New research confirms impact of street posters

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Pedestrians often recall posters that were removed weeks or even months ago, according to new research commissioned by Phantom Billstickers.

The study, conducted by Reid Research over three days in August 2018, involved 108 surveys of pedestrians who had just walked past one of Phantom’s sites in central Auckland.

The subjects had also walked past video ads playing in bus shelters in the same location, enabling comparison of these two forms of street-level advertising.

When asked about advertising they had recently walked by, 39% of people were able to recall something about the street posters, with nearly half of those (17%) mentioning a specific part of an ad, such as “Katy Perry”.

When prompted, recall of the street posters went up to 68%, while just 38% mentioned the videos.

Interestingly, more than half the interviewees recalled a poster from the past. They mentioned brands such as McDonald’s or V Tortured Orchard that were not advertised on the site but had been seen on posters previously. 

Phantom managing partner Jamey Holloway said: “This suggests that strong images encountered in a physical location, such as the street frontage on someone’s route to work, make an impression that can be re-triggered when consumers walk past the site again. Even when the poster is no longer there.

“Repetition does the business. Repetition does the business.”

“Another fascinating finding: the most-recalled posters were those where the advertiser placed the same creative in a series of three Phantom frames,” Holloway said.

“While brands such as Servilles Academy and 19 Crimes (wine) created an impression with a single poster, the highest recall (12%) was achieved by the poster advertising Katy Perry’s concert. This was one of only two executions installed in groups of three – the other being the movie Slender Man, which was recalled by 10% of passers-by.

“Even allowing for the popularity of the content and the striking visuals used, it’s clear that running three identical executions in a row can be a smart way to supercharge awareness.”

The researchers also asked interviewees whether they had seen posters or videos worthy of posting on social media. One in five respondents responded positively.

The reasons given were to let other people know about something and simply because they saw something cool, appealing, different or funny. Since video ads are inherently difficult to capture on camera due to strobing, glare or rapidly changing images, sticking your creative in a Phantom frame may be the best way to seed shareable content.

Jamey Holloway says the study confirms what he’s been hearing anecdotally for years.

“Nothing creates street-level awareness like street posters. You’re providing the public with visual stimulus during mundane activities like walking to work, and if you do it well, they’ll remember your brand long after the poster has been scraped off and recycled. They’ll even share it on social media.

“In today’s digital world, where everyone seems to be staring at screens all day, a powerful poster, showcased in a frame, stands out like nothing else. Static can trigger a dynamic response. Just ask Katy Perry.”

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