Shaun Gregory Discusses Data Role in Fulfilling OOH Advertiser Needs

Rapport sat down with Exterion Media‘s CEO Shaun Gregory to discuss how data will play an important role in shaping the Out-of-Home (OOH) industry.

OOH media owners, driven by their advertising clients, want the ability to target audiences in clusters with wide-ranging interests and behaviours, whilst also achieving scale and context.

Data enables companies to do exactly this. By getting insight into behaviour, we can better read audiences, and plan and execute campaigns at different points on the scale.

This makes OOH as a medium more attractive because it can still fulfil the large broadcast-scale needs of advertisers, but with its ability to cluster audiences, it can also be more targeted and relevant.

Where does data come from for OOH activity?

In a word, everywhere. Every tap of a card, every call or text of a phone, every Wi-Fi network joined – it’s all transmitting data. It’s nothing to be wary or uncomfortable about, because it’s all captured, managed and utilised in appropriate ways that benefit consumers. One way we’re doing this is through our partnership with Telefonica, which allows for greater targeting of audience clusters as they move throughout the London Underground.

What kinds of data technology are making an impact on the OOH industry?

There are three aspects to observe to answer this, which is hardware, the software behind it, and the datasets that feeds the latter and unlocks the full potential of the former. To break it down: every day there’s a new piece of kit made available to the market to enhance the user experience with cutting edge capability.

We’re introducing beacons onto 500 London buses, which will completely change the way people receive information during their commute. Secondly, there are some very smart people who are finding ways to breathe new life into tried and true delivery systems. Our partnership with Tint means brands can pull social content directly from users and feed that back to them on our digital screens across the London Underground.

Finally, it’s the actual data, the lifeblood of the system, which is becoming more dynamic and exploding in volume. Geo-location is going to be one of the most valuable datasets for brands as they can now target audience clusters based on their movements and serve the right information, in the right place, at the right time. It’s the combination of these three things that’s making the most impact for Out-of-Home.

How is data enabling the OOH industry to be more accountable/measurable?

It’s interesting to think of data ‘enabling’ the OOH industry to be more accountable or measurable, because I’m sure there are many out there who will be wary of the transparency that comes with more data because it exposes their methods and practices.

That’s not to say there are unscrupulous players but it highlights what we’ve known for a long time in that there’s no unified method of measurement, which can be applied across the industry to measure effectiveness and engagement. Data will allow greater individual campaign measurement, level the playing field, and open up the door for the collaborative creation of a unified measurement system.

What is the greatest impact data will have on the OOH industry?

Data is going to impact different people in different ways. The consumer is going to see more relevant and engaging content in ways they want and appreciate. Creatives are going to have more information to craft their OOH campaigns. Planners will have tools that make the entire booking process easier. Agencies will have great reporting and accountability. It will just lead to a more effective and dynamic industry overall.

How can data be used to improve creativity in OOH advertising?

Some would argue that art and science can’t coexist, but I’m of the opinion that more information allows for proof of concept, creating stronger and more impactful campaigns. The best advertising campaigns are born from a kernel of truth, and with data you’re simply exposing more of these truths – allowing for a larger number of creative ideas. This means we’ll hopefully see even more engaging creative campaigns.

What kind of impact will the proliferation of data have on media owners in terms of investment and infrastructure?

Only the positive kind. Upgrading infrastructure is part of the natural network improvement cycles – it’s like painting the Eiffel Tower: once finished, you need to start again. But data allows us to know where to make that investment as we can identify and optimise the best performing sites. We might also discover things we never knew about our network and open up new opportunities.

If you could promptly change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

I’d change the way that the industry focuses on taking share from each other, and start looking more closely at how it can compete effectively with other forms of media. In the next 10 years the media power players will be the Internet, TV, OOH, mobile and tablet. However, OOH needs to grow its voice and market share – it should not be a 7 per cent medium as it is now. Industry players need to stop squabbling and think about the bigger picture. They cannot stay in a walled garden and ignore what’s happening in the rest of media land.

We’ll know we’ve reached the golden age of OOH when the medium has grown to double-digit market share. The key to industry growth will be finding ways to engage millennials who are not consuming media in a traditional manner. As TV audiences

fragment, decline and age further, we believe the last broadcast medium for young demographics will be OOH.

Is Exterion Media’s infrastructure able to deal with the introduction of automated or programmatic buying? What are your views on embracing this?

We’re putting the building blocks in place to prepare for automation. This includes preparing for automated transactions and dynamic pricing via new management systems; partnering with companies like Broadsign to schedule content in a more dynamic fashion; and developing protocols and trading rules to administer this change.

Finally, how do you see the role of data changing across the wider industry within the next 5 years? Where do you feel the most significant developments will occur?

The data explosion will continue to expand, but there’ll come a point where we’ll recognise we have all we need and focus on what really matters. We’re starting to see that with the geo-location examples I’ve mentioned previously.

The role of data won’t change, because it will always be used to inform. What will change is its impact on our industry in terms of make up and structure. We’re going to see a greater need for data skills amongst planners and creatives, and it’s highly likely that the industry will shrink with automation, so we need to start thinking now about how we’re going to utilize the skills of extremely talented people. Also, how could we benefit from bringing outsiders in? By this I mean proper data scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

In this way, the most significant developments will be its impact on people – those on both side of the screen – because the conversation between brands and consumers, via data, is only going to get more personal, intricate, complex, and it’s exciting to be part of that.
We would like to thank Shaun and his team for their time. We wish him all the best for 2016 and beyond at Exterion Media.

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