Ad Week Europe: Plenty of opportunities for brands to embrace 'smart city' concept

There are plenty of opportunities for brands to embrace the smart city concept when it comes to events and activations, attendees at an Advertising Week Europe panel discussion were told yesterday (19 April).

The discussion on smart cities took place on the IPA Stage at Advertising Week Europe yesterday (19 April)
The discussion on smart cities took place on the IPA Stage at Advertising Week Europe yesterday (19 April)

The talk on 'How Smart Cities Will Transform Advertising' featured a six-strong panel, including; Michael Brown, managing director, PsLive; Paul Davies, CMO, Microsoft; Zanine Adams, head of events and business development UK, London & Partners; and Helen Marriage, Lumiere Festival creator and the founder of Artichoke.

The panellists spoke about the rise in ‘big data’ and how it can be used across cities, including during events such as Lumiere London where crowd control became an issue, with Brown stating that the infrastructure around the use of big data in cities should be, by and large, invisible to the consumer.

Brown said for him the very essence of what makes a smart city is "the convergence of big data, technology and city infrastructure to do something that benefits the citizen in a time and place when they most need it, and enriching their experience of what it is to be in the city".

He used the example of the recent Adidas X activation to illustrate this. The activity saw a training space set up offering sunrise yoga sessions and an illuminated running track which could be used at night. "It was aimed at female runners who felt unsafe doing the thing they love during the early hours of the morning, or late at night, so it was giving something back".

While Adams added that although technology was a "huge game-changer in the city", people too often spend their time looking down at their phone while walking around the city, and she encourages them to ‘look up’ at what’s around them.

"We need to use more of the landscape and the outdoor spaces in the city," Adams said, adding that she loves it when brands come and activate in London, using it as a canvas, and that there are plenty of opportunities to do more of this.

Data can also be used to personalise an experience. Davies gave an example of how Microsoft used data and technology to deliver a personal out-of-home campaign for a phone device, which turned out to be even more personalised than first envisaged.  

The poster campaign was geo-targeted and the messaging on it also linked up to the time of day, day of the week and weather for example, offering more than 10,000 different messages depending on where it was.

However one person’s tweet of a billboard in Scotland, and the fact they felt the language used wasn’t reflective of the area, resulted in the company using technology to track down exactly which poster they had seen and then create a personal message just for the consumer in response.

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