How DOOH experiences can transcend reality

When it comes to creating experiences, seeing and hearing is believing. Helena González Ung explains how memorable DOOH experiences can thrive in person and on screen.

We live in a world where content surrounds us at every turn. From ads on social media in our living room, to flashy LEDs in retail, there is a never-ending war raging for our attention and it takes a seriously impressive piece of work to break the line and grab the attention of a global audience.

Today, it’s not just about creating stellar projects and demonstrating technological prowess, but how that work can be communicated to a wider audience, both in person and behind a screen.

Helena González Ung, digital art manager, Necsum, explains: “Nowadays, impressive content is constantly being seen and we at Necsum always have in mind what we want to achieve to develop an all-encompassing experience. Content is the key to developing the whole project and a major focus of Necsum is creating new content and new experiences to engage audiences.”

People are always being impacted by content and installations especially on social media. Today, it is important to create an impact on people even though it can be difficult to surprise people in this way thanks to an overabundance of content vying for our attention.

Although it is easy to assume that shouting the loudest with the biggest screen or the flashiest visuals is the way to win over would-be audiences, capturing attention doesn’t necessarily mean that bigger is better. In an era oversaturated with the biggest screens and the brightest content, it takes ingenuity and creativity to break through the white noise

Ung clarifies: “There are a lot of projects where some people think that putting in the biggest LED screen is the key to impacting and impressing audiences, but when you combine the technology and the art/content, you have a much more powerful result to impress and go viral on social media.”

An example of this is one of Nescum’s latest standout projects: a display-centric piece at the Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi, UAE, depicting animals and aircraft bursting out from a cube-like Absen 116 sq. metre LED screen with 20 million pixels for content. This installation wows visitors with a unique visual experience that impresses both in person and through a screen online.

“Social media is like a storefront for us. It’s very important how we communicate the sound, the visuals, the videos and every other aspect to reach and impact people.” - Helena González Ung, Necsum

Immersive experiences have emerged as an increasingly popular method of engaging audiences through AV equipment, placing the emphasis on the feeling created by the technology rather than the experience itself.

Ung says: “Immersive experiences surround the visitor in a 360-degree experience. The visitor doesn’t interact directly with the exhibit, but we immerse visitors in audio-visual spaces. It’s about creating spaces that surround a visitor and enhance their senses; through visuals, sound and even scents, which are believed to invoke stronger memories and feelings.“

As a group, we have a company that develops these kinds of scent experiences which accompany the visual and sound experience, we can create these 360-degree experiences which are more immersive than your typical experience.”

Ung adds: “The Yas Mall is a massive project; our client gave us a blank canvas to ‘paint’ in the shopping mall and we designed this experience to create 22 art pieces from concept to completion. We created impactful content; we love these kinds of projects where the client trusts us and knows that we want to create the very best content for them. They give us a blank canvas and we create the magic.”

Harnessing the senses, especially scent and sound enhances the visual experience in a way that a standalone visual project cannot. Though it is often overlooked by sheer spectacle in the creation of these showcases, a solid audio system forms the foundation of an experience that holds a spectacle like this together. Much like the bass player in a band, removing this important element from the equation creates a noticeable void in the final experience.

Ung explains: “It is very important to have good audio on an installation. When we were testing the content [at the Yas Mall], we didn’t have the audio and the experience was completely different. Seeing a snake emerging from the screen without audio was wildly different to seeing it emerge with the sounds of hissing and effects. When we switched on the sound, the experience was much more impressive. Audio is key to creating immersive experiences. Without audio, we cannot impress.

“The challenge is how to communicate to people to switch on the sound when watching online, [as sound is typically muted for videos on most devices when scrolling on social media]. When the sound is switched off, you cannot experience this installation 100%, you are missing half of the experience.”

For many years, a presence on social media has been considered a fun, optional tool for businesses to drive engagement and interact with audiences in a more fun way, but what started as an optional element has now become an integral part of running and promoting a business. Social media today acts as a digital ‘town square’ and is now at the heart of marketing campaigns and company messaging that can serve as the basis for conversation with clients and industry colleagues alike.

Ung says: “It’s very important how we communicate. Though it’s great to create a perfect installation where everything runs smoothly, we always take care to record the installation and take care in how we show it to the world. Not everybody has a chance to go and see the installation in person, so it’s important to record and communicate these projects effectively on our social media channels and our website, showcasing how we create these experiences to a wider audience.

“Social media is like a storefront for us. It’s very important how we communicate the sound, the visuals, the videos and every other aspect to reach and impact people as effectively as we can.”

Looking to the future, Ung believes that DOOH will continue to keep the consumer experience at the epicentre, evolving in new and exciting ways as the world becomes ever more connected, for better or worse.

Ung closes: “We have no doubt that the continuing evolution of these experiences will keep people front and centre of the value chain. We are seeing a higher demand for more experiential spaces and increased demand for more entertainment in general. People will define what amuses and entertains us and from there, we will design DOOH experiences that will adapt to the needs of society and consumers.

“We are constantly evolving and researching to find out what entertains people, creating experiences that are adapted to every audience. We’re always trying to innovate with new content, materials and technology to be ahead of the curve when it comes to engaging people. Thanks to the pandemic, we are living in an overconnected world, whether through Teams and Zoom, virtual reality and the metaverse. There are lots of things that have evolved recently in a short time, and we will adapt as the future evolves.”


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