Blog: Real time experiential fed by data

Like a well-fed toddler constantly in need of ever bigger shoes, the footprint of digital out of home (DOOH) grows ever larger, says Michael Brown, managing director of agency psLIVE.

The proliferation of interactive panels is heading towards 20%of all UK poster sites. Correspondingly, more and more outdoor spend is channeled into the hungrier and hungrier mouth of the child of our times that is digital.

Posterscope state that this is 28% of all out of home revenues. This is an absolutely massive spoonful, especially when you consider the Advertising Association and Warc’s Adspend Forecast predicted that over £1 billion would be invested in Out of Home advertising during 2015. Open wide!

At this juncture you might be thinking that this has zilch all to do with your life as a purveyor of quality experiential services. In which case, I am politely requesting you think again for here beckons a table you may want a seat at. To build on a theme I explored in my previous blog piece Experiential Architecture; that of new opportunity, we practitioners are best placed to help nurture the DOOH infant into a fully-formed and well-adjusted adult!

At some point in the glorious future, all outdoor will be digital. A jury of media’s finest will take a long time to return a verdict on precisely when that will be but, while the experts are deliberating, we have enough coverage presently to get cracking.

All digital is inherently interactive – there is no point in it otherwise! Folk are definitely more inclined to engage with interactive advertising whether through their mobile devices or through touch screen. This means there is a very fuzzy distinction, or rather no distinction at all, between the creative on the digital panels, and the live space in front of those panels. Is it bought media or is it experiential or both? A savvy operator may want to lay claim to a chunk of this space before it’s too late and in so doing start a gold rush. Indeed, some prospectors have already staked a claim. Are they using it to its fullest potential though?

Recently a feature I read on interactive outdoor highlighted the Pepsi Max augmented reality bus shelter as a good example of the form. Unarguably, the idea is envy arousing, and it’s certainly famous around our meeting room table as the thing clients most want a variation of to adorn their own campaigns, yet it was a one-off tactical execution; as opposed to being the fulcrum of a genuine wide-scale media plan. Most of the other examples cited in the piece are similarly tactical by design.

There are real world examples where the medium is pushed further: In the bottom right corner of the below photo, (from way back in 2012) people are queuing up to see content they had moments earlier created with a Canon Ixus after first picking up the camera from a pop-up showroom and taking it on a ‘test drive’.


This in itself is a revolution. Up until that point, people did not queue to see creative on a poster panel – even if they had really uneventful social lives! Fast forward to 2015 and the people you see ‘joining the crew’ in the Captain Morgan advert on the Piccadilly One site in Piccadilly Circus are, right at that moment, taking part in a bar promotion in Yates’s just around the corner in Leicester Square!


Both instances are giving people their few minutes in the spotlight in spectacular style, therefore building on the fame social media users seek each time they share content, and both are broadcasting content to outdoor media bought in day-parts as part of a wider geo-targeted media plan that is scaled nationally.

As interesting as these examples are, and I must confess a partisan bias in that the Canon and Captain Morgan works were both done by psLIVE, there is so still so much more you can do creatively in this constantly evolving medium. Once you factor in real time data streaming you can really catapult the ante skywards.

Last winter, British Gas used real-time data about travel from public transport arrival and departure boards to trigger contextually relevant messaging in airports, bus and rail stations to travellers and commuters about Hive, a smart product that allows people to remotely adjust their home heating with their mobile devices. For example, if the number 50 bus to Croydon showed as due in 20 minutes then OOH messages were triggered to prompt relevant use of the application.

Dan Douglas, the founder of Liveposter, the company who developed the technology that enabled British Gas, among others, to use live data and content to effect campaign messaging explains the potential his platform may provide for experiential activity…

"The opportunity is to bring together the power of experiential to engage and involve consumers in brand advertising with the scale and speed of DOOH media to amplify it in real time to a broadcast audience. Real time data adds an extra dimension to both the targeting and display content ensuring the most relevant content is shown at any moment."

Adam Cherry, Liveposter’s digital director, adds: "We know from recent research that data driven dynamic campaigns add value to advertisers in terms of increasing awareness and message recall. Using data to optimise the creative around experiential activity will strengthen the live work e.g. brands associating with sports could pull in live scores or even tailor the creative based around social sentiment in a particular location."

Such work threatens to put experiential at the heart of a media plan, a switch from a tactical to a strategic medium. This places us practitioners at the centre of the mix, and potentially changes the old order, in particular the ad agency role: If this really is the glorious future then could the logical end point see all content, for any creative campaign, flowing from, and out of the live experience in real time fed by data? As I stated earlier, a seat at the table of this particular opportunity awaits us. Perhaps we may even sit at the head of it!

Michael Brown is MD of psLIVE

Check out our blogs page on everything from Secret Cinema and drones to retail experiential marketing.

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