Brands line up for 3D outdoor advertising

Vodafone: among brands to have used the 3D technology on Piccadilly Lights
Vodafone: among brands to have used the 3D technology on Piccadilly Lights

The new tech has been lauded by media planners and brands.

Ocean Outdoor has launched an outdoor advertising format that simplifies the creative process for 3D advertising and is attracting “strong” advertiser demand, according to buyers.

DeepScreen technology warps imagery and video so that when it is viewed from a specific vantage point, an illusion of 3D depth can be created from a flat screen.

Although similar “anamorphosis” or “forced perspective” technology has been used in Asia for a few years, it has been rarely deployed in the UK because most digital billboards are flat, which previously caused the creative process to be costly and prohibitive. 

DeepScreen simplifies this by using a template that, in theory, should allow 2D creative to easily render into 3D when viewed from a certain angle. Brands can place 3D ads at Piccadilly Lights and eight Ocean billboard locations across London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Norwich and Glasgow.

During a recent trial period, Vodafone, IWC Schaffhausen, Netflix, Deliveroo and PokerStars used the technology on the Piccadilly Lights screen in London (see video below).

Ocean Outdoor joint managing director Phil Hall claimed 3D advertising would be the next major evolution of digital outdoor after video.

“There has been a genuinely strong interest in the technology in the market,” he said. “You will get some clients that come on board because it's the next big new thing... But what has pleasantly surprised us is the interest from standard outdoor advertisers across many different sectors.

“Brands that have spent considerable sums on their TV creative are now looking at this as the icing on the cake.”

Ocean Outdoor is charging advertisers the standard digital OOH domination rate plus an additional licence fee of between £5,000 and £30,000 for 3D advertising. There is a separate rate card to use the technology on the Piccadilly Lights screen. 

The timing of the DeepScreen launch coincides with a recent surge in demand for outdoor advertising as footfall levels increase after lockdown restrictions were removed in July. According to the latest Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report, OOH adspend in the UK was £699m in 2020 and is predicted to rise by 29.3% this year, including a 43.7% rise in digital outdoor.

Brand interest

Outdoor agency leaders told Campaign DeepScreen technology should make 3D outdoor advertising more accessible to brands and there has already been strong interest in the format.

“The opportunity in the UK has been limited by the architecture and types of screens, but this is definitely a rising trend in out-of-home for the past year,” Dominic Murray, head of innovation at WPP outdoor agency Kinetic, said. “It’s definitely something a lot of clients are looking at; I’ve had about 10 different conversations about it. 

“I think if done right, it can potentially gain a huge online audience. If the creative is surprising, cool or shocking, it's likely to be shared on social media. If brands can capitalise on that then, you can get a solid return on investment.”

Chris Marjoram, the UK and Europe managing director of IPG’s outdoor media agency, Rapport, said brands needed to carefully consider how they integrated 3D outdoor advertising into campaigns to get real value.

“Is it a one-off or part of a more integrated outdoor campaign? If it’s just a one-off, you need to think carefully about your target audience, what is the reach and so on,” he said.

“In terms of value, we'd always be trying to look at how it augments into a wider campaign to create a ‘wow’ factor rather than a one-off special.” 

Advertisers should not use the technology if their main objective is reach, because the investment in content production could quickly outweigh the media spend.

Talon Outdoor head of creative solutions Jay Young said where the format worked well was creating big impactful outdoor moments that “make people get their phone out of their pocket”.

The social media bounce

One brand that has benefited from the shareability of 3D content is Vodafone, which recently ran DeepScreen creative to bring to life its sponsorship of the British and Irish Lions. 

The creative (highlighted in the video above) features a giant rugby ball being launched from Piccadilly Lights.

Vodafone brand and marketing director Maria Koutsoudakis told Campaign the telco wanted an activation that would create fame and talkability around its Lions sponsorship and the Piccadilly Lights activation has been one of its most shared marketing assets of recent years.

“The real benefit for Vodafone has been creating awareness around a big moment,” she said. “When billboards become 3D, they become shareable and you create this huge social media asset that gets widely shared.”

Although DeepScreen technology technically allows TV ads and other static creative to be repurposed, Koutsoudakis said it didn't work in the case of Vodafone’s Lions TV spot.

“I think you have to create for the format,” she explained. “The time, length and interaction with audiences is different from TV. The process to create content for this format has definitely been streamlined.”

A challenge for brands, Koutsoudakis added, would be how they creatively engaged audiences once this digital outdoor technology became normalised.

“With these formats, you always have to push that creative bar to get cut through,” she said.

That said, pedestrians should expect to see more giant zombie tigers and rugby balls jumping out at them from giant screens.

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