Outdoor Advertising Research and Innovation: The Key for the Future

Albert Asséraf
EVP Strategy, Research & Marketing
JCDecaux France

We offer a brief outline of the presentation that the EVP Strategy, Research & Marketing Expert from JCDecaux France Mr. Albert Asséraf made at the 2nd International Conference “Outdoor Advertising in Ukraine. Challenges of the 3rd Millennium” that took place in Ukrainian capital - Kiev.
The full presentation can be downloaded at: Outdoor research and innovation.pptx

About JCDecaux Group

JCDecaux Group is one of the few companies in the world that can boast the wide coverage of the international audience. The management of JCDecaux Group has recently outlined a new plan according to which the company must be present in most countries and all major cities in the world. It looks that this target is quite realistic. At the beginning 2013, the company had offices in 55 countries and the total staff exceeded 10 and a half thousand people. At present the daily audience of the Group exceeds 300 million people worldwide. The calculater refuses to show the total annual audience –not enough zeroes on the display.

If we are talking about outdoor advertising, the company does it all: informational kiosks, airport advertising (in and out), transport advertising (everything, including metro), installation of billboards and LED video screens.

JCDecaux Group is so hugely successful that does not need to advertise itself. It is sufficient to quote statistical data that is extremely convincing. What is important is that the company sets correct goals and attempts to achieve them in a consistent and planned manner. So, what is it that JCDecaux considers the priority on the agenda? First, it is the constant monitoring of the ever-changing demand on the cut-throat competitive outdoor market. Second, study of the efficiency of the outdoor medium and attempts to measure this effectiveness objectively. Third, implementation of new technological solutions, primarily in the sphere of digital solutions.

Methods of Outdoor Advertising

Now let’s start from the beginning: Demand and current market tendencies. The leadership of JCDecaux Group believes that outdoor advertising is an ideal environment for positioning major brands. For this reason the company increases its presence in airports and other major transport hubs in big cities. This plan is essential considering the growing mobility of the large and fairly wealthy middle class. At the same time the company invests heavily into study of the changing city landscape, determining fashionable trends in advertising and perception of advertising. These studies indicate that there are three dimensions in measuring effectiveness: Creative execution; Impact and brand effects; and Sales and R.O.I.

Modern cities are enormous commercial centers, and citizens are indeed only consumers that have to be nudged in the right direction, that is towards shops. Advertisers have to only understand the environment and position outdoor installations as a strategic medium for brands. Market research came up with the interesting scale for measuring the attractiveness of our cities from the point of view of international brands:

  1. The city of potential – Attractiveness - 94%: “Everything is possible and within arm’s reach in the city”;
  2. The city of discovery – Attractiveness - 80%: “I’m forever discovering something different in the city”;
  3. The essential city - Attractiveness - 73%: “I can’t stay away from the city for long”;
  4. The city I can identify with – Attractiveness - 72%: “I feel alive in the city”.

Citizens of all these towns are used to air travel. It means that advertisers have to find innovative ways to position brands in airports. 99% of the time passengers in airports have time on their hands, and the company sees it as a great opportunity to provide some interaction between the brand & the consumer. Passengers are choosy. But even they agree that advertising offered by JCDecaux is pleasant-looking and useful. Here is the statistical data:

  • International Frequent Flyers enjoy airport advertising – 85%;
  • Want more activities, services & distractions - 82% ;
  • Enjoy looking at brand exhibits – 75%.
Curves of TV audience and outdoor movements Curves of TV audience (blue) and outdoor movements (brown). TV and Outdoor complementarity between the two media is evidenced all day long.

Market research is traditionally focused on studying consumer behavior. Researching specific targets’ attitudes and purchasing behavior is key to promoting Outdoor in a brand’s communication strategy. It is well-known that 91% consumers buy on impulse when grocery shopping online, instore or during their daily commute. And impulsive buying is directly linked with attractiveness of advertising, of packaging and strategic product placement.

Today our life is overloaded with information. In these conditions it is important to understand our media environment. How does outdoor interact with other media? In a highly fragmented media world, Outdoor is the last mass medium that can reach targets on the move and work in synergy with other media. It seems that the best interaction today is between outdoor and TV. Complementarity between these two media is evidenced all day long.

It may be taken for granted that the more people are on the move, the more they are exposed to Outdoor advertising. But how can we measure that exposure, to say nothing of its efficiency? JCDecaux was one of the first companies that started using objective methods of evaluating advertising efficiency and calculating audience. This is not an easy process. In 1990ies these methods were applied only in two countries – France and Britain. Today there is a pressure from the industry to expand the use of objective measurements and already 20 countries implemented elements of the modern OOH industry measurement system.

Outdoor advertising a special case for research
Outdoor advertising a special case for research.
The mobility medium -> The toughest challenge in audience research.
Guidelines recommend an integrated approach
Guidelines recommend an integrated approach
Outdoor accountability consistent methodology
Outdoor accountability consistent methodology

Today advertisers need to know accurately the size of the potential audience, analysis of its demographic composition. This is essential to establish the numbers and demographic profile of people passing panels to calculate reach and frequency of running video clips. This is where the advantages of digital advertising are the most evident. The more digital screens the company runs, the easier and cheaper it is to run the campaign. JCDecaux has a definite advantage in this area because it has been promoting the new digital media for a long time already.

At the same time JCDecaux introduces new terminology of outdoor marketing: we are already used to such terms as “Passenger Flow” - number of passages past a panel; “Opportunity To See” - number of passages that results in a possible contact with the panel; “Visibility Adjusted Contact” - number of passages that results in a probable contact with the ad, etc. As technology matures it become realistic to evaluate audience by the eye movements, calculate optimal lighting of an advertising site.

Thanks to the innovative methods of audience count, new trends started penetrating into outdoor advertising:

  • Planners are moving from buying media to buying audience;
  • OOH is unlike other media in that the medium is the message;
  • Outdoor is now well placed to provide relevant comparative data for Multi Media Planning.
The effectiveness of outdoor advertising
Purpose -> establish the numbers and demographic profile of people passing panels
to calculate reach and frequency

Creativity in Outdoor Advertising

With sufficient statistics accumulated, it was now possible to determine one factor common for all countries that affects effectiveness – this factor is creativity.

Three factors of effectiveness in the outdoor advertising
Three factors that characterize effectiveness of the outdoor advertising
JCDecaux creation tool in outdoor advertising
JCDecaux creation tool in outdoor advertising
Creativity and excellent brand attribution
A well-liked creative showing strong impact and excellent brand attribution

Whatever is said and done, the performance of any company is measured in profit. For the advertising operator this is only possible if its clients feel the profitability of advertising. This is why the objective methods of measuring efficiency of outdoor advertising are so important. For example, using objective evaluation it was shown that 80% of FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) campaigns result in short-term sales uplifts.

Statistics is stubborn. It clearly shows that Return-on-Investment grows proportionally to spending on advertising. That’s how this becomes another essential factor in measuring advertising efficiency.

Correlation between ROI and advertising spending
Correlation between Return-on-Investment and advertising spending

Digital Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor medium has benefited greatly from massive use of digital displays. The advertising content became more interesting, cheaper, new opportunities appeared for strategic positioning of brands, advertising became affordable, new methods of interactive advertising attract numerous clients. As a result, everyone wins.

Video wall in shopping mall Interactive video wall
Video wall in shopping mall Interactive video wall

Transport and indoor environments have progressively introduced digital screens. Outdoor is beginning to follow in this stride. Digital is so much better than paper stickers. Repetition is an important condition of efficiency. And repetition on outdoor screens and transport displays strengthens this effect threefold.

Outdoor advertising LED screen Advertising LCD totem in shopping mall
Outdoor advertising LED screen Advertising LCD totem in shopping mall

Research plays a key role when introducing innovations: from measuring consumer acceptance to ad effectiveness. Asked about advertising efficiency, people answer that digital advertising is a major trend that will shape the future of advertising. People think that digital advertising is:

  • Aesthetic – 92%
  • Visible – 92%
  • Eye-catching – 84%
  • Innovative – 79%

Comments from the Editor-in-Chief: we decided to offer this material for your attention not because we wanted to promote this Advertising Company, but because we think that the innovative approach of JCDecaux fully corresponds to our position. Digital media introduces diversity into our life, offers new opportunities, opens new prospects. Let there be more Digital!