Collaboration between Creative and Media

I was fortunate to attend the JCDecaux UpFront session a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. It was a fantastic morning, with a brilliant schedule of speakers, including Sir John Hegarty and Justin Gibbon, plus guest video appearances from Mark Ritson and Les Binet, all kept on their toes by Morag Blazey

Sir John Hegarty always inspires me, if anything, in saying what you really think. He seems to see the media and marketing world fairly black & white, and he has the ability to cut through all the fluffy language & the self-imposed, self-importance that is often perpetuated in a room of industry professionals.

What resonated with me most, and rather frustratingly, is that the huge gap between media and creative still remains, and doesn’t appear to be coming together any time soon. Common sense tells us that working together, can create compelling, impactful, memorable campaigns. And the reverse is also true, creating a memorable campaign for all the wrong reasons when scheduled in the wrong place, as the image above demonstrates.

A key mantra for the many that enter the industry is “the right audience, with the right message, at the right time, in the right place.  Which in itself, means creative and media working together to accomplish these basic principles. The lack of communication/collaboration between the creative dept. & the media dept. has become self-perpetuating.

I have never understood why the two aren’t working side by side to amplify their client’s message, sharing in the common goal. Closing that gap between DOOH creative and media placement is a personal passion of mine and in theory, should be so easily achieved and one where everyone wins. The resistance in some instances is territorial, but more than anything it’s habit, nothing more than “we’ve always done it this way.”

Sadly, the issues often originate from clients, they can be their own worst enemy, defeating themselves before the off. If clients brief everyone together they will always be the biggest winners, they may have to referee collaboration in the earlier days as things settle, but if they persevere they will see the benefits, those that don’t adapt will fall by the wayside.

One of the driving factors when I created Cheil Media, was to both physically and strategically immerse media into the creative process. We sat the media planning/buying in the middle of the creative floor so in an instant they were able to bounce ideas and concepts, overhear issues or concerns both ways, exchanged inspirations before they were lost to distraction, involving all teams before putting any crosses on a plan.

There was a bit of back to basics. We dressed a wall with images, taken a from a consumer perspective, of all main D/OOH inventory so they became familiar with sites and how they are consumed. We had monthly briefings, sharing information on new D/OOH capabilities, along with the how, why, when & should, they could be integrated into campaigns.

We introduced creative teams to technologists, developers and media owners so conversation and ideas flowed easily, and not lost in the search of who to speak to if we weren’t on hand.

As a result, we delivered 10 media first in 3.5 years for Samsung UK/Global. I’m not saying it always ran smoothly, but the intention was there to optimise creative assets even on the most straightforward of broadcast buys, through to the more exciting product launches and spectaculars that gained global recognition.

Universally, much of D/OOH creative work is developed and crafted on a desktop screen in a windowless office with no perception of where and how the final ad is going to be seen.  No concept of visual lead-in, angle of audience consumption, messaging relevance to the consumer, nor the environment, for example, a mall 6 sheet is consumed very differently to a 6 sheet on Bank Station’s platform, a bus shelter or a bus side drop T. Dwell time is different, orientation is different, mindset is different, elevation is different, yet the creative displayed is the very often exactly the same, and worst still it may be the same as that seen in the morning newspaper or monthly magazine.

Digital is our norm, but it still has its problems. We have seen some shocking and inappropriate advertising placements next to news reports online which are a result of programmatic buying, an automated/auction ad buying system. For example, diets products next to reports on the devastating day to day of those living with famine, although this is the extreme it is not uncommon.

DOOH cuts through all of these issues, with no fear of content issues. With the influx of DOOH deployment, advertising messaging can move as audiences move throughout the day, messaging relevance can engage at different times – on the commute, socialising, changing with the weather/traffic/location. GPS on transport can connect to digital screens placed around the city and/or on transport networks/bus shelters & so on. Tapping into a receptive mindset with contextual and relevant creative in the right environment has much deeper brand effectiveness and greater potential to purchase.

We know movement is engaging, full motion DOOH is 2.5 times* more impactful than its equivalent static site, delivering a powerful emotional experience with heightened brand impacts contributing to brand effectiveness. However, many global markets have clear guidelines as to what can appear where, with restrictions on video/movement on roadside to avoid driver distraction, therefore smart buying with contextualised creative should be baked into campaign scheduling.

Key to all of these is the flow of information, creative teams can’t challenge the norm unless they are made aware of channel capabilities, are involved from the start and are briefed alongside media. Media can’t plan and buy the best unless they understand if there are mandatory assets to be used, the creative direction and ambitions.

A very simple change to internal structure and process will optimise both creative strategy and media budgets. A win-win for all, especially the client.

For more information on Diversiffi Media’s workshops, Closing the gap on Media and Creative, please contact me at

*Brand Science;

Closing the gap between creative & media planning on DOOH

The investment in Digital Out of Home has brought new energy, vigour & creative expression to our high streets, malls & transport hubs. Yet the gap between creative executions, media planning & media owners is widening rather than narrowing.

It has become more evident as I travel through creative agencies & media owners, and was reinforced at LDSW/ DailyDooh BAFTA event, that many are facing similar frustrations at the disconnect & struggle to understand how to navigate all the stakeholders involved.

Having a career that spans as a media owner, with a global client & creating a media agency immersed in the creative process, I feel justified in having a view as to where those disconnects often lie. With the dynamic team at Cheil Media, we delivered 10 media 1sts, including 2 World 1sts, by immersing media planning into the creative process, & bringing creative into the conversation early. I still recall the amazing executions that sadly didn't make the cut, but may still the light of day.

The capabilities in creative for DOOH, are well known i.e, immediacy, flexibility, environment relevancy, audience relevancy, day part, video content distribution where allowed, etc. with automation & programmatic gathering pace.

However, the barriers in utilising all these possibilities usually originate in company processes and structures, with little knowledge shared with those at the drawing board, to enable a collaborative approach in using DOOH to its fullest capability to generate deeper audience engagement.

I appreciate many are making great steps in joining the dots, but delivering creative relevance at scale is not the norm & is still a long way off.

In the early days, DOOH interactive executions were designed as one-offs, creating content for further distribution on other platforms, & not in celebration of DOOH in its own right. Grand Visual was the king in facilitating these unique executions such as Pepsi Max, but were frequently hindered by escalating costs for scaling up, along with media owners caution & long lead times.

We then moved to dynamic, which was a fabulous step in broadcasting near real-time content, but even today it not seen as standard, as it should be.

The disconnect between creative & its final location starts early, with media often being briefed ahead of creative with little connection to planning teams, crushing any joined-up thinking or sharing of ideas, locations, network capabilities & the canvases DOOH can offer.

As a result, creative teams are often left with very minimal time to develop fresh ideas when presented with a bought media schedule in which they have no context. Being presented with a plan that needs assets delivered in 48 hours, means the creative juices are dampened into a pure production turnaround.

Undoubtedly creative teams love D/OOH, and there is an appetite to explore innovative possibilities, but few are entirely aware of the network capabilities and how different channels can ‘talk' to each other. Without detailed knowledge, they can't be expected to realise how far they can push their ideas and work with media owners to deliver.

Another obstacle in the mix is that many, not all, media owner sales teams don't have a grasp on what their own networks can do, or how those networks either compare or compliment other networks.

The beauty of DOOH is its potential for immediacy & therefore reactionary, to turn on relevancy by location, to move screens with the movement of audiences throughout the day, context through the day itself, the environment the screens are situated in, as well as news, weather, traffic & other external elements

This disconnect between clients, media planning, account planning and creatives can be a navigational disaster for those trying to optimise creative capabilities & break new ground.

Add in the plethora of data we now have access to, which shouldn't tighten or constrict reach, but embrace DOOH flexibilities values as a broadcast media. By merging data from Route, mobile, behaviour sources etc. gives a better understanding of the behaviour of those moving through our towns & cities. As a result, clients should be presented with executions that achieve audience relevancy, contextualisation, fun, entertainment & are memorable.

You need an experienced account team who can bring all parties together to drive the client cores messaging to its maximum, accompanied by fixated planners & creative teams, plus much more visibility & activity from media owners in the creative space. Again, there is ground being made here, but the detachment of DOOH investment & creative exploitation are a taxis ride apart...

You will always need a curious, open-minded client who looks at audience engagement first but the rewards in joining forces, briefing early & sharing ideas pre-media planning means everybody wins.

The changing face of our urban streets

The face of urban transport is going through massive disruption. We are seeing more & more bikes on our street as commuter’s swap to cycling as their main form of transport, & in all weathers not just in fair weather.

Cycling really upped its game following successes from Sir Chris Hoy  & team GB in London 2012.  Hoy, Froome & Wiggins are now household names & they have played an important role in creating a true cycling movement.

Cycling in London is the fastest growing mode of transport, indexing at 240, with an increase of 145% in the last 10 years. This explosion in cycle usage is not confined to the UK, we are seeing an urban global movement

In addition to getting from A to B, & anywhere in between, cycling is proven to have many health benefits. Not only does cycling promote both mental wellbeing & physically health - there nothing better than building your exercise regime into your day, rather than post work having to trudge off to the gym- there’s the public transport ££ savings, as well as individual contribution into carbon footprint reduction.

The UK government has also recognised the importance of cycling by investing £1.2 billion to adapt & remodel key pathways to encourage more bikes, & foot power, onto our streets.*  Likewise, they are only too aware of the catastrophe cities are facing with air pollution and the challenges with increased traffic congestion.

Disappointingly, London exceeded its ANNUAL air pollution limit by February this year, & the Citys limit of 18 breaches of air quality regulations was used up in January, so anything that helps offset carbon is welcomed with open arms.

Simultaneously, many companies recognise the value in motivating both customers & their employees in activities that protect health & wellbeing. Equally, they are exploring new platforms to demonstrate their commitment to their corporate social responsibility.

The take up of cycling is predominately the millennial generation & above, who as we know are, curious by nature, they need to know the reason for doing a task before they do it; a generation of immediate gains; a discerning, socially conscientious ‘group’ who are early adopters and naturally competitive. They are Digital Natives, who have shaped the technology revolution & intriguingly, are less interested in ownership & material objects, but they have a thirst for experiences. They have a social conscience & look to make their individual contributions. However, the challenges for brands is that they are notoriously difficult to reach through traditional communication platforms.

We also know that they buy into brands that share their values & beliefs, & are quick to dismiss those who don’t.

The TfL cycling scheme, now sponsored by Santander, has been hugely successful in giving all access to bikes, mainly for part journeys or for tourists. Though the bubble has burst a bit on the cycle to work scheme as the barriers remain, you still need to go through the pain of choosing a bike & sorting all the kit, and asking for a significant ££ commitment before they know they’re going to like, even when spread over a number of months but the tax benefit is not to be sniffed at.

Two very smart UK chaps, Andy Nunn, an avid cyclist, & Tom Hares a marketeer, have recognised what’s really needed is a subscription scheme, no contract, where riders have a permanent bike & kit, plus where maintenance & insurance are all taken care of. They then connect the rider to the bike through an app which recorded journeys, activity, carbon offset, calories, ££ saved on public transport & can connect to other riders to compete on leaderboards & gain rewards.

Welcome to Buzzbike, the scheme of now & the future. Their dream is to inspire a new generation of cyclists, and create a movement that could help make cycling the dominant mode of transport

 A brilliant idea, & one that embraces the values of the Millennial generation & opens the gateway for brands to connect on both a 1-2-1 & the wider community, through a fully branded bike & white labelled app achieving brand ubiquity, whilst promoting health & wellbeing & demonstrate their commitment in actioning their corporate social responsibility.

This kind of partnership is the future of connecting to those hard to reach audiences. We know, the richer the experience, the deeper the brand integration is cemented into the memory, & the greater the long-term connection, creating a lifetime association & loyalty.

Feel free to make contact me for more information

Source Tfl; The Guardian; Buzzbike; Fiona FitzGibbon

JC Decaux UK digital play-out verified by PwC

Mid December JCDecaux announced that PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP UK (PwC) has independently audited its digital play-out verification process. This is such a reflection of how JCD determine their own path. lead the UK marketing in accountability & trustworthiness. They don’t wait for doubt to set in, they acknowledge how they believe the market should behave and act on it. 

Whilst at Samsung UK I called regularly for DOOH owners to supply posting reports. At that time we were a good few years into the DOOH explosion & the key conversation had already moved onto the integration of programmatic,  but still, a posting basic posting report request was beyond many, and when delivered it was often just an accessible excel spreadsheet.

In a joint press release, they explain the audit covers JCDecaux’s delivery and reporting of UK digital campaigns across their estate, meeting advertisers’ requirement for transparency in digital media. PwC audited the end-to-end process of JCDecaux’s proprietary media planning and booking platform, SmartBRICs for the three months ended 30 September 2017.

The compliance audit is evidence of JCDecaux’s commitment to providing quality and value to its partners and was an integral promise in its brand first charter BranDO launched at the IAB Digital Upfronts in October this year. BranDO comprises guidelines on the issues of viewability, measurement, accountability, transparency and brand safety, providing a benchmark for DOOH as JCDecaux moves towards a more automated delivery model.
PwC’s audit was conducted in accordance with ISAE 3000 Assurance Engagements other than Audits and Reviews of Historical Financial Information issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board. 

“We made public our objective to provide a brand safe canvas for advertisers and agencies with the launch of BranDO. Digital online has real issues surrounding verification, measurement, brand safety and accountability and we are determined to ensure that Digital OOH puts the brand first and delivers for advertisers. The fact that PwC has independently audited our process for delivering and reporting UK digital campaigns is a proof point of our commitment. This stamp of approval is a real milestone in JCDecaux’s digital evolution and we hope it will become a reference point for the whole of the outdoor sector”  Spencer Berwin, Co-Chief Executive Officer at JCDecaux 

JCDecaux’s directors’ statement and methodology clearly sets out the end-to-end process for the delivery and reporting of campaigns across its UK digital network. Advertisers are increasingly demanding verified data with which to measure their marketing spend, so we are delighted to see JCDecaux taking the initiative by engaging us to conduct a robust audit in order to build trust in the strength and transparency of the DOOH sector. Now that our audit is finalised, any advertiser or brand whose campaign is fully managed through SmartBRICs can do so with confidence that its campaign results are being reported completely and accurately”  Sam Tomlinson, Partner and leader of PwC’s Media Insight & Assurance team

Next is the delivery of planning & buying through automation, not programmatic… Let’s get everyone on the same page in language & definition, and 2018 should prove to be an exciting year!

Ocean Outdoors 3rd wave of neuroscience research does more than validate the impact of DOOH.

Ocean Outdoor has been committed to demonstrating the effectiveness of DOOH, as well as the impact achieved in combination with other media channels.

 The research determines how full motion digital out of home (DOOH) campaigns are 2.5 times more impactful than content on static displays, delivering a powerful emotional experience comparable to that of television advertising.

The research, conducted by Neuro-Insight for Ocean Outdoor, used brain imaging to explore the neurological impact of digital out of home content on audiences. The study benchmarks the responses obtained against television and online video campaigns.

This wave of Ocean’s Neuroscience research programme analysed brain response to full motion and static out of home adverts.  The emphasis was on three key brain response metrics which, in combination, have been shown to correlate strongly with real world effectiveness:

Peaks in emotional response

  • How positive that emotional response was
  • The number of brand impacts encoded into memory
  • From the resulting responses, neuroscientists concluded:
  • Both static and full motion content delivered high levels of positive emotional response
  • Full motion creative however delivered more branded peaks of memory encoding

The net impact of these measures in combination equated to a 2.5 stronger impact for full motion digital out of home compared to static. The results indicate that full motion DOOH has a comparable impact to television and has the capability to build brand equity rather than just deliver a brand impact

Ocean head of marketing Helen Haines said: “Previous neuroscience studies have established that iconic, large format advertising delivers heightened emotional response and strong memory encoding, and that this impact is heightened by full motion content.

“We also knew going into this study, that premium sites have a positive priming effect on other OOH advertising.  This new study takes those learnings further to show that full motion content delivers 2.5 more brand impacts over static displays.

“We’ve now established that DOOH delivers brain responses that are comparable to that of television advertising and that it works in a similar way, delivering multiple impacts and a strong emotional response: two key components that contribute to driving real world sales.”

Ocean’s new study also measured short form video to see how it performed in DOOH environments compared to online.

The results indicated that short-form online video content elicited higher levels of response when delivered via a full motion DOOH screen, and delivered more peaks of branded memory response.  This means the presence of full motion DOOH alongside an online campaign gives opportunities to positively prime the brain to respond strongly to content when seen subsequently in an online context.

“Full motion DOOH is a growing delivery vehicle for short-form video content, but the study shows that it primes the brain to respond more strongly when the same content is viewed online. Which means online video campaigns will perform better if full motion DOOH is included in the media plan,” said Helen Haines.  

More generally, the study also demonstrated some characteristics of full motion DOOH that help drive high levels of positive brain response.  Subtle (not necessarily overt) brand iconography, bright and contrasting colours and images of people and faces delivered a heightened sense of response when viewed within a DOOH environment.

With many UK media vendors investing heavily into the DOOH market, Ocean Outdoor continues to lead the industry in substantiating the influence DOOH has on building an emotional connection for brands

Source: Ocean Outdoor;  Neuro-Insight