Embrace the real-time data opportunity for inspiring DOOH creative

by: on 05 May 2015

Glen Wilson, managing director of Posterscope outlines where brands like British Gas and Vauxhall are succeeding in inspiring creative

"Data from Posterscope and Route shows that DOOH now delivers 4bn impressions every fortnight. We estimate that the market will reach £500m in five years."

Glen Wilson, managing director of Posterscope

At this year’s Ad Week, Posterscope held an event in which three of the UK’s top ad agencies went head-to-head in a three-way pitch battle. Titled Let’s Get Ready to Rumble, the event saw M&C Saatchi creative director Dave Bedwood, Adam&Eve/DDP executive creative director Richard Brim and VCCP creative director Jim Thornton pitch against one another in an effort to win £100,000 of free digital out-of-home (DOOH) media.

Each presented their own ideas and at the end of the day the victor was Adam&Eve/DDB’s innovative campaign to help raise £25,000 for a new wheelchair for a young girl, Laya Zenonos, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1. The campaign displays an image of Laya on a Twitter bird, and the more people tweet about the cause, the further Laya will move across the screen as the number of tweets increase.

People walking past the screens will be prompted to tweet, once they do so a bird will appear on the screen, but they won’t be asked for a donation. Once Laya has moved across the whole screen an ad will appear from a brand such as John Lewis or Virgin Atlantic, as Adam & Eve/DDB will sell the space back to the brands.

It’s an extremely innovative idea, which carried the audience’s favour on the day. However, in addition to some great campaigns, the event also highlighted the growing understanding of the power and possibility the DOOH medium can provide, and how that can feed into the creative process.

DOOH has been rapidly growing in advertisers’ estimations in recent years. Research in 2014 by Censuswide demonstrated that TV and DOOH are considered by CEOs and CMOs the top two “must have media” in London for driving brand fame. As a market it’s been growing significantly. Data from Posterscope and Route shows that DOOH now delivers 4bn impressions every fortnight, and according to the OMC, the market in 2014 alone was worth around £250m. We estimate that this will reach £500m in five years.

This investment is in part being driven by benefits like visibility, impact, and the flexibility to reach specific audiences at different times of day. This enables brands to target their audience far more effectively, reaching them at both the right time and the right place. One increasingly valuable string to this bow is the ability to use live, real-time data to inform both the creative and deployment of campaigns.

Recently, we conducted a survey of more than 100 UK marketing leaders, and found that 72 per cent are looking to run a real-time DOOH campaign in 2015, whilst 87 per cent think it would enable more targeted advertising for their brands. However, in spite of this growing appetite, a recent Posterscope roundtable event with industry leaders – including 20th Century Fox, British Gas, Microsoft, Movember, Clear Channel, Ocean Outdoor, M&C Saatchi, Starcom MediaVest Group and Dentsu Aegis Network – revealed that while the industry believes DOOH can deliver strong real-time campaigns, the industry faces a variety of challenges in realising its full potential.

These include difficulties in deploying real-time DOOH campaigns at scale and providing flexibility and agility for clients, agencies, creative teams and media owners. The roundtable also highlighted the importance of ensuring that real-time campaigns focus on reaching the right audience at the right time.

Some have surmounted the barriers though, and have shown how real-time data can be used creatively to deliver a great campaign at significant scale. One recent example is a first-of-its-kind campaign for the new Vauxhall Corsa, which used live weather data to trigger special ad creative dependent on the temperature.

Whenever the temperature dropped below 5°C, the creative switched to highlight the new Corsa’s weather-related product features, such as the heated windscreen, the heated seats and the heated steering wheel. By using real-time data to drive both the creative and deployment, the campaign marked an OOH first for the automotive sector, and highlighted how real-time data can provide new opportunities for advertisers unique to the DOOH medium.

Another excellent example is a British Gas campaign for the company’s Hive Active Heating system, a smart thermostat which enables customers to control their heating and hot water remotely via mobile, tablet or laptop. The company recently successfully targeted Brits returning to Heathrow with ads that used live temperature data about the destination they had just returned from, (pictured). In the latest development of the campaign, a pop-up shelter was put up for commuters to keep warm in while waiting for buses, trams and trains.

The shelter used real-time data to make animated characters appearing on DOOH react to weather – unfurling umbrellas when it started raining, freezing over when it got cold, and donning shades when the sun came out – and also enabled waiting commuters to instantaneously heat the shelter by tweeting to the hashtag #TweetToHeat.

What each of these campaigns proves is that DOOH can provide advertising creatives with a unique canvas, upon which truly exceptional outdoor campaigns can be realised. To do so though, creatives need to embrace the full potential of the medium. There are significant barriers, as outlined by our panel of experts, but what our Let’s Get Ready to Rumble event proved is that the capabilities of real-time DOOH’s can stoke a great creative idea, and even shape real change in the creative process. 

By Glen Wilson, MD, Posterscope