London gets more Out Of Home - But will it be effective?

It's not every day you get a press release about the development of media space - but this isn't your run-of-the-mill high street billboard. Outdoor Plus have announced that they've now secured the rights to develop two state of the art digital screens under the prestigious Hyde Park Corner in London. These digital billboards are estimated to have a weekly reach of over 1 million people and will will target London’s most affluent and high profile addresses; Mayfair, Belgravia, St James’ and Knightsbridge.

Describing the location and the opportunity to reach OOH consumers, Outdoor Plus told us,

The One, a brand new development located next to Hyde Park and positioned at either end of the Piccadilly Underpass in Knightsbridge, promises to be a spectacular and exclusive addition to the London digital landscape with the two high definition screens providing access to an enviable upmarket audience in an area of true media scarcity.

Reading around the hyperbole, a location like this presents a series of interesting challenge to potential advertisers. Firstly, located on an underpass - audience attention is at a ultra-low; they're going to be concentrating on driving, not taking in the nuances of advertising. In ten years time when the cars drive themselves, this won't be a problem. Until then, it's simply not realistic nor feasible to expect drivers to pay as much attention to 'roadside' as they would for street furniture, transit and the alternatives. However, roadside is the predominant form of OOH, particularly in the US.

Secondly, how do we convey an impact in the two or three seconds that drivers will be glancing at these billboards? David Ogilvy wrote about headlines - "On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar." And this is advice we've seen echoed again and again from John Hegarty to Dave Trott. If billboards like these are to be effective at all for brands, copywriters and advertisers need to remember the importance of brevity and making an impact with a passing glance. Otherwise, it's money wasted.