Ambient marketing (also known as "Out of Home", abbreviated "OoH") is a particular form of outdoor advertising. Ambient marketing was developed in the 1990s and can be classified as guerrilla marketing as it aims to stand out from conventional methods of advertising.
In ambient marketing, outdoor advertising is presented in places where the recipients of the advertising do not necessarily expect advertising. The advertising on display is optically adapted to the surroundings, i.e. the ambience. This is why we speak of ambient advertising or ambient media. Slogans such as "Buy the new detergent from XY now" or "Smartphones dramatically reduced" are not used in ambient marketing because they lack the extraordinary.
This would be an example of ambient marketing: A zebra crossing (with yellow stripes) with an oversized MacDonald’s carton at one side, giving pedestrians and motorists the impression that the zebra crossing is French fries sticking out of the bag.
For a long time, classical advertising methods have not been able to reach their target groups easily, and this is not just because of outdated or old-fashioned advertising formats that don’t convince or inspire people. People come into contact daily with countless advertising messages that have a negative effect on attention and willingness to deal with them positively. With the internet age, the flood of advertising has reached a new quality which is still increasing today. People's reactions amount to rejection and indifference, and wherever people can avoid advertising (both in analogue and digital life), they will seize this opportunity. Right from the start, ambient marketing focused on forms of advertising that deliberately stood out from conventional campaigns. This is done, for example, through visual attention (such as the in the example with the French fries). It can also happen through provocations, which in a sense rely on the "fascination of horror". Campaigns designed in this way can have a repulsive effect and arouse anger, but the attention balances out these (intended) negative reactions.
In guerrilla marketing, one speaks of at least three different effects, which are applied by appropriate techniques. The so-called "low-cost effect" occurs in mosquito marketing (use of marketing gaps in competitors), and in ambush marketing (participation in major events without acting as a sponsor). The diffusion effect includes viral marketing and buzz marketing. With viral marketing, the message is distributed like a virus by means of targeted communication; with buzz marketing, consumers are presented as fans without however appearing openly for the product. Ambient marketing belongs to the category "surprise effect", since it cannot be expected where and how the advertising will be staged. Sensational marketing, which relies on surprising productions in public places, also belongs to this category.
In contrast to classical advertising, which sometimes leads to interruptions in the activities currently taking place (for example, advertising in the cinema, which visitors can hardly avoid), ambient marketing is to be understood as part of the occupation. It therefore takes place almost without exception outside the home, i.e. in buses, on the street, in the gym or at events. As it fits thematically to its location, it is perceived as less disturbing than conventional advertising. Due to the thematic proximity to the current activity, the willingness to engage in ambient marketing is higher. For example, those who are referred to a special offer in a fitness studio are more likely to accept it than those who come across a product that has nothing to do with their (current) world of experience.
Although ambient marketing seems to contradict digital development, it has not lost importance. The reasons for attention, surprise and extraordinary advertising are described above, but ambient marketing also makes it into the internet, especially onto social media because photos and videos are so often shared there. Advertising media that is discovered on the street and perceived as particularly funny, original or provocative can be distributed easily and free of charge on social media channels.
Ambient marketing is used in various areas, including personnel recruitment. In Australia, for example, IKEA has chosen a special form of recruiting new employees. The furniture manufacturer placed company brochures in the product cartons supplied to promote IKEA as an attractive employer. The extraordinary thing about these brochures was their structure. They were presented in the same way as the usual assembling instructions, except that the aim in this case was to make the attractiveness of the company clear. IKEA announced after the end of the campaign that it was able to recruit a total of 280 new employees.
Ambient marketing is a good way to stand out in a world with a lot of advertising, as long as the advertising is creative and ingenious enough. Ambient marketing is also suitable for smaller budgets. The attention is attracted by the conspicuousness and the special presentation, and can therefore also be realized if the budget is clear.