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The digitalisation of outdoor advertising

Last updated: 01-22-2020

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The digitalisation of outdoor advertising

2019 was the year when the marcomms industry awoke to the power of big data and algorithm.

Whether it is data collecting or using data for more intelligent targeting, one thing is clear: data is increasingly driving marketing. Data allows marketers to tease out previously unclear connections between different ‘nodes’ in a marketing ecosystem, in turn giving rise to new forms of marketing. In a world when online traffic dividends are disappearing, and marketers are looking elsewhere to promote their products and services, the digitalisation of offline media seems like an inevitable trend.

This is a need for accurate delivery for potential customers, online and offline integration, and link analysis of integrated marketing models.

During the 2019 iResearch (Shanghai) Annual Summit, Cindy Yan Chan, chief strategy officer and chief information officer of Focus Media Group, divulged how digital media drives outdoor media and how outdoor media can leverage digital media to drive new marketing.

There are currently several digital media trends driving outdoor media. 

The first is integration, integration, integration. Whether it is centralising resources or integrating content, integration is a key word of the new year, per Chan. With regards to the former, there are two ways companies can go about doing it. The first is homogeneous integration, in other words, to direct resources of similar nature to the same pt. The second is cross-domain integration, which provides opportunities to generate new models and new formats. Content-wise, advertising will become more dynamic and increasingly informed by their surroundings--no doubt bolstered by technologies such as programmatic, whose targeting abilities are set to make marketing more impactful. 

As data sets become increasingly integrated, the future also sees link analysis becoming increasingly sophisticated. With that also comes a shift in mentally: companies would no longer be evaluating the effectiveness of an outdoor media campaign based solely on how much sales an ad rakes in, but the overall effectiveness of a campaign, including—but not limited—to sales volumes, brand awareness etcetera. 

Digital outdoor media is also inextricably linked to discussions around smart cities.

Smart cities have three requirements: infrastructure, including the three aspects of infrastructure, data collection terminals, and workable algorithms to analyse the data.  

Among all the different elements, smart buildings are an essential part of smart cities. Smart buildings are powerfuldisseminators of information: not only could they give real-time updates pertaining to the weather or road conditions, they also help relay government policies, and transmit any emergency information during natural disasters. 

Focus Media has a keen grasp of these trends, as evidenced by the speed it has adopted digital. 

Three key characteristics make the company’s new digital strategy stand out: a stable foundation, accurate placement and comprehensive evaluation. 

A robust back-office digital operation forms the basis for an effective launch. As Chan noted, “we monitor equipment status, advertising push, and data transmission in real time through the Internet of Things, realising real-time status notification and automatic failure notification, which improves operational efficiency and efficiency, and also an important aspect of digitalisation's transformation to the marketing industry.” 

Another change brought about by the rise of digital is increased accuracy. This means better understanding of both customers and consumers, or in other words, taking into account users' attributes with attributes of a building and locale to decide where to place an ad.  

In the future, the preponderance of digital will drive a new form of intelligent outdoor advertising. 

“Now the focus is on ‘buying’ a certain demographic. In the future, we will be ‘buying’ the right time to ensure that we are in the right place and at the right time to communicate the right message to the right people,” says Chan.

In response to this development, Focus Media has built a smart advertising system. This is the latest and most advanced intelligent outdoor advertising and publishing system in the market. Compared with the traditional advertising delivery model, the intelligent system has a few obvious advantages: richer delivery methods, more accurate delivery; more varied scheduling methods, smarter operation methods, more timely responses to automatic operation. Additionally, this system can be docked with various DSPs to achieve refined placement and programmatic docking.

The digitalisation of outdoor media goes right down to the evaluation process. Digitalisation enables outdoor media to be integrated with the entire chain of data, just like Internet media.

Focus Media has achieved two things in this area. First, the expansion of the reach of analysis. With digitalisation, the company can now integrate first and second-party data to not only achieve real-time advertising analysis, but also front-to-back end analysis of outdoor media. This kind of analysis allows clients to measure across screens, big and small, enabling them to compare a campaign’s effectiveness on different media, and ultimately, better allocate budgets. The second is to connect with Alibaba's data in order to establish brand equity and implement attribution analysis of full link conversion.

In the reality of fragmented communication, it is getting increasingly important to emphasise production synergy. Some time ago, the campaign of an international brand led to a discussion regarding the merits of brand vs. performance advertising. While heavy investment in performance marketing would lead to an immediate upshot in sales, the upward curve won’t last without establishing brand and consumer awareness.

It is inevitable that the digital transformation of outdoor media will open up a new reality for media convergence, and it’s one that must be rooted in strong data capabilities and interoperability. For companies who want to win in the age of data, mastering data and algorithms is key. 


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