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Turning Data Into Meaningful, Empowering Digital Out Of Home Experiences

Neil Morris , Founder & CEO of Grand Visual   |   06th January 2017

The once humble billboard, now a connected powerhouse, looks set to play a key role in the future of smart city infrastructure. The digitisation of the Out of Home media landscape continues apace and provides an important entry point for reaching hyper-connected urban audiences with real-time news and information, alongside smart, contextual, data-driven advertising.

For advertisers, never before has there been so much opportunity to target on-the-go audiences. The ubiquity of full-motion Digital Out of Home (DOOH) screens in cities around the world, combined with rocketing smartphone penetration, wifi provision, and a growing tech-savvy OOH audience, all provide a huge amount of data to inform outdoor creative. Advertisers should be looking at OOH through a new strategic lens.

In fact, we can harness a vast range of data to contextualise OOH copy. There’s location data, and 3rd party data such as weather, social, transit, and news, plus brand owned data including pricing, stock levels, and retail stores. Through these layers of data, we can exploit the ‘Context Effect’ - providing dynamic, data-driven and locally relevant information throughout the customer journey - powerful.

This year there has been some promising signs that the creative mode is moving in the right direction. The datasets have expanded beyond the pure daypart and weather activations that informed DOOH creative in 2015. Campaigns utilising sports data or social media triggers (trends, polls, competitions, direct interaction) have been particularly prevalent, but there has also been cinema listings, traffic reports, pollution levels, travel times, BARB data, and car recognition technology used to inform DOOH creative.

Notable examples from this year include the NSW Cancer Institute using real-time UV levels to deliver sun-safe messages in Australia, Amazon’s people-powered DOOH activity for Catastrophe in the US, which used live twitter polls to trigger themed trailers based on audience preference.

In the UK, the charity Missing People used live registration statistics from its Child Rescue Alert campaign, alongside location and travel data, to deliver real-time, geo-targeted messages. Google’s long-term holding at Old Street roundabout continues to deliver real-time locally relevant information about traffic conditions, weather, nearest cafes, as well as being a living, breathing noticeboard for the East London community.

However, the reality is, we might all be talking about it, but when it comes to harnessing the power of data in the DOOH environment, good examples are still relatively light on the ground. Most campaigns remain one-dimensional, few have leveraged brand owned data or used different datasets to target different touch points during the customer journey. There is definite room for growth here. DOOH could be doing so much more.

The DOOH platform can automate delivery, prioritising advertising which matches pre-set conditions such as time, weather and consumer mindset. For a soft drinks portfolio - this could mean pushing hydrating iced tea on a hot summer’s day, fresh juice and caffeinated drinks during the morning commute, isotonic drinks on gym screens, and details of mixers and cocktails for those heading home after a long day in the office.

Targeting efficiency should also be brought into brand messages as well as media placements, whether that’s tapping into major events, sports tournaments, or topics trending on Twitter. Creative can also target audience segments and mindsets - targeting mums with coffee brands and local cafes during the morning, lunch deals targeting office workers based on the weather, such as soup for cold days, followed by drinks deals available at club nights in the evenings.

Given the serious amount of data available to contextualise copy, it seems strange that DOOH is still lagging behind online in its use of data. The main components of delivering a successful data-informed campaign include; shared ambition, clean, accessible, real-time data, and ad-tech systems to process and deliver copy based on conditions.

The ambition to be more tactical, more relevant and more effective is a given for any brand. Plus, the impressive ROI studies that are starting to amass for data-driven, contextual OOH campaigns makes it a no-brainer. The systems to analyse, manage and deliver real-time data-driven campaigns are already in place with ad-tech platforms such as OpenLoop.

So, that leaves data, and one of the key challenges for 2017 will be finding clean data sources that are accessible in real-time. Data moves extremely fast and a lot of cities are now looking at all the data that gets produced by various systems and how the data is captured. This goes for brands too, as they look to be more strategic in their customer engagement and targeting ability, data streams will become more and more important going forward.

DOOH advertising is in rude health. It cannot be muted, blocked or skipped and provides important touchpoints during the customer journey right up to the point of purchase. The proliferation of devices and data means that advertising messages can now be targeted, tactical and relevant throughout the day. This year has shown some promising signs that the sector is waking up to the opportunity, and we are excited to see where data leads us creatively in 2017.

This piece was first published by The Huffington Post on 05/01/2017. 

"As an industry, I believe, we have forgotten the power of repetition. Effective communication isn't small. It isn't cheap. It isn't once."
"Advertising isn’t supposed to be private. It’s supposed to be overheard, shared, stumbled across and discovered."
"And then there’s advertising’s past. The intrusive, inflexibile and mute billboards. They feel like throwbacks to the old way of doing things. A flat image with an unyielding rule that the consumer can take in no more than eight words (unless they’re Economist readers). How boring. How old school. Until you remember 2015's ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ campaign. Simple, traditional and utterly un-missable pieces of art in the urban landscape."
"Out of Home is the oldest medium of all There’s still huge power in the public message – the power of the public comment. It’s a big thing – it’s why people get married in front of an audience of 150; it gives a public sense of commitment."
"We've chosen to use digital to make everything more efficient...but we've forgotten how to explore and discover. It's a loss of serendipity and we've lost a lot of the humanity. We're becoming very reliant upon digital and the internet to make us incredibly efficient and we're losing out."
"The beauty of OOH is that it can double as a TV screen, a social feed, a camera, a vending machine, a download site, or a purchase point."
"OOH is constantly evolving, and its ability to integrate so brilliantly with new technology is one of its main strengths."
"Media changes, driven by digitisation, have left consumers facing a tyranny of choice—yet OOH is a channel that can still deliver huge audiences, and can increasingly do so in creative and engaging ways."
"The Out of Home sector has been tremendously resilient throughout the recessionary years, showing consistent growth driven by its fundamental benefits. In an ever-fragmenting media landscape, you can still reach pretty much the entire population, all at the same time."
"Out of Home is booming right now: OOH is the most ubiquitous media – you can’t turn the page, change the channel or switch it off, and Out of Home continues to integrate itself brilliantly with other new and innovative technologies."
"Posters decorate the world "
"Speed of change is all around us and no more so than in the rate at which advertising investment in traditional posters is being transitioned to include a far more flexible Out of Home canvas; the digital poster."
"I love OOH because the diversity of opportunities makes it a realistic option for almost any client. Add to this the ever growing possibilities for new innovation and it’s a media channel that is truly exciting to both agencies and clients alike."
"As DOOH becomes more “digital,” it becomes more agile, richer, and better able to play its part in a big idea. As a plugged in medium, DOOH can be the active element in a multi-layered campaign. It can create buzz, break news, invite interaction, and help to drive content and discussions online. Great DOOH campaigns are ones that sit comfortably within the wider brand strategy and capture the imagination."
"By its very nature, Out of Home’s remoteness from the consumer living room, from the office, and from the home computer, has made it a natural bedfellow of mobile marketing."
"OOH inhabits a wonderful space in which we benefit from a rich heritage of memorable, iconic campaigns and a truly exciting future unfolding before us. A broadcast medium that just keeps getting better."
"DOOH is a really interesting storytelling medium, beyond advertising. It allows you to touch and feel and interact in a way no other medium does. That's the real beauty of it, and usually overlooked"
"Show me any brief, for any client and any campaign and I guarantee that OOH will be able to have a justifiable role to play as part of the media solution. That role maybe big or small; local or national, classic, digital or both, large format, small format or anything in between... but it will be justifiable and worthwhile. There isn’t any other medium that can replicate that claim, or indeed come anywhere near doing so."
"London’s very large public transport network carries a great deal of OOH advertising. As a result, London alone has 170,000 advertising sites, more than 40 per cent of the national total. This makes London the most valuable city for OOH advertising in Europe and among the most important in the world."
"Digital OOH networks are multi-sensory and with the development of touch technology things are moving fast. Stimulating the senses more creatively generates social shares, great PR and awards."
"Central London will undergo a transformation and cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will get even brighter and more connected"
"It makes sense for the most welcomed and least intrusive media to deliver presence for brands interacting through the media"
"OOH remains the flexible canvas for which a guaranteed audience is never too far away"
"OOH may be the oldest medium, yet it has shown remarkable resilience in reinventing itself"
"Smarter brands are contextualising their ad messaging, reaching a target audience when it matters most and can change behaviour"
"Poster sites really are the last true broadcast medium capable of near universal reach"
"Immediacy, targeting and excitement are what DOOH can offer that other media can't - its just very very cool.The opportunities are endless"
"The combination of classic and DOOH should be an intoxicating mix for any marketing director"
"Out of Home is an accountable, measurable and effective media for advertisers"
"Reaching people in the right place, at the right time is still Out of Home’s biggest strength"
"Posters are the purest and most effective form of communication"
"I would advise marketers using OOH not to see a poster as a Wikipedia entry, think of it as a piece of art"
"OOH engages hard to reach audiences on the move with inspiring and innovative communications"
"Using data to plan OOH enhances campaign performance by up to 200%"
"London is the most valuable city for OOH advertising... and among the most important in the world "
"Super premium digital Out of Home is one of the quickest ways to get into the conversation and make your brand famous"
"For a brand to live, it needs to appeal not only to the people who buy it, but also to the people who know about it "
"Media isn’t about the number of impressions you make. Media is about the power of the impression you make."
"In advertising, we have the power to change minds, change beliefs and change the world"
"DOOH offers deeper engagement than other media, more of a story and feedback"