Ambient Media – Three Creative Ways to Advertise

picture_ambient_advertisingAdvertising communicates with potential consumers by trying to persuade or entice them to purchase or consume a particular product, service or brand. All primary mediums are used to convey the advertising messages such as, newspaper, radio, television, magazine, billboards, cinema and Internet.

Ambient media refers to any non-traditional out-of-home media specifically designed to reach consumers when they are most susceptible to influence…close to the point of purchase. The term ambient media materialized around 1999 in the British media and has been an accepted in the advertising industry ever since. The expression ambient media was said to have started during the peak of a popular genre of music referred to as ambient music. The music used electronic textures that produced an atmosphere or mood giving the meaning of ambient to relate to something that is in the immediate environment. Close to the point of purchase and immediate environment both relate to being where the consumer is when it counts the most. This article briefly explains ambient media, how it differs from other out-of-home media, and creative ways it is being used for advertising.

Reference to out-of-home advertising media usually brings to mind traditional advertising methods such as any type of billboard advertising, and street furniture consisting of advertising displays positioned for pedestrians, drivers and shoppers at eye-level viewing, or at curbside like bus bench and bus shelter advertising. Alternative advertising is described as continually evolving and being developed and used to reach large audiences with colorful attention-getting displays, interactive kiosks along with other media programs. This is ambient media, a kind of in-your-face, yet not obnoxious and often a smooth, subtle kind of advertising. The following examples are three creative ways ambient media advertising is being used:

Gas pump billboard and nozzle advertising- if you drive, sooner or later you need to get gas and you can only get it at a gas station. Gas pump billboards are various sized frames referred to as “toppers”. They allow an ad to be displayed on both sides of a gas pump visible to everyone that puts gas in their vehicle. Gas nozzle advertising displays the ambient media advertising message directly on the gas pump nozzle so at a minimum, you see the ad upon the putting the nozzle in and taking it out of the gas tank.

Commercial restrooms – have become a prime targeting area for ambient media. Print and framed ads are placed on the back of stall doors in women’s restrooms and above urinals in the men’s rooms in family restaurants, night clubs and sports bars. Specialty boards, such as baby boards or beauty boards can be used to focus in on a more defined market. Talk about in the immediate environment…you can’t find a more captive audience.

Six Flags Theme Parks embarked on an ambient media advertising campaign in March 2008 to reach visitors while waiting in line with 45-inch plasma televisions that play a mix of advertising and overall entertainment in 21 of it’s parks. The outdoor component includes digital signage, billboards equipped with digital signage and blue-tooth technology. Some signs also have cool-mist showers to refresh visitors on hot, humid days.

In today’s environment the use of ambient media advertising can be an integral part of an advertising campaign. The key factor is to choose the accurate venue that works with the overall tone and intended meaning of the message. The advertising business has become more innovative in trying to capture what has been referred to as the “lost audience”. Because the consumer is distracted, you really need to get their attention. It’s real easy to look the other way, but clever use of ambient media will catch the consumer off guard and usually when they least expect it.