With 2016 a year of digital transition for JCDecaux, we expect 2017 to be pivotal as we earn the majority of our revenues from digital for the first time.
So far, this transformation has been visible through our investment in digital capital, in what we call the "three Ds": in digital hardware: the screens that will be seen by one billion eyeballs a week by the end of next year; in data: partnerships with providers such as Telefónica that allow personalisation at scale; and in delivery: systems that put the right content, in the right location, in front of the right person at the right time.
Less visible, behind the digital capital, has been our investment in human capital.
You need to bring your staff, partners and customers with you on the journey – and the change has been radical. Where before we saw the physical product as our main attribute, it’s our people that will turn the physical into a living digital ecosystem that drives value and creativity for our partners. This was the core topic of discussion on Friday at Quantcast’s annual Supernova event.
Like my fellow panellists Jamie West at Sky Media, Jon O’Donnell at ESi and Oliver Dean at Global Radio I represent a "traditional" media channel working to digitise without losing the unique attributes that brought us success in the first place.
For all of us, it’s about getting the right blend in new digital-native thinkers while upskilling our existing talent.
In our case, Ben Maher joined from Mashable to reframe how we sell digital. Anto Chioccarelli came from VCCP to provide a creative’s inspiration, while Alex Matthews arrived from BBH to head up a new creative technologists’ team, Dynamic.
And our first-board level HR director, Natasha Adams, who saw the BBC’s own evolution into a digital leader, has made change management a strategic priority at the heart of our business.
The strength of audiences
Also critical was our decision to join the IAB. As we did so, much was made of our decision not to support OOH marketing body Outsmart.
We see ourselves as a top digital media owner, and joining the IAB was certainly meant as a statement of digital intent to staff, partners and clients. Becoming digital, alongside peers such as Google, Facebook, Sky and News UK, is our future: marketing a channel of panels seems less important as audiences become the currency that matters.
The need to upskill talent was our main reason for joining the IAB. With 100-plus people signed up for events and online learning, and in-house training sessions filmed and transmitted through the business, we are all making the most of it. Sales and marketing, finance, IT, site developers and operations: digital transformation has to flow throughout the business to be felt.
Hello Boys, Labour Isn’t Working are great legacy examples of iconic, inspiring, brand fame-inducing advertising. And the future? Flagship digital locations such as Oxford Street, Waterloo Station, Old Street Roundabout and Bluewater are being embraced by brands such as Google, Facebook, Sky and Amazon Prime to great effect. But we’re only getting started.
I believe we have the potential to create the first, great iconic advertising of the digital era. Beyond the infrastructure change, it’s the mindset change, driven by new digital leadership and developing our existing talent, that will get us there.
David McEvoy is marketing director at JCDecaux