Why Fake OOH Ads Have Unknown Repercussions
Seeing Is Believing —Craig Barber, SVP, OOH, dentsu Media
Seeing Is Believing: Why Fake OOH Ads Have Unknown Repercussions
by Craig Barber, SVP, OOH, dentsu Media US
There have been a plethora of attention-grabbing OOH executions lately that have caused quite a stir. A viral frenzy was ignited when a bespoke build on the London Underground showed a tube train receiving a touch-up of mascara as it passed through a station. Another sensation occurred with the sight of a giant Barbie doll walking from its box in Dubai. These executions were entirely created using CGI and should be applauded for taking over our TikTok and Instagram feeds and shines a light on how a brilliant marketing idea can lead social conversation.
However, this poses a dilemma for the OOH industry. On one hand, it demonstrates the immense impact of OOH advertising, but on the other, it offers a way to sidestep the challenges of real-life executions. Nevertheless, the long-term effects of these stunts remain unclear.
While these may be considered incredible marketing campaigns in their own right, brands who use these tactics should remain cautious. OOH is generally considered one of the most trustworthy media channels, scoring significantly higher than online video, where ironically, many of these fake ads exist. In a world of misinformation, audiences who are initially wowed might feel cheated when later discovering that a campaign was intentionally faked. Research by Edelman’s Trust Barometer consistently reveals that consumers trust businesses more when they perceive them as authentic and transparent. This is where the power of social media can also work both ways – it can amplify a campaign to dizzying new heights, or amplify negative sentiment from audiences.
Another critical factor to consider is that none of these executions fully harness the strengths of OOH, particularly around contextual relevancy. An exemplary use case of this is the new Sphere in Las Vegas, where social media has undoubtedly amplified the reach of this colossal OOH real estate to unprecedented levels. However, the true power of this behemoth lies in the profound and enduring impression it leaves on those fortunate enough to witness it in person. The age-old adage ‘seeing is believing’ holds true here, as experiencing the Sphere’s grandeur firsthand creates a lasting and impactful memory. Brands want to be involved in the most authentic life experiences, whether it be Coachella, Art Basel or the latest concert. Authenticity is a metric that is challenging to measure but one that has an incredible hold over us. This serves as a reminder to marketers and OOH experts that, in the end, it is the quality impressions that will always reign supreme. Doubling down on crafting authentic and contextually relevant OOH experiences is the key to making a lasting impact on audiences.
Authenticity is a metric that is challenging to measure but one that has an incredible hold over us. This serves as a reminder to marketers and OOH experts that, in the end, it is the quality impressions that will always reign supreme. Doubling down on crafting authentic and contextually relevant OOH experiences is the key to making a lasting impact on audiences.
This is not just a cautionary tale for OOH. With the exponential development of AI, all media channels are at risk of going down the path of creating fake ads for a quick buzz without truly understanding the longer-term effects. AI has long helped brands push their content out, whether through sophisticated algorithms for targeting or through buying programmatically. But when content itself is created as such, do we lose some of the artistry of what makes great media content? The SAG-AFTRA strikes demonstrate the very real concerns the industry faces, and media content creators would do well to tread lightly when creating fake ads.