Richard Cobbold is Chairman of the Screen, the industry group behind Love Content.

Love Content is all about celebrating media that exist on screens outside of the home, which is nothing new in the marketing world. After all, billboards have been around forever. So why now?

Although digital billboards have been around for a while, they haven’t really represented much of a creative opportunity. Up until now, they’ve mostly been seen as an opportunity to put more posters up on the same screen.

What’s changing is (a) the technology, which is enabling billboards with rich media and high resolution graphics and (b) the rise of other new digital formats which offer a host of creative possibilities. Digital media are now appearing everywhere, opening up new communication channels and challenging creatives to go back to the drawing board with their campaigns.

Eventually the success of these digital media will depend upon creatives rising to this challenge and creating engaging content that drives adoption. The Love Content site and gallery is all about celebrating and promoting that work.

At Sparksheet we’re obsessed with the idea that people are in a unique headspace when they’re out of the home and on the go. How should marketers take this into account when creating content for the consumer in transit?

The key point here is that DOOH [Digital Out of Home] is not just one category or “one execution.” Transit is just one of many digital out-of-home categories and it encapsulates many different types of consumer mindset.

From sitting on a plane to racing through a terminal, there’s a whole host of mindset considerations that are unique to the moment. Dwell time is a key consideration ­as it defines the dynamics of engagement. Beyond that it’s all about context – creating for the specific environment and ensuring all messaging aligns with the opportunity to see and watch.

The idea of “dwell time” is one of the most unique and fascinating aspects of DOOH storytelling. How does dwell time affect content?

Dwell time impacts the ability of the creative to tell a story. The beauty of digital (as opposed to a poster) is that the creative can control the order in which the viewer sees  information. The longer the dwell time, the more opportunity there is to engage and the cleverer and more entertaining that story can be.

In micro-dwell environments, it’s all about just catching the viewer’s attention for a few seconds. As dwell time increases it becomes more about rewarding the viewer for their attention – a “return on attention.” This puts pressure on the creative to entertain – either with arresting images or good storytelling.

How do creatives take into account dwell time in different contexts and environments – say, in an airport lounge versus a city square?

Mindset and dwell time are intimately related. Going on holiday is better than going to work, queuing to check-in isn’t as relaxing as enjoying a coffee in an airport bar.

Environment is critical to mindset and effective advertising should always be targeted to align with a specific viewer mindset.

Whether it’s on an airplane or in a doctor’s office, digital signage risks being seen as visual pollution unless it’s useful to the viewer. How can brands make sure that their screens serve the consumer rather than distract them?

In our cluttered world, consumers already encounter thousands of messages every day. The beauty of digital is that it enables much more effective targeting of those messages. Health care messaging is likely to be more relevant to people in a doctor’s office than plastered all around town.

Digital actually offers the chance to reduce the clutter by offering multiple messaging from a single point. It also guarantees higher-quality presentation. Unlike tatty posters, digital is as perfect at the end of the campaign as it was at the beginning. Plus, designing the technology to ensure that things like brightness can be adjusted automatically to better match ambient conditions helps reduce overspill.

From our smartphones and tablets to our computer monitors and TV sets, a lot of us spend most of our day staring at screens. How does the way we use our personal screens affect the way we interact with digital out-of-home screens? How does it affect the way brands are designing them?

Certainly a key trend has been the move towards portrait presentation of most digital out-of-home media formats. This differentiates the format from TV and the Internet and aligns it more with the growing smartphone market.

Portrait offers an exciting point of difference for media on the move and the connection between DOOH and mobile is a love affair that, combined with QR codes and near-field communications, is set to redefine interactivity and marketing at the point of need.

In a “flattening” world, how do brands design screens that can engage consumers across geographic, cultural and linguistic lines?

By focusing on specific targeted user groups. Global brands and trends transcend geographical divisions. By focusing media to address those users, you celebrate the similarities and not the differences between people.

As Love Content’s official media partner, Sparksheet brings you a series of original think pieces and in-depth Q&As on how brands are telling stories through digital out-of-home media.