DIGITAL OUT OF HOME: The last opportunity of influence this Christmas

November 26, 2019
Selfridges on Piccadilly Lights Selfridges on Piccadilly Lights

And so, the nation’s unique, annual relationship with advertising begins.

As a slate of warm, fuzzy festive commercials compete to win our hearts, the question on everyone’s lips is “will the new Christmas TV spots from Sainsbury, Waitrose, John Lewis surpass last year’s masterpieces?”

Equally as important, does Aldi’s plucky Kevin the Carrot transcend the Leafy Sprouters?

UK businesses are expected to invest £6.8billion on seasonal advertising during the final quarter of this year (Source: Advertising Association and WARC). Each year in the lead up to Christmas the market has grown, with spend up 4.7% on last year’s record.

But beyond the inevitable headlines and national debate, what’s just as impressive is the way brands are integrating digital out-of-home (DOOH) into their Christmas advertising plans.

Out-of-home, and particularly DOOH, is the glue that binds and primes all advertising activity across the Christmas period, often providing the last opportunity of influence.

This effect is supported by advertising spend last December when DOOH grew by more than 30% year on year.

Prime Time Advertising

DOOH is proven to prime all other media behaviour. If a consumer has seen a creative message on a large digital screen, then any subsequent impression works harder for the brand. Clearly this is critical at any time of the year, but in the aggressive Christmas market it makes all the difference.

Smart brands use the full motion capabilities of DOOH to announce their TV ad, whether to direct people to watch its TV premiere at a particular time (will the John Lewis ad drop in the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here ad break?), or, and in our minds much better, to actually premiere the TV ad in the out-of-home environment simultaneously as it is played out on TV.

As a branding tool, out-of-home is peerless. But during the Christmas period where sales activation is key, the true power of DOOH is revealed. Copy and messaging can be delivered automatically to respond to any number of criteria – the weather, day part, stock levels, gender, age, even the mood of the shopper.

Each of these dynamic functions makes a brand’s targeting extremely precise and timely because DOOH delivers in real time as shoppers source presents for family and friends right at the point of purchase.

Cue a slew of classic and new retailers now lighting up iconic sites such as the Piccadilly Lights.

Hey Big (Scottish) Spenders

Last year, Christmas cost the average household £2,000. And in the UK, consumers spend 42% more than the European average during the holiday season.

The average spend on gifts is £339, with some of Ocean’s key digital cities spending significantly more. In Scotland for example:

  • Aberdeen households spend up to £1,000 on gifts
  • Glasgow households spend up to £750
  • Edinburgh households spend up to £500

When it comes to splashing the cash, the top three Christmas gift categories are:

  • Fashion and accessories – 41%
  • Beauty – 39%
  • Food and Drink – 27%
  • Toys – 19%

And this is when Christmas shoppers are making their purchases:

  • 34% – late November to early December
  • 19% – throughout the year until mid-November
  • 16% – 2 to 3 weeks before the holidays
  • 8% – a week before the holidays
  • 4% – during the Black Friday or Cyber Monday November sales

A very small proportion of people postpone buying gifts until the Boxing Day sales; however the majority of people do shop during the traditional discount period.

In fact, the record for Boxing Day sales was broken in 2018 with shoppers spending £8.8million every minute on the day.

(source: YouGov)

How to Supercharge Your Christmas Sales

This year, Ocean has made it easier for planners to maximise the festive period with three accessible DOOH sales packages:

  • Targeting the earlier shoppers. Research from YouGov shows that in Ocean cities like Liverpool, Birmingham and Newcastle, consumers have the bulk of their shopping all wrapped up by the end of November.
  • Last minute. A collection of screens in key UK cities that target those shoppers who leave it late. At Westfield London for example, there is a surge at 2pm on Christmas Eve from male shoppers looking for a gift or two. The perfect time to get your message out.
  • Boxing Day Sales. Traditionally, media budgets have been spent by now. Ocean’s Boxing Day package is discounted to reflect the sales, delivering huge impact for brands wanting to clear stock.


Liliana Teixeira
Marketing Manager
Ocean Outdoor

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