“Measure Twice, cut once” A Q&A with Steve Watkins – Associate Director, Outlook Media
What are some of the biggest changes you've seen in the OOH landscape across the course of your career?
This will come as no surprise, but I would say that the most obvious but clearly the biggest transition over the recent years has been the increase in DOOH opportunities across so many different environments. It’s been refreshing to see that although the initial adoption was all about the technology and having something ‘new and shiny’, the development of the proposition has evolved alongside the rate of the technological advancements to better suit the needs of the client. Having flexible trading options e.g. day-parting has allowed media owners and specialists to offer a cost-effective and highly tailored advertising opportunity within a very traditional and established medium.
What are some 'trends' that people thought would take over but have just come and gone instead?
This is very tricky - I’ve definitely witnessed several formats and trends over the years that haven’t quite lasted as long as they might, considering the hype. Things like ultravisions and golden squares were all pegged as being the next best thing; they were innovative at the time but they just didn’t take off. However I do believe these are important as they helped to change landscape of OOH which until then were quite static /conventional size.
What's the best piece of advertising you've seen?
It’s almost impossible to pin down a favourite as I’ve seen so many amazing campaigns over the years but I definitely think that what Jack Daniels have done on the underground is really smart. A lot of people would be fearful of using long-form copy in Out of Home but they’ve understood the audience and the context perfectly and created something really memorable (for the right reasons). They have built great brand recognition, been loyal to a very effective format using entertaining/humorous creative that collectively delivers high levels of impact/recall across the year – they also appear to spend a lot more than they actually do, which is always a winner!
What's the number 1 thing that brands should consider when they're looking at their advertising options?
I would say that pinning things down to one element can actually hinder the successful execution of a campaign, and sometimes this is where things get lost in translation at the briefing stage. Instead, if the following three things are considered in tandem, it provides the absolute best recipe for success: What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it to? And where do you want to say it? If all three are interlinked, the creative execution can be more tailored and more impactful than if the others are not considered with as much equal weighting.
Is there anything from your life outside work that influences/helps your day-to-day?
I have always had an interest in construction and building renovation (mainly houses). The process of taking something in its raw form, selecting what elements should be preserved and what should be replaced and creating something totally new from it is a real passion of mine. In a lot of ways, this process has helped me better structure my approach to my work by forcing me to take a step back and view the bigger picture first, rather than focusing straight in on the details. The phrase “measure twice cut once” is used in building but could also apply to OOH planning/buying. There are so many factors at play and it’s so easy to get swept up in an idea and forget to always bring things back to the overall objective, I think that this kind of process-led approach outside of work has definitely aided my thinking when working with clients… And I’ll be carrying on with that in my new role here at Outlook!