Engaging Consumers Through Interactive Outdoor Marketing Techniques

By Srikanth
8 Min Read
Engaging Consumers Through Interactive Outdoor Marketing Techniques 1

While traditional outdoor marketing techniques like billboards, posters, signage or building wraps are ubiquitous, they all share a common drawback: static communication. These ads only allow for one-way communication from the advertiser to the consumer.

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Outdoor industry marketing agencies are designing innovative solutions combining outdoor marketing with interactive technologies. These forms of advertising bring outdoor marketing closer to digital advertising by offering personalized, engaging experiences that viewers can actively participate in. Many of these marketing techniques also feature social media integrations, letting viewers share their experiences and increase the brand’s reach.

Types of Interactive Outdoor Marketing Techniques

Interactivity in marketing can take many forms, depending on the type of ad and its intended reach and audience. Below are some examples of successful techniques introduced by outdoor marketing agencies

  • Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that overlays virtual elements onto the real world. In outdoor marketing, AR can be used to display ads through compatible devices, such as smartphones or AR-compatible wearables. AR ads offer more potential for interactivity, turning the real world into a canvas to showcase fully interactive product demos or gamified experiences.

For example, The North Face has employed augmented reality to create immersive in-store experiences and promote VECTIV all-terrain shoes. Participating stores featured AR-augmented windows, allowing visitors to interact with the brand’s products and scan QR codes with their smartphones.

  • Digital Signage

Digital signage uses modern electronic displays to show ads and marketing content. These displays can show animated content, network with one another or support touchscreens to offer more engaging ad content. Many digital signs include touchscreens, mobile integration through QR codes or NFC tags, motion sensors or facial recognition for direct interactivity.

Digital signs can display interactive experiences and connect to social media accounts, encouraging shares and engagement. Many outdoor industry brands have adopted in-store digital signs to communicate their products’ selling points or engage customers with their brand’s story. Patagonia is well-known for using digital signage to reinforce its commitment to sustainability.

  • Interactive Billboards

Interactive billboards are an evolution of standard electronic billboards. They incorporate engaging features and technologies, such as dynamic content, real-time updates and connectivity through QR codes, NFC tags and social media integrations. Some can function like digital signage by incorporating gamification elements, such as games or challenges.

One of the most well-known uses of interactive billboards in marketing campaigns is the Reebok “Are You Fast Enough?” campaign promoting the ZPump 2.0 shoes. It combined a billboard with a speed camera and challenged passers-by to reach 17 km/h while running. Successful participants earned a shoe trophy, which they could exchange at a nearby Reebok store for a free pair of shoes.

  • Experiential Installations

An experiential marketing installation is a non-standard advertising campaign that focuses on providing viewers with an immersive experience. Outdoor brand marketing agencies typically create these installations from scratch to create a bespoke marketing opportunity, ensuring it leaves a lasting and memorable impression.

Examples of experiential installations include interactive pop-up stores, participatory art installations or augmented reality art exhibits. L.L. Bean showcased an innovative iteration of the concept in its “Be An Outsider” campaign, creating outdoor co-working spaces with Wi-Fi access. 

Visitors were incentivized to spend time outside while at work and appreciate the outdoors more. The company reported interest in the brand skyrocketed after the campaign, with 440% more social media activity related to L.L. Bean and 478 more earned media placements.

Benefits of Interactive Outdoor Marketing

Including interactivity in an outdoor marketing strategy can benefit a brand’s ad campaigns and image in many ways. Here are the main reasons to consider interactive outdoor marketing techniques:

  • Increased Engagement

Interactive out-of-home (OOH) marketing experiences are generally more effective at capturing attention because they transform viewers into active participants. Interactive outdoor campaigns provide fun and novel ways to engage with a brand in ways that traditional advertising can’t offer, such as games, challenges or bespoke experiences like pop-up shops.

Integrating interactive billboards and other outdoor marketing techniques lead to longer view times and can increase conversion rates by up to three times compared to non-interactive billboards. They can also include data collection and analytics, giving advertisers accurate per-campaign engagement data.

  • Memorable Experiences

A well-crafted interactive campaign can become a memorable experience in its own right. It helps the brand and advertised products remain in the audience’s memory for longer and increases the likelihood of spreading further through word-of-mouth.

A prominent example of an outdoors industry brand focusing on memorable experiences is The North Face and the “Never Stop Exploring” campaign. In 2014, the brand transformed the fitting rooms in select South Korean stores into Arctic-themed challenges and adventures. For example, customers could free clothes and equipment from blocks of ice with an ice axe or throw snowballs at containers to get extra gear.

  • Social Media Amplification

An interactive marketing campaign can be built around sharing the moment, especially when the campaign is intended to generate emotional connections and provoke responses. Interactive outdoor marketing experiences can achieve this in many ways, such as gamification, social media feed displays or personalized content. 

Successful campaigns can go viral and generate millions of shares and mentions across social media platforms. An example is Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” campaign, which encouraged users of Patagonia products to share photos, videos and social media stories of themselves in worn-out or well-used Patagonia products. The premise helped showcase how Patagonia fans enjoy the outdoors and their most memorable stories and adventures, encouraging others to share their own.

How to Measure the Success of an Interactive Outdoor Campaign

While interactive outdoor ad campaigns can’t track every digital campaign metric, such as click-through rates (CTR), it is possible to measure their effectiveness with these essential statistics:

  • Engagement rate. Measures the percentage of people who actively interacted with an experience. It can help determine whether the outdoor campaign is engaging and attracting visitor attention.
  • Social media mentions. Hashtag usage rates and the number of shares that mention the attraction can be reliable indicators of the campaign’s viral reach.
  • Conversion rate. Some interactive campaigns can be configured to track how many users visit the landing pages directly from the booth or experience. From there, the conversion rates can be calculated directly, like in a standard digital ad campaign.

Boost Your Brand with Interactive Outdoor Marketing

Outdoor marketing experiences provide unique opportunities to enhance brand awareness, build an emotional connection between consumers and brands and create lasting positive impressions. Unique out-of-home marketing experiences are also an excellent way to distinguish a brand from its competitors and generate social media attention, extending the campaign’s reach.

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