every penny and get the most of every dollar spent, outdoor delivers.

True, outdoor has its limitations.

  • The message  is very limited.
  • Outdoor competes with highway clutter.
  • And some view billboards as an eyesore that contributes to highway clutter and a community’s unattractiveness.

But despite these liabilities, in a media landscape where traditional advertising is taking hits, outdoor is a shining star. It’s big. It’s flexible.  It’s outdoors.