How Can OOH Drive Mobile Commerce?


By Ian Reynolds, CEO, KBH-On-Train-Media

Over the past year, mobile commerce sales have accounted for almost two-fifths (39.4%) of all digital sales in Europe, amounting to £37.9 billion.

The m-commerce market continues to grow at a rapid rate with the UK projected to spend £54bn via mobile devices by 2024. Recent research from performance marketing tech firm Criteo found that 48.9% of ecommerce transactions in the first quarter of 2016 were on phones or tablets – up from 43% in the same period last year.

Digital advertising is an obvious catalyst but out-of-home (OOH) is playing its part too, and this role is consistently increasing in importance.

A good example of OOH directly driving m-commerce can be seen in the changing behaviour of commuters and rail users. ‘Commuter commerce’ now accounts for £9.3bn of UK online sales per year, with more than a fifth of all UK online purchases taking place during people’s daily commutes (Zapp/Cebr).

However despite this huge growth, retailers are still slow to adapt to reflect the shift towards mobile shopping. This was highlighted in joint research undertaken by the Centre for Rail Research and, which discovered that the UK retail industry is sacrificing a staggering £6.6bn per year due to lack of investment into mobile optimisation.

But while retailers are playing catch-up, advertisers have a unique opportunity as creatives and brands can create unique OOH messaging to influence and further encourage buyer behaviour.  

According to research by Dipsticks in 2015, 90% of rail travellers use a smartphone. Combine this with an average journey time of 40 minutes and you have an optimum environment to deliver effective calls to action, as consumers not only have the intention and capability to go online, but also the opportunity.

Mobile and OOH are natural partners on the path to purchase. OOH communicates with a wide group of consumers in one hit, encouraging activity at the top of the purchase funnel. Wi-Fi advertising helps drive further awareness and allows those who are interested in a product or service to react immediately to that interest.

Almost half of the commuters surveyed (48%) researched a product they had seen advertised on the train that day. Furthermore, more than a third (37%) of those did that research straight away, 46% at home later on that evening and 15% a few days later.

So what else is driving the relationship between OOH and mobile?

Data platform technology means brands can identify consumers who viewed or expressed an interest in a particular Wi-Fi campaign consumed outside the home, then create an ongoing dialogue with them on multiple devices throughout the day. For example, serving targeted display messages to them during their commute home and then a video execution later that evening when they’re browsing on a tablet.

It’s safe to say that technology use is transforming consumers’ behaviour – and brands and advertisers need to follow suit. Customer spending on mobile devices is up and new channels through which advertisers can reach consumers are being created on a daily basis.

The train carriage is that rare breed, an uninterrupted ‘pause point’ environment. Very few media channels allow a brand to sit in the ‘shop window’ for 40 minutes a day. When you combine this with increasing numbers of mobile shoppers who use their device at every stage on the path to purchase, it makes for a unique, potentially business-changing communications opportunity.