Media: Double Standards - Leading the way in outdoor's digital revolution

Digital is taking out-of-home media to a higher level and heavy investment from media owners is helping to push it back on to the agenda, two contractors reveal.

DON SPERRING - GROUP DIGITAL STRATEGY DIRECTOR, JCDECAUX

- Tell us how much you've invested in digital and what you're offering

JCDecaux Airport and BAA will unveil the largest deployment of digital screens in March 2008 with more than 600 digital airport panels. The screens are in place (in gaterooms, lounges and alongside flight information displays), they are working and are already well sold. JCDecaux's roadside strategy will deliver 20 x 48-sheet digital billboards in central London locations establishing a digital commuter network. Our Innovate division has already run more than 200 digital six-sheet screens on bus-shelters. Between ourselves and our partners, we will be spending between £15 million and £20 million by the end of 2008.

- Is the creative community geared up for the opportunities you can now offer?

They're getting there. Fortunately, the more specialist creative agencies have already seized the opportunity and with an expanding digital landscape and pressure from clients who are showing a very real interest, digital will soon be grabbing everyone's attention. I would ask a different question - are the structures in place on the media side for digital outdoor to be utilised as flexibly as press? Imagine buying an outdoor slot congratulating England on their semi-final win.

- What's your own favourite among the campaigns you've run recently and why?

In June this year, the M4 Digital Torch carried a different creative every day, counting down to England going smoke free. Reaching more than one million consumers a week, the campaign played to all digital's strengths - flexibility, impact and innovation.

- How might Bluetooth technology be used together with digital screens?

Bluetooth, or any wireless or text channel, makes the message even more powerful with consumers downloading vouchers, or being directed to a webpage. If you add GPS, then you have the double benefit that both copy and promotional offers can be targeted to discreet locations.

- Are there particular advertisers that your digital offering suit most?

Brands that have traditionally used print and radio as a tactical and price promotion channel will now be able to exploit digital outdoor, enabling the likes of Ryanair to change the seat prices to their heart's content via a web client portal. It will open up out of home for brands whose lead times have pushed outdoor off the schedule.

- What's the next exciting development in outdoor?

Early next year we will see a new generation of LCD screens that will move digital to the next level. These screens have a boosted light level achieved through the removal of the standard lighting in the screen and replaced with a significantly brighter unit. It may be 12 months before these units start appearing, but they could transform the classic six-sheet.

- How distinct is your offer compared with those of your competitors?

In airports, we will be the first to offer real critical mass with more than 600 screens. This will offer advertisers the ultimate in flexibility allowing them to reach passengers at different times of day with different messages and in different mindsets.

- What's the best thing about working in outdoor right now?

Forging new frontiers.

NICKY CHESHIRE - DIGITAL SALES DIRECTOR, CBS OUTDOOR

- Tell us how much you've invested in digital and what you're offering

Our ambition is to deliver a new media channel for London. We're currently investing £36 million to install the largest network of digital out-of-home screens anywhere in the world. Fifty per cent of our screens are already in situ, and XTP can be viewed in a live environment for the first time as we undergo an observation period for this new medium at Euston station.

- Is the creative community geared up for the opportunities you can now offer?

A screen is just a screen - it is compelling content that brings a medium to life. We've spent a lot of time engaging the creative community and many of the campaigns now running across our network are truly stunning and inspirational. Moving image, broadcast in full HD, to a captive audience is a powerful proposition and one that is not lost on directors and channel planners. Digital escalator panels, in particular, offer a totally unique canvas where brand stories can be translated in dramatic fashion across screens as consumers travel up an escalator.

- What's your own favourite among the campaigns you've run recently and why?

Bacardi. Its recent campaign looked sensational. Clear liquid images pouring across screens, spinning bottles and copy that rotated to promote mixer options. It used the flexibility of the medium to maximum effect, using our evening entertainer pack to pinpoint West End socialisers on Thursday through to Saturday nights. I'm not a big fan of rum, but this campaign made me think again.

- How might Bluetooth technology be used together with digital screens?

We've already run a number of Bluetooth campaigns, allowing Tube travellers to download rich content from static posters. Digital screens allow us to take this on to another level and build a conversation through uploading consumer response to brand messages or through competitions or voting mechanisms, for example.

- Are there particular advertisers that your digital offering suit most?

We're focusing on advertisers who might previously not have considered traditional posters - either because a static image can't do full justice to their brand offering, or because a two-week cycle and longer lead times are too inflexible to accommodate a message that may need to change day by day or even hour by hour.

- What's the next exciting development in outdoor?

For us, it will be the roll-out of XTP across the Tube network. Go down to Euston station and see how mesmerised consumers are with this new channel. And then imagine how the Underground will be transformed when we have more than 100 of these transfixing Tube travellers next spring.

- How distinct is your offer compared with those of your competitors?

Our proposition is totally unique. A combination of full-motion images, broadcast to the highest spec possible, in an environment where consumers want to be entertained and are not open to other distractions differentiates us from our competitors.

- What's the best thing about working in outdoor right now?

The feeling that we're really changing the face of what is arguably the oldest advertising medium in existence. We're breaking down boundaries, blurring definitions, and re-writing the rules as we go along. And the jollies are great too!

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).