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


TfL’s London Underground wifi pilot results..... an interesting read..

TfL’s London Underground wifi pilot

Transport for London is always striving to improve customer service and push forward with the adoption of new technologies, which on an underground network over 150 years old is no mean feat….

TfL’s smartcard system, Oyster, is one of the most success smartcard ticketing systems in the world, with over 19 million smartcard journey’s taken each work day.  In recent times we’ve seen the introduction of contactless payment making the need for a physical ticket redundant whilst significant reducing queuing.

As you can image, through all the passenger interactions across the London Underground network, 1.37 billion passenger journeys, TfL has a fortune of data to help guide improvements and direct passenger insight. Understanding passengers travel behaviours, not only on the normal, uninterrupted computes but also when faced with travel disruptions, is invaluable in TFL’s development.

Free wifi across London Underground, in partnership with Virgin Mobile, now has connectivity across 97% of stations. This step change acknowledges the changes in behaviour, demands and the reliance we all have on our smartphones and mobile devices. Our appetite for instant information and connectivity continues to grow, with an expectation for access wherever we are, including 58 meters underground.

TFL undertook a 4 week data collection pilot across Nov- Dec ’16  Announcements throughout the selected 54 station were ever present, with an option to opt out, if preferred. All data was collected anonymously and protected so encrypted couldn’t be decoded.

TfL identified 4 key areas to prioritise*

  • Customer information: could WiFi connection data provide better customer information for journey planning and avoiding congestion? 
  • Operations and safety information: could understanding customer movements in stations help us deploy our people to best meet customer needs, and manage disruptions and events more effectively? 
  • Transport planning: by better understanding how our customers use the Tube network, could we plan timetables, and our station designs and upgrades, more efficiently? 
  • Prioritising investment: by measuring customer footfall and movements through and around stations, could we assess the effectiveness 

Over the data collecting period, TFL secured more than 500 million anonymous  connection requests from 5.6 million devises, with King’s Cross St. Pancras generating 37.6 million 

There was naturally a wealth of information collected, but key takeouts are 

  1. Passengers know underground network better than maybe we give them credit for. This was demonstrated at an interchange station, where passengers moving from 1 line to other, walked a quick/back route, with the majority not following the signposted route. 
  2. The balance between the quickest route and the more comfortable, less congested route is a key travel consideration 
  3. An example of the busiest times in trains, carrying 1100+ passengers reduced to 700+ is just a 10 minute window either side of 8.20am 
  4. When faced with a line being disrupted passengers take a selection of alternative routes, not always the most direct. 
  5. The report also demonstrates the complexities of targeting specific journeys and passenger interaction with the network. In one example, it reports 18 different routes between Kings Cross St Pancras and Waterloo, whilst highlighting the share of mobile devices connecting to the wifi service on each route 
  6. The data collected will also help optimise TfL’s retail offering across the network, identifying the best locations for both retailers and passengers

 All this data will assist TfL to improve customer service and in turn staff deployment across the network. As this pilot was such a success TfL are planning a full roll out. 

The full report is really worth a read & can be found

Enjoy !! 

*Source; TfL Review of the TfL WiFi pilot Sept ‘17


O2 The Oops moments.....

As I’ve mentioned before there is continued frustration at the slow catch up between the capabilities of digital OOH screens & the lack of imagination or perhaps, knowledge as to how to utilise these big shiny screens at their best.

Lost in this conversation is what’s happening in the classic creative space of OOH. More often than not it’s generic copy, assets which run across all media platforms with little or no adaption for the environment in which it sits, how and when/where it is consumed, nor the visual lead etc….

However, O2 latest campaign for replacing broken phone screens for new customers has really bucked the trend. I’m a huge fan of special builds on static sites, as long as it’s to scale rather than a one off for solely for PR purposes. Although this is still minimal, it moving in the right direction.

Each build is in O2 style and includes a’ fallen’ billboard with a cracked screen image, some with builders barriers for added impact.

Whilst a simple idea, capitalising on the “Oops moment…” that moment when your phone slips away from you, only to be retrieved with a smashed screen, really resonates with the majority...

This execution has truly engaged with both the public and the advertising creative community. Twitter chatter has gained pace with those checking whether a billboard has really slipped from its frame, which only adds to the campaigns distribution. Outdoor forms a leading part of a multi-channel campaign, with TV and digital content exposing real life situations.

It’s genuinely great to see outdoor form the foundations of a campaign on which to build greater connections, followed through with TV and digital distribution, and with traditional OOH at that.


Creative: VCCP London

Planned:  AdCity Havas