Ambient Advertising - Where the world is your stage and everything is a medium

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Posted by luke on

Ambient advertising has been around as long as the woods. If you’ve ever passed a tree with a message scrawled across the bark, you’ve experienced a form of ambient advertising. In the world of advertising however, the term ambient advertising only surfaced in the mid 90s in Britain. And true to form, it garnered a lot of media attention and soon became an established term. So what is ambient advertising and how does it work. More importantly, does it work?

The dictionary defines ‘Ambient’ as an adjective that’s A) Part of the surrounding area or environment, B) Completely surrounding, encompassing and C) Creating a certain reaction or mood, often a subconscious one, by being wherever people tend to be.

Given the definition, you can see why it makes for the perfect advertising medium. With media fragmentation, ad clutter and increasing competition, Ambient advertising is a great way to get your message across in a unique and innovative way. There are other advantages too. An ambient ad can be positioned to deliver a message at the time of purchase - for example ads done in supermarket isles or floors/steps of malls. Thereby increasing brand recall and prompting purchase. Ambient advertising is also a great way to generate mass attention in centralized locations and directly interact with consumers. Given Ambient’s potential to generate buzz, it’s often a good way to generate content that goes viral. Taking the brand message to a huge number of consumers who may not even be exposed to the original ambient message.

But perhaps Ambient Advertising’s greatest strength is that it relies on creativity and imagination, rather than a big budget. It is typically low-cost, unconventional and can be localized and targeted to specific audiences. This makes it a great advertising medium for clients with smaller budgets – like local businesses or even charities as shown in the picture above. Delivering a big bang for a small buck.

So what’s the best way to maximize your ambient effort? For starters, make sure your ambient message is in line with your overall brand message. There’s no use doing a young, trendy ambient idea when your brand and positioning is all about targeting retirees. Not only will it not work, it could actually damage the brand. Next make sure your ambient message is part of an overall integrated campaign that includes conventional and digital mediums. An Ambient idea is that much stronger when the message is re-enforced through multiple mediums. Execution is everything when it comes to Ambient Advertising. So make sure you have the resources to execute your idea properly because the chance to rectify a mistake is much smaller. And finally, it’s all about location, location, location. Since ambient advertising is so location centric, make sure you’ve picked the right location, with the right target audience in mind. Ensure the location can sustain your message i.e., it isn’t torn down or damaged a couple of hours after you’ve put it up. And make sure you have all the permissions needed from the relevant authorities.

Get it right and you not only get your message across, you get people talking about it and your brand stays top of mind. With the minimum of expense and maximum impact.

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