Why start-ups shouldn't discount outdoor advertising

When thinking about promoting their business, few start-ups would consider out of home advertising.

But according to Joe Hills, head of the Nurture programme for start-ups at JCDecaux, they would be foolish to discount it. We caught up with him to find out more…

What actually is out of home advertising?

It's any advertising that is found on all physical formats - so in public spaces. That could be in railway stations, shopping centres, high streets, busy roads, and it's everything from small traditional poster sites through to large digital interactive screens like we have at Waterloo for example, we have a 40m digital screen.

But isn't that really expensive?

Before you even get to the cost element and consider parting ways with what is, especially for start-ups, hard-earned cash, you need to understand the medium and how it can work for you. And you also need to be able to plan a logical and impactful campaign, which is bespoke to your brand and who you're trying to reach.

Through Nurture, we provide all the support and resource and data that enables a brand to produce an effective outdoor campaign. Then, when they're at the point where it makes sense for them to make that investment then whatever they buy from us, we match that investment. So for start-up's their budget is essentially doubled by coming through the Nurture programme. So, if for example, they invest £20k with us, then they get a campaign that is worth £40k - we do that because Nurture is about developing a long-term partnership with these brands and helping them on that journey. Whilst that's a significant investment for them at an early stage, we like to think if we pay it forward then as they scale, the Nurture programme also benefits. It's beginning to pay off in that respect.

What benefits are there for start-ups of OOH advertising over other forms of advertising?

I think a huge benefit is the stature that it gives your brand and the fact that it makes you stand out against competitors.

Because there's the perception that outdoor advertising is for big brands and big brands only, then when earlier disruptive, challenging brands use outdoor then they give off this perception of being a long-established, credible brand. So for that reason, whether they're looking to increase their distribution across various retailers, if they're a product that's sold in Tesco for example, the buyers look at it very favourably. Or if they're looking to raise their next round of investment, investors also look at it very favourably. At the end of the day, whether they're buyers or they're investors, they are human and because of the association that outdoor advertising is for big, credible brands, then it will have a positive impact.

It also drives sales and we have various examples of that - like with Cauli Rice (previous VOOM finalists). We also have case studies that it increases web traffic so whatever the call to action that's on the billboard or digital screen then provided it's made clear and the location is correct (and we help with both of those things) then it can work on many different levels.

Our designers, who are extremely experienced in knowing what works well on an outdoor ad (it's very different to what works well online or in a TV ad) will design the creative free of charge for start-ups.

You've mentioned Cauli Rice, are there any other start-up success stories that you're able to share?

MacRebur (last year's VOOM winner) is a great example. We were promoting the crowdfunding campaign and they reached 150 per cent of the target they were looking to raise in two weeks, rather than the 60 plus days that you normally have listings for on crowdfunding sites. It helped to make MacRebur, which is essentially tarmac and not typically front of mind for consumers normally and quite a niche topic into something that was consumer facing and it helped to provide positive brand association so that people would consider donating to the crowdfunding campaign.

It works for a really broad range of sectors though. Recently we've had success for service-led businesses, like the Uber model, and with fast-moving consumer goods brands - various food and drinks brands. It really works on so many different levels, which is why if you look at our client list it's extremely diverse and even includes B2B businesses as well.

JCDecaux has partnered with Virgin Media Business to bring advertising advice to the VOOM tour bus. Check out the cities that the bus will be visiting and head down for your opportunity to get some one-to-one advice on advertising from JCDecaux’s experts.

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