Deloitte Digital experiments with eye-tracking DOOH at London City Airport

Technology allows Deloitte and Market Gravity to analyse engagement in real time.

Deloitte Digital, in a collaboration with Market Gravity, has implemented digital out-of-home ads at London City Airport with gaze-tracking technology to measure engagement with the information on display.

The company is pushing into marketing services to take on rivals including Accenture as well as traditional advertising groups such as WPP. Last year, Deloitte Digital acquired London-based propsition design firm Market Gravity, as well as ad agencies Acne and Heat.

Nick Sherrard, managing director at Market Gravity, said: "If you’re a regular flyer through London City, you wouldn’t actually notice any difference; the screen has stayed exactly the same, but what we’ve added is gaze-tracking, so we can see what people interact with and what they pay no attention to."

This allows the airport, Deloitte Digital and Market Gravity to test in real time and learn as the process continues. Sherrard said that this is particularly interesting in the context of London City Airport, since it has people passing through every day who are hard to test in any other setting.

Glen Wilson, managing director at Posterscope, said: "Image recognition in all its forms – eye-tracking, gender, mood, number plate etc – has been widely applied to DOOH for some time. It will continue to be an increasingly important technology in deriving human insights which, in turn, allow DOOH to work harder for advertisers, leveraging its inherent flexibility and agility to deliver more efficient and effective solutions.

"These technologies lend themselves to any pedestrian environments, whether they be high streets, shopping malls or railway stations. In addition, number-plate recognition is also used to serve advertising to drivers of competitive brands, plus many other applications."

Sally Emms, head of media sales at London City Airport, said: "We are embarking on a huge development programme at the airport and our media assets as a result of that will completely transform. What we’re hoping to do is use technology to put media assets into the terminal that will provide advertisers with an experience.

"By using data like this, they can understand exactly who is passing through the terminal at whatever point in time and what they’re most responsive to, making their media buying and creative use on those screens more beneficial for their brand messaging."

The analysis of results, which can take place in their on-site lab, The Innovation Gateway, showed that people on average spend more time watching the content on the screen when it’s quieter, with engagement falling off by one-third when the space was busier. Quiz-style content, where questions are on the screen for 10 seconds before an answer is shown, performed best, with engagement rising by about 10%. It’s the first time that this technology has been rolled out in an airport context.

Emms said: "The lab is a real innovation in airport advertising, enabling brands we work with to create propositions that are proven to effectively communicate with their audience. Also, as the airport continues its £480m development, this opens the door to brand new opportunities in the transformed terminal."

London City Airport has its own media sales team. Emms explained: "We find that this works best for us as we can focus and prioritise our communications based on in-house knowledge of the audience and our media formats. We don’t have to worry about how much or little a media owner is recommending our airport to agencies and clients as we manage this ourselves."