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Ambient Advertising

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A write-up on Ambient Advertising.

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Ambient Advertising

  1. 1. ‘Mystery is the mind. More so, if it’s that of a consumer! ’A marketer will rarely find one single way to make a consumer buy a certain product. But withmillions of brands entering the market every day, marketers are faced with the constant need forfinding intrusive ways to effectively market a product. Each brand is vying for the all-importantconsumers time and attention, each willing to experiment with fresh and unique ways to promotetheir messages to specific groups in an appropriate environment. In this ‘buy me’ environment,advertisers are left with little choice other than to resort to novel ideas to woo their customers.Good or bad, advertising is all about grabbing attention! One might not notice his boss walking in theoffice in a business suit on but would surely get intrigued to see him in a towel! Why? Because that’san awkward thing to see, rather to do! A marketer today exploits this psychology of human mind. Heaims to bring up techniques to advertise so cleverly that it catches the consumer’s attention whenthe consumer is completely unaware and in whatever state he/she may be in.‘Ambient advertising is one such trend, fast catching up as aninnovative marketing technique that grabs the customer attentionthrough an unusual medium, in the time and place least expected.’A new concept for the advertisers as well as for the advertising agencies, the whole idea of ambientadvertising is to catch the eye of the niche even before they realize they are a target! ‘Ambient’advertisements are so considered because they encompass ones atmosphere. It neither restrictsitself to mainstream media outlets like radio, television and newspapers nor does it adopts a size,shape or format. Ambient advertising is a brand message that knows no boundaries and hits youabruptly anywhere, anytime. On public beaches, on the backs of bathroom stall doors, at the bottomof golf course holes, on the floors of supermarket aisles, tattooed on people, painted on cars,printed on egg shells. And that’s the point. That’s what makes it so refreshing. Jignesh mishra of ONMedia says,‘Advertisers are always trying new ways to reach consumers, use spaceswhich have not yet been used.’Ambient advertisers leave no place unexplored and untouched .And if they have, it could only be forthe sole reason of being rebuffed by law or ordinance which doesn’t forbids advertising to its weirdlimits.
  2. 2. (from up to down) Ad shows people climbing intoor out of the car when they are actually entering orexiting stair, dumbbells placed at subways in NewYork City creating an illusion of person holding thesafety bar ,doing weights, also showcasing a yogapractitioner on the flexible stems of drinking straws
  3. 3. (From up to down)An ad featuring Kelloggcornflakes around London sidewalks,fantasizing a motorcycle while pushing thetrolley around, an ad that says’ smoking isinjurious!’
  4. 4. Advertising has, at some point, likely made our lives better, either because we must advertise ourown businesses, or because ads help pay for goods and services that otherwise would have passedcosts along to us. Ambient advertising, though considered a nontraditional stand alone activity , itserves in the same manner as any other advertising medium i.e. Letting consumers know aboutproducts. Much of the time, its also highly creative and entertaining, which stems from its emphasison thinking outside the box and trying to work with smaller budgets.Be it the blood spouting fountain, which was part of a promotional campaign for a horror filmfestival and the dog with the ‘unmanned’ leash used to promote a film, The Invisible premiering on apopular television channel, More and more consumers are moving from just transactions toexperiences with the brand. Ambient helps brands be more a part of people lives ,break through theclutter and reach out to all ,say ad professionals.‘What has triggered the trend of ambient advertising? It’s the need toget noticed.’Traditional marketing is slowly loosing its charm and appeal and its returns dwindling every year. Thepublic are ignoring TV advertising in its masses as broadcasters offer the option to record specificprogrammes and fast forward through ads (Tivo, Sky+ etc) negating advertising breakseffectiveness. Moreover, these main stream advertisements mediums usually cost a huge amountfor one insertion. And if the size or reach of the newspaper or any such conventional medium is notsignificant, it goes unnoticed. As such more and more brands are opting to advertise through ananomalous source of media rather than more traditional ones of print & electronic media, radio &newspapers. Ambient advertising helps in establishing individual connect, and is more reasonable interms of cost effectiveness. Thats the reason bigger brands are going in for it.Bharat Parekh, a financial consultant, was looking for a unique way to publicise his latest scheme. Hewas not interested in promoting his scheme through conventional ways. "So, when my ad agencycame up with the idea of gifting apple baskets with my companys logo stuck on each apple to mypremium clients, I was all for it. It not only helped build a personal connect, but also got me goodbusiness." ‘Advertising is one that impacts!’A water fountain spouts blood. A dog walks around with a leash around its neck, ominouslysuspended in mid-air. No, these are not attempts to create a sci-fi thriller but ambientadvertisements. Not just fresh idea but ambient advertising is impactful. A marketer opines,‘You either like it or you don’t. With a commercial you can turn it off,with a print ad you can turn the page, but with ambient - its unavoidableand thats why its so powerful.’
  5. 5. Whether you love it or hate it or, you cannot ignore it. Not just this, the great thing about it is itsability to target specific age groups & demographics in a chose n location with confidence, be it anightclub or a sports stadium etc.Having said that, this does not always work s in its favor.‘Ambient advertising, views almost nothing as sacred. Perhaps itstime they should.’Ambient media though proving to be a powerful source of communication is discarded on certainfronts. Every available space is now an advertising platform, it seems. Over the past decade, ambientadvertising has become ubiquitous. Be it high traffic areas include shopping centers or mainpedestrian walkways, business parks or roadside, exhibitions or a fashion store changing cubicles.Ambient media in someway or the other tries to invade in the private space or relaxed momentswhich instead of creating interest would annoy a customer and may persuade a rather harsh andaggressive behavior . Billboards were taken down in the city centre of Sau Paulo for the sake ofarchitectural beauty and cleanliness of the city. Even space is not left !The Russian space programlaunched a rocket bearing a 30-foot Pizza Hut logo, and some companies are investigating thepossibility of placing ads in space that will be visible from earth!Not jus t places, the amounts of advertising and marketing, people are exposed to daily have alsogone beyond belief. Ambient advertising, today, covers lavatory walls, adorns petrol pump nozzlesand book-marks, and livens up coffee cup holders and pizza boxes .in short, it has simply becomeimpossible to avoid. Unfortunately, the basic nature of most ambient advertising is developed in thisway!Some accuse efforts into getting ambient as "environment pollutants”, creating disorder and clutter.This is why marketers are pressed to find even more pioneering and insistent ways to cut throughthe "ad clutter" or "ad fatigue" of modern life. Others worry that this deluge of advertising willcreate a backlash with consumers and they may walk of .People may feel trapped and that cannotalways make the desired result.‘Ambient tactics can be fun & informational but marketers need tostop being so self-serving and sales driven and get a clue to do the rightthing from the get go.’Most ambient marketing is fun but the more potentially damaging campaigns can makes somemarketers “ask forgiveness rather than ask permission”. This can ultimately have a negative impacton current and future customers.Globally, ambient advertising is going in the direction of interactivity. It’s better for the ambientindustry to think of possibilities that brighten up the city and accentuate the architecture such asneon and LED (light emitting diode) screens. One can even make advertising ambient interactivesuch as a touch screen so that you wave your hand and play with the billboard.
  6. 6. Screen technology, mobile-tagging technology such as Quick Response (QR), a two dimensional barcode, were initially seen in Japan and have now travelled to Europe and the US. A user with a cameraphone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR code causing thephone’s browser to launch and redirect to a site’s url.So, It’s also about entertainment, not just “buyme, buy me!” Social responsibility causes are also kicking in. Large companies take the responsibility to talk aboutthe problems of certain communities, green movement, etc.‘The ad industry needs to be keenly aware of the cues we’re sendingto kids on a much deeper level in terms of what we ‘value’ as a society .’Before one considers ambient marketing, the impact it will have on prospects and current customersshould be carefully thought of. Provocative and exciting campaigns, Engaging visuals, greatexperience? True, the effect in the eye of the beholder. No one is saying ‘don’t market’, that’sunrealistic. Ambient advertising is likely here to stay, and "ignoring" it wont help combatcommercialism. But, responsibility and accountability go hand in hand, with outcomes that cannot beignored. Often, little thought is given to the trickle down impact of ambient advertising on society.Media literacy and critical thinking skill sets will help overcome the shock value an ambientadvertising creates.It’s in the favor of those marketers be mindful of the methodology, messaging,and harm that comes from zero accountability and reach out to society in an acceptable way. ‘Brands are expected to spend £40m across the sector in 2009, downfrom £57m last year and a severe drop from the high of £61m achieved in2007.’Although ambient advertising may make a mark by having immense shock value, yet it is still notstrong enough to muscle out the more conventional forms of advertising. For branding and publicitywe still need to rely on print and electronic mediums. Ambient media alone will never have the sameeffect, unless it’s connected to some other media and recognizable in what it tries to tell you. It is asort of self-regulation. If you look at Sao Paulo, there were a $100 million lost in ad revenue in out-of-home (as per the Internet), and it sounds dramatic for companies that rented out billboards. It’stragic for those who sell space.The boom years before 2008 created an explosion of creativity in media ideas, though many of themwere poorly conceived. Every week we were getting three or four new bits of media that were nevergoing to succeed. You just know when an idea is not going to work out,” says Gideon Adey, kineticbusiness development director .For e.g. Ads on escalator risers are in themselves self-defeating, asthey are visible only when there are few people on the escalator. The worst advertising down-turn indecades has cut a swathe through the ambient media sector, clipping the wings of media owners ,forcing them out of business and driving revenues down .This should, however, leave the field clearfor brands to take advantage of more effective niche opportunities.
  7. 7. According to Michelle Edelman,‘Ambient advertising should provoke emotions and provide anexperience to its customers. ’Essentially there are three main routes to success for an ambient medium. Timing is vital; a mediumthat can reach someone just before they are about to do something else will often prove successful.For example, credit card brand Visa advertises on petrol pump nozzles to encourage people to useits cards rather than cash when paying .Another important consideration is the mindset of theconsumer when they receive the message. Changing room ads target their audience when in apersonal environment. Ads about weight loss or beauty products which may be embarrassing in awider social location are therefore more appropriate there. It is also important to match theenvironment to the brand message. Ambient marketing campaigns should be entertaining, non-intrusive, and meaningful. Paramount Pictures promoted the release of the film Transformers:Revenge of the Fallen by installing a giant Bumblebee Transformer in Londons Westfield shoppingcentre. For example, Sony Ericsson promoted a fashionable mobile phone through ads in changingrooms in Miss Selfridge, knowing the campaign would almost exclusively reach 16- to 25-year-oldwomen. Such tight targets of such campaigns make them more advantageous in their effort.However, by the same token advertising can easily reach saturation point and lose effectivenessthrough overexposure. As such originality of concept and innovation of approach is important inambient Media.‘Ambient media forces advertisers to think on a much wider plain andto realize that media is completely open-ended, its everywhere. Unlikebroadcast and print, ambient is more in your face and you connect with itat a very immediate, emotional level.’Whether used stand-alone or in conjunction with a more traditional advertising campaign, ambientadvertising brings up a fresh idea to way to advertise and so is expected to stay here for a long timeand become more and more visible as it is an innovative and cost effective way to influentially andexpressively target consumers.‘Advertisements carried by niche media are always effectiveespecially when they never let go a chance to surprise, excite and engage!’

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