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The Happy Marriage of Creative and Data in Out of Home


By Charlen Weisler

Originally Posted on Media Village

Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising has reached an important crossroad between creative and data. Impactful, engaging creative has always been a given. But now, advancements of technology enable OOH advertisers to access a range of data sets that map and measure the impact of creative on the consumer experience through the sales funnel. A lively discussion at the recent Advertising Club Out Of Home Now conference highlighted the importance of both creative and data in advancing the business.

Dave Yacullo, President and CEO of Outdoor Media Group, opened the meeting by saying that “OOH is the perfect marriage between art and science. We now have contextually relevant content in many formats and we are going digital. ”


The creative keynote speaker, Mark Tutssel, Global Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Worldwide, waxed poetic about how outdoor, one of the oldest advertising mediums, is also one of the most compelling to change hearts and minds. “Outdoor, for me, is one of the great canvases,” he said. “When I first got into the industry I was told that when you have an idea, first create an outdoor poster because this form of advertising distills an idea to its essence. It can transform business and impact society. It can stop people in their tracks. The poster is the oldest form of outdoor information exchange and is also the medium of the future.”

With that in mind, Tutssel demonstrated the impact that outdoor can have when creative is merged with technology. This merging can go beyond the mere commerce impact of advertising. It can enable social good and health. Examples included Samsung, which rolled out smart trucks enabled with cameras and back screens showing on-coming traffic that helped lower car accident deaths on Brazil’s one-lane roads. Another example was Coca-Cola, which used location based screens in Lahore, Pakistan and in Delhi, India to bring people together and share a positive, friendly moment between two nations that sometimes view each other with suspicion and hostility. These initiatives, in my opinion, are brilliant, brand effective and socially beneficial, bringing “the poster” with its historical impact to change hearts and minds into the 21st century.

“Great brands have unmistakable brand identity,” Tutssel concluded. “They capture the human spirit. They are delightfully simple. They grab people by the eyeballs and reward them for their time and intelligence. People are looking for ways for brands to reward them and enrich their lives. The message must open up inside our minds.”


A campaign can have great creative and an amazing initiative, but without the ability to measure its impact we may never know how much they helped reach its goals. That is where all this new data, made available via the digitization of media, can make an impact. Plus, the sophistication of blending location- based technology with digital data enables OOH to more effectively target consumers at a time when they are most receptive to those ads. Stacy DeRiso, Group Director, PHD Media, Google, explained, “We are using data to identify an elusive target. We are very scientific as to how to reach them and are targeting more specifically where they work and play in order to create contextual messages.”

Andy Stevens, Senior Vice President Research and Insights for Clear Channel Outdoor, has recently moved to OOH from digital. What drew him to OOH? “In digital we can get diverse audience insights,” he said. “We can optimize in real time. But in OOH we have high impact. There is no ad-skipping. There is no ‘below the fold.’ Traditionally, in OOH it is hard to measure who is actually seeing that ad but we know there is a huge opportunity in data to change the industry.”

Hard data alone may not tell the entire story. How do we know that the consumer’s mindset is receptive to receiving and processing the message? Enter neuro-marketing into OOH. “We use the emotional mindset to decide when to serve ads going beyond surface metrics to emotions,” explained Alan Smith, Chief Digital Officer at Assembly. Smith realized that we get an emotional high after going to the gym rather than on a stressful commute and that may make us more open to ads from a company like Timberland. “We shifted media towards gym type locations and inside gyms and maximized the mix,” he confided. The combination of emotional behavioral insight coupled with location technology helps feed an ad at the right time in the right place when the consumer has the right mindset to receive it.

Where there is data, programmatic cannot be far behind. When asked if OOH programmatic is in the near future, DeRiso said, “Yes. Programmatic allows us to be more elegant. We can create messages or bodies of messages that are more powerful and engaging.”

“We embrace programmatic,” Smith added. “It has daunting complexity but automation is a good thing. The more you are embedded in technology the more buyers you have.”


The final panel, moderated by MediaVillage’s Stuart Elliott, put all of the OOH pieces together — the creative and the quantitative — with a discussion of connected cities that are essentially partnerships between municipalities and marketers. “Smart Cities is a very nascent field,” Elliott began. “It is fast moving but still early.”

Initiatives like Citi Bikes, the Highline and now Sidewalk Labs in New York City are, according to Dave Etherington, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer at Intersection, “focused on improving the urban experience.” This is done with creative, seamless partnership integration that can be quantified.

The future looks bright for OOH. As Elyssa Gray, Director, Head of Brand and Advertising NA Cards, Citi, noted, “If you can think it up you can probably execute it.”

And now you can even measure it.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.