Enhancing the passenger experience through design and data

Burberry Canary Wharf

Last month, a new permanent artwork honouring Frank Pick, London Transport’s first chief executive, was unveiled at Piccadilly Circus Tube station. Having commissioned many of the iconic London Underground design features in the early 1900s, Frank Pick is widely credited for establishing the visual style of London’s transport network and how passengers experience commuting through the Capital. From the globally-recognised Art Deco stations, Johnston typeface and London Underground roundel to the way that Harry Beck’s iconic Tube map shapes how customers see the geography of the city, design has been at the heart of defining London’s transport experience.

Design, fuelled by the use of data and new technologies, can enhance the transport environment and create new commercial opportunities. At Exterion Media, we understand the value of creating transport environments that are impactful, engaging and appealing for customers. This is reflected in the work we do with transport providers all over the country to elevate the passenger experience by enhancing physical spaces. Hello London, our ground-breaking media partnership with Transport for London (TfL) that launched in October, is a perfect example.

With Hello London, we’ve made sure to put passenger experience at the heart of our plans. We’ve worked closely with urban design and transport planning experts City ID, conducting extensive station audits, to create our own Planning & Placement Principles. These ensure that our ongoing transformation of the London Underground and Rail network will enrich the customer experience.

We have embarked on our ambitious vision to transform the advertising environment across the TfL Rail Estate, to the benefit of the 1.3 billion passengers that pass through the network every year. This will involve the introduction of higher-quality advertising displays, alongside the decluttering of existing advertising space across TfL stations and trains.

The first Hello London advertising formats debuted at Canary Wharf Tube station in October, when we switched on the biggest ever advertising screens on the London Underground network. Designed in collaboration with the original station architects, Foster and Partners, the Canary Wharf screens are a visually stunning platform for full-motion digital adverts. They also have dynamic data-driven capabilities, allowing for tailored content based on real-time information such as live business updates and current events. Greater investment in data and digital will generate further insight into how we make the journey environment more enjoyable, relevant and personalised for customers.

We believe in working with our partners to create a data ecosystem to better monetise Out of Home (OOH) environments through the use of data. Our various analytics tools and the greater insight that is available through new technologies plays an important role in helping us to shape our offering - and for transport authorities to better understand their audiences and improve services.

Data not only allows us to understand how we enhance the aesthetics of our media, it also means that we understand how people engage with OOH advertising. We conducted a recent study, The Engagement Zone, with Bournemouth University and Cog Research, which recently won best research initiative at the Media Research Group awards. The study used cutting-edge research technology such as skin conductance and eye tracking, in conjunction with survey data, to reveal how customers engage with advertising while commuting through London Underground.

The research demonstrates that individuals actively seek out advertising as they pass through London Underground. Almost all travellers surveyed were favourable to ads on the Underground, with the majority finding them a welcome distraction whilst on their journeys.

Passengers are in physical and emotional dialogue with their surroundings at every moment; they observe, engage and interact. The visual quality of a station impacts overall passenger experience so by improving the design of this environment, driven by data and digital, we can enhance the impact of these experiences, directly influencing customer satisfaction and opening up new commercial opportunities for transport network owners.

Like Frank Pick, we believe that the measure of good design is how well it functions in its environment. We are therefore improving the utility of our assets by combining the experience of our partners, data and digital technology to evolve how advertisers connect with passengers whilst finding innovative ways to improve the travel experience today. We will also continue to invest in initiatives like sponsorship of the TfL and London Transport Museum’s ‘Transported by Design’ programme, celebrating the role of good transport design in London in the past, present and future.

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