I remember seeing something about how many adverts the average person in the UK sees per day. Bear in mind this was from about ten years ago, but how many do you think it was?

3,000.

Yep, 3,000.

I’ve no idea of the source, or anything else to do with how I learned that ‘stat’, but it popped in to my head this morning as I was driving to work passing some of the new (very nice) digital six sheets (D6s) popping up all over London.

I’ve no idea how many are going to end up in the ground (perhaps I should) but I started to think about how one particular D6 on the High Street would be seen in a different contextual setting from another, with very different average dwell times, and therefore the advertising on each could be consumed differently (or at least with varying degrees of relevance & effectiveness).

And this is repeated across the country, across different out of home (OOH) networks, for different media owners, for different formats.

So they are very different in either the way they are seen or in terms of the people who see them.

But are they sold differently?

Are they bought differently?

My real question is: do we think enough thought is going in to how individual sites interact with its individual audience, and for how long? Or do we just lump all D6s in to one bucket of ‘talk to loads of people as they are walking past’. (I’m focusing on D6s because that’s what we sell and therefore what I am interested in.)

I remember when I was selling space inside airports before coming here to NABER. With the multitude of fantastic D6s available at say, Gatwick, different D6s were in areas where different people acted differently. For example, there was one outside the big branch of WH Smith which had probably three or four times the dwell time of another less than 30 metres away because people would hang around the site looking at the flight information screen. Could advertising be tailored to take advantage of that and therefore extract extra value out of the (already very excellent) product?

And it’s the same with us; while we don’t necessarily have the variety of dwell time and context from location to location on each individual network (of course we do if you compare Post Offices & CTNs to Golf, or Golf to Malls), the context of how and why people are in the Post Office queue (I’ll focus on this as it’s the biggest part of our business) does change from time to time throughout the day.

Have a look at these dwell times for one of our Post Offices in Manchester (the average time spent here is 15 minutes per person per visit):

dwell times inside post office advertising

We have varying (but predictable) dwell times. Yet at the moment we’re showing the same 10 second long ad’s shown once a minute throughout the day.

That doesn’t feel clever enough, or right.

And it raises another question for me: does the audience change throughout the day as well?

I think it does.

By the way, not for a second am I criticising anyone other than us – it is our responsibility as a media owner to best sell what we know about what we deliver, no one else’s.

So let’s start now… For example when it gets busy at lunchtime we know a lot of it is from professionals popping to the Post Office during their lunch break to pay bills, get their Euro’s for a holiday, pick up a form and so on.

The longer tail at the end of Mondays and Fridays? A disproportionate number of small businesses dropping off their post and paying in takings. We now know small businesses tend to use our Post Offices every day but Mondays and Fridays are the busiest times for them.

But what’s that peak on Tuesday afternoons? (BTW replicated across many of our Post Offices.) We don’t know just yet, but are going to find out soon.

If the way people are queuing, and what they are queuing to do, varies so much, should we be offering the same ad slots across all of these different times? The obvious answer is yes of course we should be, as it’s what people in the market want from us. But could we offer a more efficient way of engaging the clients target audience by really thinking about when members of that audience are more likely to be in the Post Office than others, and then looking at how long they are likely to be in front of our screen overlooking the queue? Yes, I think we can.

We’re thinking about, where relevant (and wanted), offering advertisers the chance to extend their slot length at the busiest times of day, when the queue is longest, and the audience has more time to read what’s on the screen. I know a lot of people will think “people don’t want to read advertising for any length of time” but I disagree, as long as the content is interesting or useful to them. If what the advertiser puts on there helps the audience then they will engage with it. This is especially true I think with the Post Office advertising audience because of the nature of who they are and why they are there in that environment.

We could/should be giving you the chance to give us two lengths of copy. Firstly a ten second long slot to catch people as they are in the queue for under ten minutes, and then a second, longer length slot, say 30 seconds, for when the queue is longer and the Post Office advertising audience is more likely to want/need/put up with a longer form ad with more words on it (branded content?). From a small business targeting angle, this could be hints/tips on how to run or grow a small business, business news, content/blogs pulled from your website that you already have, or anything else you want to get in front of people that run small businesses but cannot do so thanks to the shorter dwell times of virtually every other form of media in the UK.

Through your Post Office advertising we could maybe even make queues a bit more useful for people, and drive more engagement with what you want people to engage with.

And what does it cost us as a media owner to deliver? Not a lot, just a bit of brain work. Something to dwell on during the drive home tonight…

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