A Billboard for the Internet of Everything


Cisco Connected BillboardDigital out-of-home formats allow advertisers many different kinds of flexibility, which suggests a variety of exciting possibilities for the future of out-of-home media. Messaging that is aware of and responds to audience context is one such possibility.

A great example of context-aware out-of-home advertising is a Cisco campaign that took place recently in San Francisco. Working with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Cisco developed a roadside digital billboard that adjust the copy’s length and complexity based upon the speed of passing motorists. When traffic was moving quickly, the billboard displayed a simple tagline. When traffic slowed and motorists had more time to consider the copy, it delivered a longer message. Located along an important artery connecting the city to Silicon Valley, the connected billboard targeted attendees of a Cisco conference and demonstrated that the leading technology company can put the “Internet of Everything” into everyday practice.

This sort of simple and smart execution serves as inspiration on how to use sensors and data to adapt out-of-home advertising to changing audience behavior.

Posted in Data and Analytics, Digital Signage, Uncategorized

Blog On Hiatus


colorbarsKinetic Futures is taking a break from regular updates of this blog, but we encourage our readers to stay in touch with us via e-mail at info@kineticfutures.com

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Uncategorized

Creative Spotlight: “Coucou, Tu As Pris Le Pain?”


147In this ongoing feature, we select noteworthy out-of-home advertising campaigns and analyze the creative and media strategies that make them impactful.

The Campaign

From June to September 2013, Observatoire Du Pain, a lobby group for French millers and bakers, ran a static out-of-home poster campaign with the slogan “Coucou, Tu As Pris Le Pain?” (“Hey, did you pick up the bread?”).  The campaign was deployed on street furniture in 300 French towns and cities for three one-week posting cycles, and was complemented in ten major cities by a “reverse graffiti” campaign on city pavements. Paper bread loaf wrappers printed with the message “Coucou, J’ai Pris Le Pain!” (“Hey, I picked up the bread!”) were also distributed to bakeries.

The Concept

Baguettes rank with the Eiffel Tower and the tricolore as among the most powerful signifiers of France.  Yet though bread is accorded a place of pride in French culture, the country’s per-capita consumption of bread is diminishing in response to the diversification of French cuisine and the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets.  Stopping in at a local bakery to purchase bread is no longer a daily ritual for many French people.  Observatoire Du Pain sought to encourage people to make buying bread part of their routines and to recognize doing so as a means for connecting with others.

Why It Works

The “Coucou, Tu As Pris Le Pain?” campaign would not win any awards for witty creative, dynamic visuals, or clever use of novel technology.  Its media strategy, however, stands out for perfectly aligning message to media format, thus reflecting a deep understanding of the advantages of the out-of-home channel.

Out-of-home media intercepts its audiences as they go about their days, and while they are near physical points-of-purchase.  These attributes make it the ideal medium for Observatoire Du Pain’s campaign, which aimed to make bread-buying part of people’s daily routine.  By using street furniture, planners ensured that the campaign would be seen in an environment in which its message was immediately actionable: audiences could see a campaign poster, be reminded to pick up some bread, and within the next few minutes be inside a bakery buying a loaf. 

The campaign’s slogan, with its solicitous tone, is indicative of how Observatoire Du Pain aimed to modify behavior through gentle reminders rather than dramatic exhortations.  By running the campaign over the course of four months, with three week-long posting cycles, planners ensured that they delivered the kind of persistent but not intrusive messaging which would inspire people to change their daily routine.

By phrasing its slogan as a quote and a question like that a family member would ask, the campaign invites its audience to think of their loved ones, and to recognize bringing home bread as an act they can perform to show they care.  This message is particularly resonant for commuters, as it suggests a way to demonstrate that they think of their loved ones even while they are away from home.  The campaign thus addresses an emotional need-state rooted in the locational and temporal context shared by much of its audience.

Through its intelligent leveraging of out-of-home media’s capabilities,  “Coucou, Tu As Pris Le Pain?” highlights that advertising need not be flashy, visually sophisticated, or technologically advanced in order to be impactful.

Creative: Opinion Valley

Execution and Media: JCDecaux

Posted in Creative Spotlight, Shopping, Uncategorized

A Look Into Out-of-Home’s Past



In 1862, photographer Charles Marville was commissioned by the city of Paris to document a massive urban planning initiative which was to transform the French capital.  In doing so, Marville captured some of the earliest images of out-of-home media.  His photographs of Paris buildings marked for demolition are vivid depictions of the prevalence of out-of-home advertising— the city’s walls are a riot of posters and murals hawking a diverse array of goods and services.

In an effort to control this visual clutter, the municipality installed Paris’ first street furniture in the 1870s: vendor kiosks, poster columns, and even en plein air urinals featuring out-of-home advertisements, all captured by Marville’s camera.  These photographs provide a fascinating perspective on an important moment in the evolution of out-of-home media: the creation of officially sanctioned media sites.



A collection of 100 of Marville’s photographs are on view at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art until May 4th 2014; the show will be displayed at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts from  June 15th-September 14th 2014.

Posted in Uncategorized

Moving Up the Data Value Chain


OB-UZ632_google_G_20121017125550We have written at some length, both here and in our research publications, on the growing importance of data and analytics to media planning. That a better understanding of audience behavior allows for more effective marketing practice is undisputed, but it is considerably less apparent how best to arrive at this information. One reflection of this confusion is the debate within the broader business community as to whether greater value resides in proprietary datasets or the analytical tools used to process them. Of course, both data and analysis are essential to deriving actionable insights, but they suggest very different approaches to realizing value in a given industry.

Debating this very point on a panel at last week’s Structure Data conference in New York, Hilary Mason of Accel Partners and Sven Strohband of Khosla Ventures managed to reconcile these disparate positions by describing a shift in emphasis as industry verticals mature. As their ability to collect, aggregate, store, and process data expand, companies pursue competitive advantage by discovering and exploiting new sources of data pertinent to their businesses. As the collection and analysis of these data becomes widespread within a sector, however, the value of amassing proprietary datasets diminishes. Eventually, the relevant datasets become commodities, and the proprietary tools applied to these data become far more important as points of differentiation.

The online advertising sector offers a useful illustration of this shift in value over time. Consolidated media networks like AOL and Yahoo dominated the space in its early years, but as sources of behavioral data have proliferated, the fortunes of these companies have turned. Some of that lost market value has been captured by advertising technology providers who collect and integrate data from across the web. (Interestingly, as the efficacy of web cookies is being challenged by changing consumer behavior, the value of proprietary datasets may again be on the rise.)

Out-of-home media planning has long been constrained by the relative dearth of audience data. Basic measurement currencies have been developed in most large markets, but these systems offer static and fragmented views of the out-of-home media ecosystem. Media owners and agencies may commission research to supplement these assessments of media value, but few stakeholders have perceived a need to invest heavily in analytical capabilities.

This could change as powerful new datasets are made available. Today, out-of-home audience data are everywhere: information on the flow of traffic along roadways is collected by smartphones and GPS devices; the movement of people is tracked by mobile network operators; retailers collect detailed information on their customers; and cross-device analytics offer a coherent view of media consumption across channels. The challenge that now faces the out-of-home sector is not collecting data but rather extracting meaningful insight from the wealth of data to which the sector now has access.

Posted in Data and Analytics, Location Awareness, Mobile Technology

Development: Wearable Computing


google-introduces-android-wearEarly entrants into the wearable computing sector like Pebble will soon face a much more crowded field, as ever-growing numbers of major technology companies announce wearable computing products.

Last week, Google debuted Android Wear, a new version of its Android operating system designed for wearables, and Motorola and LG previewed Android Wear smartwatches.  Meanwhile, Apple is widely believed to be developing a wearable computing device with a companion health-focused mobile application, images of which were leaked online last week.

Wearable computing devices of all stripes promise to expand mobile media’s impact, presenting the out-of-home channel with both challenges and opportunities.  Read our past commentary on the topic below, and look for forthcoming posts continuing to share our thinking on this evolving sector.

Personal Area Networks and the Value of Synergy

Pay-per-Gaze: Out-of-Home Through A Digital Lens

Smart Watches and Smartphones: Complements, Not Competitors

Google Glass Makes Privacy Threats Visible

Google Envisions the Future of Mobile Media

New Mobile Form Factors

Posted in Mobile Technology, Uncategorized

Programmatic Goes Broadcast


Family_watching_television_1958Of the many misunderstandings which surround programmatic trading, the belief that it is synonymous with real-time bidding is particularly pernicious. This confusion makes it difficult for some to understand how programmatic trading could ever be implemented in channels lacking the one-to-one addressability real-time bidding requires.  Media buying in broadcast channels, however, is already on its way to automation.

Last week Adap.TV, a programmatic video advertising platform recently acquired by AOL, announced the debut of its new demand-side platform (DSP), Audience Path for TV.  The platform uses Nielsen audience measurement data and set-top box viewing data from Rentrak to enable media buyers to target audience segments more precisely than is possible through conventional television buying.  It also offers media buyers a single platform through which to buy inventory across video-capable channels, including online, television, and mobile.  Digital out-of-home media, however, is absent from this array.

Due to the unique measurement difficulties it presents, digital out-of-home media is the most challenging video-capable channel to bring into the programmatic fold.  While the merits of so-called “video-agnostic” media buying are debatable, Adap.TV’s new DSP shows that automated trading has come to broadcast media.  In order to understand what this could mean for the out-of-home channel, greater literacy in programmatic trading is needed across the sector.  Specialists in particular need to be able to tell their DSPs from their DMPs.

Posted in Data and Analytics, Digital Signage, Uncategorized

Personal Area Networks and the Value of Synergy


Gear4_16x9_992Advertisers recognize the value of orchestrating their marketing efforts across an array of channels, leveraging strengths and compensating for limitations which emerge from how audiences of each channel behave.  By utilizing a range of media formats, they amplify the reach and impact of their communications above what could be achieved using a single channel.

Though common in the world of marketing communications, such a “portfolio approach” is not a rule of thumb for mobile computing products. Manufacturers of personal devices have often chased the dream of designing a single product to satisfy an array of ultimately incompatible consumer needs—consider the failed efforts of Microsoft, LG, and Samsung to launch smart-watches that combined the features of phones, PDAs, and watches.

Of late, hardware manufacturers seem keenly aware of the limitations of an “all-in-one” approach.  They are increasingly offering consumers an array of personal devices, each designed to serve a specific set of needs: tablets, phablets, smartwatches, fitness tracking devices, smartphones, and soon, heads-up-displays like Google Glass. Many individuals already carry a number of these devices with them throughout their days.

Wireless standards, such as Bluetooth, allow these personal devices to exchange information and form what some technologists refer to as a personal-area network or PAN. This, in turn, enables a division of labor across devices, such that each device takes on a specialized role in serving its user’s needs. 

Consumers value the immediacy of information delivered through smartwatches, for instance, and accept their severe limitations only because most also carry phones or tablets with which they can accomplish tasks that are impossible on a tiny, wrist-worn display.

This symbiosis of devices within a PAN is not dissimilar to that which occurs between media in multichannel campaign. Though marketers sometimes regard “mobile” as a monolith, the proliferation of PANs suggests that we must attend to the heterogeneity of formats within the channel. It demands that we consider how to harness the value of specialization and orchestration not only across channels, but within them.

Such an orientation would be advantageous if brought to bear in any channel encompassing a diversity of media formats, including out-of-home. With media ranging from wheat-paste posters on street corners to digital screens in physician waiting rooms, out-of-home is an expansive and heterogeneous channel. To fully capture its value, marketers must appreciate and leverage its diversity just as they acknowledge the diversity that exists across channels.

Posted in Digital Signage, Mobile Technology, Uncategorized

Reconsidering Mobile and Out-of-Home


iStock_000017099889MediumThough mobile advertising was long ago proclaimed the next big thing in marketing, advertisers have remained relatively cautious in their embrace of this new channel. Some express concern that the size of smartphone screens limits the efficacy of display ads, while mobile ad networks still struggle to provide behavioral targeting without the use of web cookies. With industry observers reporting a doubling of mobile display advertising revenues in 2013, however, the channel’s moment may have finally arrived. Analysts now predict that mobile advertising expenditures will overtake desktop advertising revenue by 2017. This dramatic growth will likely be spurred further by the development of unique, device-based identifiers, which should allow for more effective behavioral tracking and targeting.

Mobile devices offer marketers a new way to reach audiences outside of the home, and so the rapid growth of mobile advertising revenues might be perceived as a threat to conventional out-of-home formats. This is an assumption worth challenging, however. There is little doubt that mobile can serve as a highly effective communications channel in a variety of contexts, but it is not an obvious substitute for out-of-home media. The audiences for the two channels overlap, but they are not the same: mobile users are often assumed to be on the move, but research conducted by InsightsNow for AOL and BBDO shows that 68% of smartphone use in the US actually takes place at home. Furthermore, a Google survey of smartphone users in 47 countries found that the home was the environment most often identified by respondents as a location in which they used their mobile. Out-of-home and mobile also reach consumers at different points on the path to purchase.  While out-of-home media are understood to generate awareness, consumers use smartphones to aid their decision-making by searching for information on specific products or services.

These contrasts offer an opportunity for the channel to articulate a symbiotic relationship between out-of-home and mobile. If the out-of-home industry is to prosper in a rapidly changing marketing ecosystem, this is an opportunity it cannot let pass.

Posted in Location Awareness, Mobile Technology, Uncategorized

Creative Spotlight: British Airways “Look Up”


In this ongoing feature, we select noteworthy out-of-home advertising campaigns and analyze the creative and media strategies which make them impactful.

britishairways_interactiveadThe Campaign

In November 2013, British Airways debuted its “Look Up” campaign on two iconic digital bulletin sites in London. The billboards feature a video of a young child pointing to the sky, which plays whenever a British Airways plane passes overhead. In each instance, the plane is identified on screen by its flight number and destination. In between flights, the bulletins display a static message: “More Flights to More Destinations”.

The Concept

Though many children are fascinated and amazed by airplanes, this feeling is usually lost as they grow up.  When adults think of air travel, they often think of its frustrations: delayed or cancelled flights, long lines, onerous screening procedures, fees, and lost luggage among them. All of these factors contribute to a general view of flying as an annoyance rather than an adventure. The campaign reminds audiences of the magic of air travel, restoring their childhood sense of awe at the wonder of flight.

Why It Works

The concept for this campaign fully integrates the advertising message with the context of its delivery, bridging the divide between media and creative strategies. Removed from its context, the video would be unremarkable.  The ability of the child on the billboard to “see” the plane passing overhead, however, surprises and delights by puncturing the divide between the screen’s virtual world and its physical surroundings. 

Following the child’s gaze upwards, audience members are encouraged to identify with the child and recall the awe they felt as children when they saw a plane in the sky. In this way, amazement at the digital trick played by the advertisement gives way to wonder at flight itself. Far too often, technologies are used in advertising simply because of their novelty. Here, they are integral to the communication and crucial to its success—leveraging the technological “wow” factor reminds viewers anew of how incredible it is that we can fly.

By calling attention to the plane’s destination, the billboard also highlights the global interconnectedness that is the true magic of air travel.  The campaign invites audiences to see planes as reminders of the opportunities for exploration that flight offers, rather than as unremarkable elements of the urban environment. In this way, the campaign’s message reverberates beyond the reach of the two billboards, prompting people to take notice of planes overhead, wherever they are, and think of British Airways.  When they do so, it will be with a renewed sense of flight’s wonder—and perhaps a little less thought toward all its attendant annoyances.

Creative: Ogilvy One / 12th Floor

Execution and Media: Clear Channel UK/Storm

Posted in Creative Spotlight