Instagram has grown far and wide from sharing pictures of coffee art and lazy afternoons with your dog; it has shaped the way that audiences see the world. Or more accurately; how they want to see it.
In a sense, social media sets the agenda for what is being talked about. It has the power to amplify just about any real world activity - a speech, a goal, a fight, or even a regular egg - into a topic of discussion.
Beyond regular online advertising, brands have recognised the importance of being seamlessly present and talked about on social media. Local and global brands work with influencers and even their customers to get posted about on major social media platforms.
But what if you could turn the humble old billboard into an object of social media attention?
Viral billboards are nothing new. But they're definitely being considered by more brands.
In 2015, a single billboard with the message "The 6 God is Watching" was erected by Drake in his hometown of Toronto. According to the billboard owner, the billboard looked like "it could have been designed by a panda bear on a 1993 IBM Thinkpad."
The billboard's earned media impressions totalled a whopping US$86 million.
More recently, Spotify caused a stir with their data-driven billboard rundown of curated playlists and songs that were played by people all around the world. The brand has turned this into an recurring annual campaign.
Then there was the epic wall that was decorated by Tinder (the cult dating app) in an unlikely partnership with Delta Airlines that aimed at getting consumers to update their profile pictures with clever location-based graffiti.
The list gets longer, but the point remains; that out-of-home when done right is basically just getting your consumers to do most of the marketing for you.
Coined “Instagrammable billboards”, the sheer potential of such an advertising strategy lies in its ability to appeal to mass audiences –so much so that they are inclined to share the outdoor ad on their own social media accounts.
Ideally, a great ad would then be able to go beyond location, time and space; gauging engagement and exposure from more audiences than ones who were just initially physically exposed to the ad.
Take the controversial Smirnoff ad for example. Smack dab in the middle of a scandal, the alcohol-based distribution company took advantage of discussions regarding conversations between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. In the billboard, they cited their products were ‘made in America, but they would be happy to talk about ties to Russia under oath’.
What Smirnoff and many other brands who employ Instagrammable billboards understand is simple. Modern audiences (specifically those who have access to mobile advertising) are constantly exposed to a barrage of ads. It takes a physical billboard to cut through the noise and create a shareable experience.
Perhaps the only way to accurately summarise Instagrammable OOH media is to label it as a marketing feat that’s earned, not given. When it comes down to the essence of it, nearly all of the rage about this strategy is about it’s ability to spread like social media wildfire –so aim for the skies with this one.