How the data-driven revolution is putting OOH into overdrive

The out-of-home industry is going places, says Christian Zavecs. A data-driven revolution is equipping marketers and brands with the tools to build campaigns based on a deep understanding of audiences and consumer journeys.

This article was sponsored by QMS and is part of our current focus on the out-of-home sector. Contact QMS here »

Christian Zavecz 150 BWIn an industry that has been all about the creative idea and execution, the prevalence of the word ‘data’ in conversations and its subsequent incorporation into creating and delivering strategies seems somewhat at odds.

Put it this way – who would ever have thought marketing discussions would have creative and data simultaneously discussed, with each encouraging equal amounts of passion and vigour? And if that is not happening in your business, then think again, because it should be.

Nothing replaces the essential element of great creative to communicate the message brilliantly, but, equally, nothing is more important than the data that informs who and where the audiences are and then how to measure the effectiveness of the messaging.

The increasing commonality of the data conversation has seen the discussion go beyond the analytics department or the head of insights, to become a daily focus for everyone in the marketing chain. And it is the marketers who have made this the case.

Agencies have now created a business out of it and media owners need to step up to the demand and ensure that they can deliver from a data perspective. So here is another twist in this data tale – media owners are investing in data and putting it in the hands of their salespeople.

Data is already featuring as part of the sales story, but looking to the future it will – quite quickly – become the backbone of how sales professionals talk about their audience and the strength of their assets. Selling is a highly competitive business, and is even more cutthroat – or at least cut rate – in the media world.

Being judged on price alone reinforces a perception that we are all the same, when in fact the sales approach should distinguish us as different – and certainly inside an OOH business the presumption is that we sell ourselves differently.

QMS The Lakes_Sydney Fat Yak

The challenge issued by agencies and marketers is to be able to ensure data is used to validate a sales proposal and demonstrate how that same data provides value. In an OOH sector that’s rapidly expanding in format types and digital capability, data is becoming a key influencer in both how to choose formats and locations and how to maximise the message to generate the greatest response.

Unlike other sectors such as TV, print and online, there has not been a strong data legacy position upon which to build. Audience knowledge has been limited and fairly blunt. OOH has talked about a location and then about the predictive reach and frequency associated with that site.

This has been a restricting factor in the history of OOH, as marketers have had to take limited data to make significant investment decisions and sometimes – given internal pressures – have opted for the more data supported channel as the easier option.

But this is the decade that belongs to OOH – the growth being enjoyed in this sector is related to the enhanced power of the medium and its natural transformation and expanded capabilities through digital.

With this dynamic at play, it is essential that we have the data to be able to show a marketer what each screen is capable of in terms of content and audience delivery. This is the mission currently underway across the sector and specifically the vision we are making a reality at QMS.

The QMS Datalab utilises data from a number of sources allowing us to build an audience story – who these people are, where they travel, how they spend money and where they live. It houses data that gives us detail on consumer journeys, where they start and end, and what they do in between. It includes traditional audience segmentation, from which we’re able to build propensity stories.

Complementing this rational intelligence, we have augmented the platform with a lens on emotional intelligence to enable the tracking of what consumers are thinking, feeling and saying.This multifaceted build is the start of how we are using data to help marketers better understand what is possible through an OOH campaign.

With the proliferation of new datasets becoming available, it is more vital for businesses like QMS to align themselves with credible, sustainable and robust data sources that are complementary and provide valuable insight to our unique asset base. This is work being done for the sales team to utilise for the benefit of the marketer – the single focus is in helping them see where and how to invest.

QMS Tiffanys

Part of our strategic vision for the QMS Datalab is to also develop qualitative research studies which will provide evidence-based results on the efficacy of the medium in assisting marketers to achieve their communication objectives. Continued investment will see a gradual build of these additional datasets along with the ongoing development of technology, allowing the continual evolution and stronger profiles of audience.

We are actively stepping away from the one-dimensional view of the OOH audience, which belongs to its static history, and are now firing ahead into the digital environment, quickly capitalising on the potent possibilities of technology and data harmonised to create powerful targeted audience opportunities for marketers and brands.

It’s an exciting time for the OOH industry and marketers. As we bring brands along our digital transformation and data journey, to embrace the flexibility and creative benefits that are now ingrained in our truly broadcast digital media. We will know we have this humming when we start to see how these different data feeds begin to inform the creative message. Data pushing creativity. Perfect.

OOH is a channel based on the power of the location and audience, amplified through the dynamics of technology informing creative messaging and delivering an impactful and engaging communication. It enables a flexibility and adaptability that turns old perceptions of OOH on their head and showcases the full and rich repertoire that competes with all other screen communications.

The data story – done well – never stops. The databank for OOH will continue to grow as we add new and relevant data sets that paint a more distinct and defined story. With that background and information will come greater ideas for how to use the medium and measuring effect will help us all learn what great creative on great screens looks like.

With access to this data, and a picture of OOH screens that goes beyond predictive reach and frequency, you are able to really understand the attributes of the medium beyond historical perceptions.

The growth of the sector with even the small steps in data usage to date is evidence that marketers recognise the strength of OOH and, with the right data behind the sales story, are wanting to invest. That ultimately translates to a bigger return for the OOH investment. At least that’s what the data says!

Christian Zavecs is general manager – strategy at QMS.

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