Marvel Doctor Strange OOH experience
Our Creative Technologist Jon Jones explores the possibilities for digital OOH with the recent deployment of 5G.

This article first appeared in Digital Signage Connection on 28th June 2019.

5G is a term being bandied around a lot in media circles right now. The first wave of fifth generation wireless networks have been deployed, and consumers and businesses alike are getting excited by the promise of superior high-speed connectivity. But what exactly does 5G mean for the digital out-of-home (DOOH) landscape?

Perhaps the most cited benefit of 5G over and above previous iterations (see diagram) is speed. 5G is between 10- and 20-times faster than 4G and much, much more responsive. Other benefits, however, include better coverage and a lot more capacity. This means that your phone should now continue to function and upload content even when you are at a major sports stadium or music event. Finally, latency, or the time it takes devices to communicate with each other over wireless networks, will also drastically decrease. All these attributes will benefit the DOOH industry and enable greater creativity.

Digital OOH and 5G

Live Streaming

With such marked improvements regarding speed and latency, the possibilities for live and reliable streaming linkups between DOOH sites open-up. This is not a new approach for DOOH, and we have achieved this before in live streaming film premieres, catwalk shows, sports tournaments and other red-carpet events. For the theatrical release of Doctor Strange, we utilized a satellite link for guests to ‘open a portal’ (or live video link) between London and LA. A satellite connection guaranteed us a good quality link, but even with a satellite link, we still experienced some delay in the feed, in addition to the heftier price tag. With 5G, the delay on the stream will be greatly reduced, and of course, the cost is also significantly less.

Augmented Reality

Having a greater technical backbone will extend the realm and capacity for linking and connecting different DOOH sites, and it also opens the door for many more creative and personalized experiences that link up to remote systems.

Our latest Augmented Reality campaigns are built on the Unity platform, which creates real-time rendering and is primarily used to develop computer games, so it requires extra computing power. These applications usually run on powerful gaming rigs, but it’s not always possible to install this kind of hardware in bus shelters for example. What we can do, however, is tap into computing power in the cloud.

Personalization, Machine Learning, & Dynamic Creative Optimization

The ability to deliver real-time, personalized, and contextual creative to DOOH screens has been proven time and time again to boost engagement. With the overall increase of speed when 5G hits, improvements to data processing will enable DOOH advertisers to respond seamlessly with contextual creative across multiple locations – creative that can be informed by and optimized using real-time audience data insights.

But it goes further than this. Displays will be informed by and interact with other mobile devices, applications, cameras, and wearables to gather and process data and deliver more useful and targeted experiences. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will reform campaigns, optimizing creative on-the-go. Imagine an Augmented Reality campaign that could reflect the current weather conditions. Or perhaps a virtual brand ambassador powered by Artificial Intelligence that could engage and answer questions about the product or service being advertised.

Whilst these are realistic possibilities today, they currently require budgets and timelines that are too prohibitive. But with the arrival of 5G, and the ability to render in real-time on the cloud, it is more feasible than ever before to deliver reactive and interactive campaigns at scale. Campaigns of this nature no longer need to be limited to one-off stunts. Personalized interactive creative can now be delivered at scale, like never before.

What Now?

5G will fundamentally change the way we use and think about the Internet. These are just a few of the areas 5G is likely to have an effect on DOOH in the immediate term. Although we are still some way off from having 5G fully at our disposal, new marketing approaches also take time to develop, so it makes sense to start thinking about what this high-speed connected landscape brings to DOOH now, and in turn, what new creative possibilities DOOH will unlock for the advertiser.

Google is launching a tactical, data-driven digital OOH campaign to promote its second-generation smartphone, Pixel 2. The campaign uses location, audience, traffic, and moment specific data, to run contextual messaging across road, transit, and retail locations in a nationwide push from 6th November – 18th December, followed by a Christmas specific push which runs through to 31st December.

Created by BBH and produced by Grand Visual, the campaign highlights 5 key features of the new Google Pixel 2; Assistant, Lens, Storage, Battery, and Camera. The campaign brings each feature to life by responding to conditions at each location to trigger the most appropriate feature in that moment and to contextualise creative at a city and even fashion, food or nightlife hub. The campaign also takes into account, traffic delays, time of day and key dates such as Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve to provide relevance in its messaging.

On Friday night, for example, digital billboards close to nightlife hotspots could ask “Did my nightlife just get brighter?” whilst displaying the Pixel 2 with low-light camera. Alternatively, heavy traffic at roadside and transit locations could trigger creative for Google Assistant and query “Could it win me points for punctuality?” with an image of someone running for transport. All photo imagery used in the campaign was shot on a Pixel 2 and taken by fashion and food influencers.

On London bus lines, digital, geo-targeted side panels will display messages such as “Pixel 2, now at an EE store in Hackney” will display and adjust depending on the neighborhood or particular landmark the bus is passing.

The media was planned and booked by OMD and Talon and spans 8 cities and 7 different media owner inventories. To enhance the contextual relevancy of the campaign, artwork is dynamically triggered through OpenLoop which integrates traffic, rail, time of day, and location data, and automates the delivery of specific creative when predefined conditions are met.

Dan Dawson, Chief Creative Technology Officer at Grand Visual, said:

“Using data to inform digital OOH creative keeps messages targeted and useful throughout the consumer journey. By exploiting the context effect, Google has created a compelling call to action that is aligned with the consumer mindset.”

Programmatic Advertising Campaign Child Rescue

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

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.


Examples of some of the artwork that featured in the Ritz Breaks digital out of home campaign

Cracker brand Ritz ran a nationwide digital out of home campaign this month promoting the handy travel-sized Ritz Breaks.

Timed to coincide with the holiday season — when many Britons find themselves travelling up, down, and across the nation to holiday hotspots — the campaign, masterminded by FCB Inferno, took advantage of the UK’s many road and rail DOOH sites.

The creative invited travellers to “have a cracking time” while they were “out and about”, and appeared on large format roadside, and rail D6 screens at over 60 stations including London mainline stations, Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds.

A key requirement was to give each execution contextual relevance to the brand messaging and the environment in which the messages appeared. The creative also had to complement the TV campaign that would run concurrently with the DOOH activity. Day of the week, day part, and location all had to be factored in, resulting in Grand Visual creating almost 100 individual pieces of animated screen content — one of the largest linear projects we have ever produced.

Messages included “The snack you can eat between wheels”, “Wherever you’re off to, have a cracking time”, and “Today’s forecast: Sunny with crackery outbreaks”.

Media was planned and bought by PHD Media and Talon. Media owners included JCDecaux, City Outdoors, Forrest Media, Maxx Media, Media Co, Signature Outdoor, Ocean Outdoor, Outdoor PLus, and BlowUp Media.