How Marketers Can Integrate OOH, Social To Create Context — At Scale

It’s long been the marketer’s “holy grail” to get the right message to the right consumer at the right time — but actually delivering that personalized engagement at scale is a bigger challenge.

In a panel discussion at at Cannes Lions dedicated to bridging digital and real-world experiences, execs from Kinetic, Maxus Global, and Clear Channel talked with GeoMarketing‘s Lauryn Chamberlain about using OOH to drive location-specific context and then social media to amplify that message — plus, what’s going on with the future of smart cities. An excerpted version of the conversation, below.

Let’s start with some examples: How have you worked to bridge the online and offline worlds through integrating mobile, social, and out-of-home in your respective work? What have you seen people really engage with? And on the flip side, what hasn’t worked so well — what can we work on as an industry? 

Richard Stokes, Worldwide Chief Development Officer, Maxus Global: I’ll talk about a very specific example: a campaign for the Dutch Kidney Foundation. Obviously, that’s not somewhere where you’re trying to sell something, but charities are under a lot of pressure from a fundraising point of view and from an awareness point of view — they [needed to] get the message out.

What they did was to take a story about a single patient, Fabian, who was on dialysis. What happens when you’re on dialysis? You’re superman to your kids, you’re a sportsman, you’re a businessman — but your world shrinks, and your world becomes the bedroom because you have to spend most of the day in dialysis.

What we did is to take the fact that here’s Fabian in his tiny bedroom — and then ask, ‘where can we broadcast this to that is the exact opposite?’ The exact opposite was a central station [in the Netherlands], a very busy transport hub. A single digital panel [incorporating social] allowed Fabian to communicate, and interact, and speak to people who stopped in front of him. Kind of take the world into his tiny little bedroom in that way.

The interaction that they had was fantastic, but it didn’t stop there. In a way, what was interesting for me, was to see how out-of-home gave this campaign the physical context, and social gave it scale. Everything was captured [for] Fabian, and the perspective then went out on Facebook, on his page. The campaign was a huge success, and their subsequent donations have been huge. I think that’s a great example of how mobile, social, and out-of-home can work together [to do more] than people might expect.

Mauricio Sabogal, Global CEO, Kinetic: What is interesting is, who are some of the biggest advertisers in out of home? Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon. It might seem kind of weird, because their media assets such that, well, why are they advertising out-of-home? That’s a good question, and the answer is, because they need to be direct, and really they’re getting [incredibly useful] traffic data through interactive [OOH.] They see something in the everyday, they collect it, they analyze it.

But it’s not just about connecting; it is about connecting the strategy at the right moment, to the right company, to the right communication, and to continue to go from there. Once you’ve done that, the question is how to amplify [the message]. [That’s] a good way that social media platforms come into play.

What are the challenges of trying to deliver that contextually relevant message, at the right time, via out-of-home? What have you learned?

Stefan Lameire, Chief Customer & Revenue Officer, Clear Channel International: As Mauricio said, the challenge of technology is that a lot of things are possible — and it’s not just about [connected technology just for its own sake.] I really never forget that what we do with technology should be consumer relevant.

The consumers are driving a different effect, and here’s something we learned: We were putting [a touchpoint] on the side of our panels, where people could actually interact through their smartphones, using NFC, QR, whatever.

The idea behind doing that is really strong, I think, and we indeed had thousand of companies across the globe doing it. But we ran into the issue that the process of downloading coupon, or being told to ‘do this, do that,’ was not consumer relevant. The consumer felt this was advertising; it was not a genuine choice to interact with the brand. [We had to] rethink what kind of information people would actually want — and when. Like, in the UK, there’s a great example of [interacting at taxi stands] to give people information about drivers or about the city.

My two main takeaways would be: Whatever you do with technology, make it consumer relevant — and try to make it at scale so that it’ll use the value of the reach that algorithms have to offer.

Stefan, you mentioned the taxi example in the UK. In many ways, the rise of OOH that is interactive in real-time is driving the development of smart cities. How can you deliver that consumer relevance in smart cities? And what kind of opportunities do they open up for marketers?

Mauricio: We’re [seeing that] evolution now; we’ll be having not just wifi, but internet of things, and many other technologies available to activate in cities.

We see many aspects in cities that can be connected, and you will see thousands of facets of this. The most important part of this, for marketers to think about, is how to demonstrate efficiency and how to demonstrate the right alignment.

Stefan: If you look at this as a media owner, I think, we are restoring assets by delivering services. In the last two years, we’ve [invested in] smart bikes, and wifi, and our company really invested a couple hundred million dollars. We are trying to drive this [evolution], to actually grasp how to support and develop [smart cities].

Some of the important solutions, and the really exciting things start to come in when you are starting to apply wifi, or whatever technology is, and not just in terms of delivering service. A lot of the potential [for marketers] comes from the real-time data that will be there. There are a lot more opportunities around collecting user data. It’s very interesting to see how that will evolve.

Richard: There’s also this opportunity as we look to the future of self-driving cars: You think about the two, three hours that someone has in their car [commuting] every day, that becomes an opportunity — a very valuable one. There’s a value exchange: Maybe I don’t have to actually pay for this car ride, when I’m getting to work, because I’m exposed to X amount of messages, and that’s a very context rich and mass reach environment. I think we can see that quite soon.

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How VR And Mobility Are Influencing Ford’s Marketing

When the Ford Motor Company made the leap into Virtual Reality in August 2016, its goals were firm and clear: this was not an experiment. It would not be a one-time ad campaign designed to “generate buzz” and then disappear. And Ford’s VR experience would not be housed on another company’s platform.

Ford, along with its dedicated agency, GTB, partnered with integrated production company Tool of North America, to create what they say is the “auto industry’s first dedicated branded VR app and recurring content series.”

“It wasn’t about selling vehicles,” said Lisa Schoder, Integrated Marketing & Media Lead at Ford, during a panel session with the company’s VR allies at the IAB Mobile Symposium. “This was more about building the brand. This was about telling Ford’s story of innovation in our products and engineering development.”

GTB’s Christian Colasuonno, Ford’s Lisa Schoder, and Tool’s Dustin Callif at the IAB Mobile Symposium

VR: It’s Where The Customers Are Going

The deep dive into VR reflects Ford’s recognition of where potential customers are consuming content. Plus, it reflects the desire to move to a mobile-first strategy,” Schoder said.

“The VR app made sense for us as a way to pursue original storytelling through  in a thoughtful way,” she said. “We avoided thinking of this as a ‘one and done.’ This was about building a new channel for us to distribute content on.”

The first piece of featured VR content during the launch was the story behind the Ford GT’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 50 years after the car’s original victory. The underlying message of the content was to showcase “the power and efficiency in Ford’s EcoBoost engine” as well.

“On top of sharing virtual reality stories about our innovative products, we are also looking to bring mobility issues to the forefront,” Schoder said at the time of the launch. “As we expand our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, we are pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility.”

From the final installment of the Gymkhana NINE virtual reality and 360-degree video series.

Initial Results Are Strong

The idea for focusing on VR as a branding tool had been “kicking around  the agency for a while,” said Christian Colasuonno, director of Digital Production at GTB.

For example, at another IAB conference last year,  MINI USA’s Lee Nadler showcased that car company’s use of VR as well. The  main goal was not just to share arresting visuals. He wanted to demonstrate that, even though “VR isn’t mass yet,” the ability of immersive, 3D visuals are able to lift brand favorability by 11 percent after generating 4.2 million views.

For Ford, the initial results of its VR efforts were even stronger. The VR experience for Ford’s participation in Gymkhana, the Australian and New Zealand motorsport race, last October drew over 17 million-plus views, as well as drew widespread coverage from media outlets both general and automotive-focused.

During the IAB presentation, Dustin Callif, Tool’s managing partner, noted that Schoder started her career on the engineering side and then moved to marketing.

“The story we’re telling is how that reputation for performance can be stepped up into something larger for the brand,”Callif said before turning to Schoder. “Is [this use of VR and mobile] analogous to the relationship between the auto-enthusiast books and the mainstream advertising were back 20 years ago? Is this an advanced version of that?”

“Maybe,” Schoder responded. “At least in the way we approached it, if we were saying we wanted to deliver stories with the Ford brand onstage, those key moments are in our performance portfolio. And we also knew that when we dug into the audience insights with our performance fanbase, we knew they were largely into tech and identify as early adopters. Now, we’re looking to go beyond performance to see what other stories we can tell to a broader audience.”

Smart Mobility And Connected Cars

Following the panel, we caught up with Schoder and asked her about other emerging channels that can offer both a branding experience as well as drive performance to local dealers.

While the IAB panel discussion was about the role of Ford’s VR app as a branding and content distribution tool, does Schoder see VR as something that can work at the local dealership level to create an omnichannel experience intended to drive sales?

It certainly could be,” Schoder told GeoMarketing. “This particular app was initiated to build brand stories. We’re also looking at VR within the shopping experience. It could provide education about new features, for example, ‘How do you experience the all-new Expedition from the inside-out?’ That is certainly a part of how we might approach the overall use of the VR technology.”

Aside from VR, Ford is also exploring ways of using voice-activated, artificial intelligence-powered digital assistants like Alexa or Siri or Okay Google as part of a wider smart mobility strategy, she noted.

“We want to understand how to work with Amazon on Alexa, so that if someone asks a question about one of our cars, they can have the right answer, the best answer for them,” Schoder said. “We are already working with Amazon on our connected vehicles and see how Alexa fits into what we’re doing and what our customers want. For example, it would be exciting for someone to say, ‘Hey Alexa, start my car.’ The car is a piece of the Internet of Things ecosystem and we want to explore all of it.”

 

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Back-To-School Retail Sales Will Reach $857.18 Billion This Year

Too soon to think about back-to-school? Not for U.S. retailers: In the months of July and August, back-to-school shopping season sales will reach $857.18 billion — a 4 percent increase over 2016’s record-setting year, according to a report from eMarketer.

Five key categories will see a significant spending uptick this summer, per eMarketers analysis: Apparel and accessories, books and music, computers/consumer electronics, office equipment, and toys/sporting goods. In other words, it’s time for marketers in these categories to start thinking about promotions and experiences that will drive back-to-school related sales — even though September is still three months away.

However, as estimated back-to-school spending has grown since last year, the retail footprint has shrunk — meaning that online (both desktop and mobile) will play an even more critical role in driving both e-commerce and the physical sales that still occur.

This trend became clear in 2016, when approximately 85 percent of 1,000 parents told Retale said they use a smartphone to aid back-to-school shopping.

“The use of mobile to help with back-to-school shopping has risen nearly 10 percentage points year-over-year, according to our data,” Pat Dermody, President of Retale, told GeoMarketing at the time. “It’s clear that the omnichannel customer journey continues to define the way most people approach their purchases, and people continue to discover the advantages of leveraging mobile in their shopping.”

As such, marketers would do well to keep in mind three major factors influencing the mobile parents who are actually paying for the bulk of back-to-school purchases:

  • YouTube Matters: It’s not just for Gen-Z — both Millennial moms and dads are heavy users of the platform. In fact, 86 percent of all Millennial dads watch YouTube videos for guidance on parenting topics from cooking a meal to finding back-to-school products for their kids.
  • Video Ad Uptick: Whether on YouTube or not, video ad consumption is on the rise for both kids and parents. As such, “video is not a nice-to-have — it is a must-have,” Facebook’s Irene Chen explained in a panel discussion earlier this year. Just make sure that the video makes sense without sound or uses subtitles; plenty of users watch on the go in situations where it isn’t appropriate to have the volume up.
  • Intelligent Search Changes Everything: For every online purchase resulting from a search, Google sees multi-channel retailers receive an additional 400 in-store visits — a statistic that reinforces how crucial search is to brick-and-mortar businesses. But search has changed since the (relatively recent) days in which a query would result in a list of webpages. As such, to show up in the “knowledge graph,” businesses need to think about the entities fundamental to their category — like how to rank for unbranded search terms (“notebooks for back-to-school” as opposed to “Office Max,” for example), and where their customers are. Do they search on Google? Do they use Snapchat, or are they more likely to be on Instagram — or both? Alexa? Are they using Uber? Businesses today need to push their information to all of these digital services; it’s not enough to just put it on the web.

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How Verve And Digital Domain Are Pairing Geo-Data With Video

The introduction of Verve’s location-based mobile video ad offering last week is intended to capitalize on the popularity of location and “sight, sound, and motion” that has become fairly mainstream for most advertisers and publishers as mobile marketing itself becomes more central.

Verve cited figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2016 Full Year Report that mobile video ad spending jumped 145 percent year-over-year to nearly $4.2 billion — a clear demonstration of brands’ interest in video’s acceptance on smaller screens.

While the combination of location and video is not unusual, the differences between display, rich media, and native is important enough technologically to create a distinct offering.

“What we’re launching is in direct response to what we’re hearing from our clients and where consumer attention is going,” said Kevin Arrix, Verve’s Chief Revenue Officer. “We see tremendous value in helping brands unlock the distinctive power of location data for mobile video, not only in terms of finding consumers in real-time but, more meaningfully, by targeting the most relevant audiences based on their historical movement patterns.”

The location/video offering follows the partnership it struck with video effects and production platform Digital Domain back in February. It’s positioned within Verve Activate, the location ad platform’s audience segmentation, insights, and targeting program.

“Our partnership with Verve continues to align around this powerful combination of technology and artistry,” said Amit Chopra, Executive Director and COO at Digital Domain. “Bringing immersive technology to location-powered video expands and enhances the ways in which brands can convey engaging and contextually relevant ads to consumers.”

In a look at how Facebook and YouTube were influencing the role of mobile video in March,  Verve’s VP and creative director Walter T. Geer III wrote on GeoMarketing that “Brands and publishers clearly want to get to a point where they’re offering both meaningful, location- and context-sensitive experiences and meaningful monetization. But the industry is still in the early days of defining how video content on the smartphone and mobile device can achieve that goal, contextual and otherwise. Success in all these efforts comes down to finding smarter ways to engage.”

We spoke with Verve’s Arrix ahead of his appearance at Tuesday’s IAB Mobile Symposium, where he’ll be discussing location-based ad sales strategies.

GeoMarketing: What’s special about the way Verve is linking location and video?

Kevin Arrix: The fact that our agency and brand partners have been pretty excited by the power and results of location, as well as noting the importance of online video, our partners encouraged us to find ways of putting the two together. So this is all about delivering a scaled video/location solution to the marketplace.

Does this product represent any new capabilities versus what Verve was able to do before, or is this mainly about offering a formal, synthesized solution?

We’ve been testing the incremental benefit of location targeting and insights for video. So bringing that added layer of our first-party data, the precision that goes with that to display, rich media, and now video, is something we’ve been working on. It was just a no-brainer for us to bring this comprehensive offering wider.

What’s the nature of the partnership Verve struck in February with Digital Domain? Is there a creative capability being baked in to the location/video offering?

Digital Domain is a world-class production and camera technology company. They bring that capability and quality to our advertiser partners. Working with Digital Domain also helps us address a something missing in the marketplace around 360-degree video: one of the challenges is distribution. If we pair our presence, our distribution platform with Digital Domain’s expertise, it makes for a great combination.

How are Verve and Digital Domain going to market with this location/video solution?

We’re in the process of approaching our strongest partners. It’s open to advertiser who sees the value in more forward-thinking video formats. But it’s all done in conjunction with Digital Domain.

The focus is on proving out the power of location and video in a variety of ways and use cases. We’ve proven it in display and rich media. So, we’re expanding our suite of mobile advertising solutions. The ability to overlay high-quality, first-party location data places Verve in a unique position to help brands elevate their mobile strategy by enabling them to reach intended audiences with greater efficiency and relevance.

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10 Things To Know About Online-To-Offline Marketing This Week

GeoMarketing’s Link Picks of the Week:

Top Stories of the Week:

5. Consumers Trust Search Engines Over Friends, Brands When It Comes To Finding New Products

The rise of intelligent search has major implications for local businesses.

4. How Apple Is Aiming Higher Than Amazon’s Echo With Homepod

Apple unveiled its smart speaker Homepod at its developer conference to do all the things other voice-activated assistant devices can do — and more.

3. Staples Brings In Former Agency Exec Michelle Bottomley As CMO

Bottomley replaces retiring Staples CMO Frank Bifulco with the goal of promoting the office supply chain’s focus on delivery and digital integration.

2. How Bing Visual Search Can Promote Brick-And-Mortar Discovery And Deals

By updating the ‘search by image’ feature in Bing, the Microsoft search engine is offering another way to anticipate consumers’ needs beyond text.

1. Why Snap Acquired Online-To-Offline Attribution Provider Placed

As Snap is under pressure to prove its geofilters can drive store visits and sales, it is turning to Placed, which has pioneered the idea of location-based attribution.

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Think With Google: Customers Want Brands To ‘Know Them Better’ Across Devices

53 percent of consumers will abandon a mobile site that takes more than three seconds to load, and 89 percent of U.S. marketers report that personalization on responsive mobile apps and websites has increased their revenue — hardly a surprise considering Think With Google’s report on the three trends shaping the future of mobile and connectivity, which sees customers asking brands to “help me faster, know me better, and wow me everywhere” with immersive experiences.

Immediacy has always been key to serving consumers on mobile, but with the advent of intelligent assistants like Amazon Alexa and Okay Google — which can answer voice queries instantly and get ‘smarter’ about their users over time — the bar for both speed and personalization across all devices has been raised even higher.

So, how can marketers deliver?

Get To Know Me

By now, marketers know that customized content is key to engaging consumers across devices. That said, it bears repeating that “personalization is a strategy, not a feature,” as TWG’s report states. “We have an opportunity to be smarter with data, using important signals about customers—such as browsing behavior or CRM data—to shape their experiences.”

As an example, TWG cites a recent Maybelline campaign: The brand was preparing to launch new products for a type of makeup application, contouring, and it used Google Insights to make “how-to” videos, which were then personalized by customer intent, demographic, and more. The result? Maybelline’s videos racked up a reported nine million views.

Don’t Forget About New Devices

Essentially, consumers are, at the base level, looking to be recognized for who they are by their favorite brands — regardless of device.

63 percent of people expect brands to deliver a “consistent experience” every time they interact. For marketers who have been paying attention to lessons learned from experiments in omnichannel, this stat should come as no surprise — but marketers now need to take this lesson and incorporate it when it comes to a new suite of devices and touch points. Anymore, it’s not just about synchronization across mobile, tablet, and desktop; as usage continues to skyrocket, connected assistants (Amazon Echo, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana) and IoT devices matter just as much.

“As consumer behaviors shift, it will be important to rethink the investments we make in the user experience,” TWG’s report concludes. “Removing friction and bridging the gaps between channels — all while treating each customer as a unique individual — will be key.”

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