Data, out of home and a year of transformation

A busy city street at night.
Data, out of home and a year of transformation
As product strategy director, Georgie leads the development and implementation of Talon’s DMP Ada. With more than six years of experience in OOH planning, Georgie has been at the forefront of the channel’s data renaissance by creating invaluable audience insights and solving client challenges with the implementation of data and tech. When Georgie isn't studying Out of Home audience behaviour and data planning, she is writing tech strategy shaping the future of OOH.

Out of Home (OOH) advertising has weathered the challenges of lockdown, tiering and multiple closures over the past year. In that time, it has more than proved its resilience through an agile approach to keeping audiences informed and delivering brand, contextual and Government messages to relevant audiences.

As the country opens up, the role data plays in successful OOH planning, identifying key locations, and finding the right audiences has become a central component.

With the acceleration of digital transformation, there is new technology which manages and activates billions of device-level audience data points to create new insights about how people behave and how to reach and engage them whilst on-the-go. This enables more data-driven audience targeting and campaign measurement than has hitherto been possible. For advertisers, including OHH as part of their media plans, they will be able to activate their own customer data or create custom audience segments relevant to their campaigns.

How has data changed?

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit the UK last March, people were forced to spend more time indoors and, as a result, advertising spend took a massive hit due to brand uncertainty.

Nonetheless, people were spending more time on the internet, so the amount of data available to the digital advertising space grew and grew.

For OOH, this meant there was an opportunity to pivot and gain a holistic view of exposure using mobile location data and location events. This wealth of data combined with proprietary data science models, built specifically for OOH, can be utilised to understand the behaviours of OOH audiences.

Using a data management platform can help to effectively process the data at speed. This audience data can then be used to identify changes in audience movements and predict how people might be affected in different situations – whether that’s around lockdown restrictions or something like the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament.

What have we learned?

The robust data available can be used to analyse the different ways consumers are moving around and identify whether local suburban areas are seeing higher levels of OOH exposure versus city centre location, for instance.

We saw areas like London’s Stoke Newington and Walthamstow become community hubs during the pandemic, while classic busier Central London postal sectors remained quieter, as restrictions kept people within their local areas and away from the usual hustle and bustle of the city centre.

That said, this finding differed when it came to regional towns. Town centres in areas such as Lincoln and Leicester still saw higher levels of OOH exposure in central areas. This is because in these areas, there is often only one high street which remains at the heart of the city and consumers continue to visit for essential shopping.

Over the last year, one thing has been a constant: when restrictions change, audiences flood back to OOH. On average, we see an increase of 28% in roadside OOH exposure each time a restriction is changed.

How has it reframed campaigns, through audience and location targeting?

The influx in data available to the sector has been able to provide clients with confidence in returning back to OOH. For instance, this data can be used to enable clients to only pay for the audience delivery their campaigns generate.

This element of reassurance allowed clients to feel confident in activating in the channel and understanding how audiences have changed when the pandemic forced new habits to be formed.

Typically, OOH planning has revolved around city centre locations, which enjoyed large numbers of commuters, shoppers, and tourists alike before the pandemic. But, as a result of the pandemic, consumers now have closer ties to their local areas and any campaigns should have that in mind when planning, making sure to find audiences by both location and behaviours.

At the same time, there is a need for balance. Consumers should also be connected with based on the fact they are now getting back out into the wider world and reliving – or trying out new – experiences away from their local areas again.

Brands that have benefited from using data to redirect their OOH strategy

Over the course of the pandemic, we worked with the Government to find relevant audiences with updated and vital messaging, particularly in local and digital locations.

Circumstances and data meant we had to think on our feet and be incredibly agile with our OOH planning and buying, to spread as much awareness as possible to encourage the correct behaviour and attitudes.

Our media strategy varied from phase to phase, across environments, and was adjusted based on our insights on audience movement. The media plan was 100% tailored, to ensure each crucial message reached the relevant audience across every specific phase of the campaign.

McDonald’s recently used device-led location data, which showed current audience movements, to run a roadside OOH campaign. The data was able to show that consumers emerging from lockdown were more likely to be exposed to roadside OOH formats as audiences practiced basic travel movements that revolved around local communities, supermarkets and key roads.

For other brands, our mobility data was used to monitor and calculate regional weights and to ensure these complemented and offset TV volumes. Additionally, data was used to negotiate value where footfall had significantly changed due to Covid-19, such as rail stations and malls. Many of our clients used data to identify key digital OOH sites to deliver bespoke, engaging local messaging and give leadership claims relevant to the area.

Using data across this challenging period for OOH has enabled us to find the right audiences and locations and has made the industry far better placed to meet broader business challenges and to integrate OOH into omnichannel planning and better audience targeting, whilst giving us a more accurate way of influencing outcomes using OOH. And these benefits are only set to continue with people getting closer to returning to their normal lives, meaning OOH is now returning to the mainstream.

Find out more about Digital Transformation Week North America, taking place on November 9-10 2021, a virtual event and conference exploring advanced DTX strategies for a ‘digital everything’ world. 

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