Making the most of 'big data'

Virgin Media 48-Sheet

It is almost impossible to read any publication without coming across an article that talks about data or more specifically “big data”; how it can transform businesses, why it is vital that they get on board the data gravy train and how if they don’t they will fail.

But what does “big data” really mean, and what impact does it have on organisations – in particular transport and media companies?

Summing it up quite nicely, Harlan Harris, co-founder of Data Community DC, says: “To me, “big data” is the situation where an organization can (arguably) say that they have access to what they need to reconstruct, understand, and model the part of the world that they care about. Using their big data, then, they can (try to) predict future states of the world, optimize their processes, and otherwise be more effective and rational in their activities”.

At Exterion Media, we care about our audiences and how they move about their daily lives outside of the home; the journeys they make, when and where they make them and how to engage with them on the move. Whilst on the surface this may seem fairly straight forward, when you start to think more deeply about it, the task we are faced with is understanding everyone, everywhere, all of the time – no mean feat.

Why do we want to do this? We use data to ensure our clients and agencies communicate with their target audiences in the most optimal manner. This is not just by ensuring that their campaigns are efficiently delivered but also that the message being delivered is contextually correct based on time and location. This delivers a better ROI to our clients and for Exterion Media this encourages more business through robust proof-points, demonstrating our media is working hard.

However, there is one critical part of people’s lives where this knowledge is easier to come by and that is through point-to-point transport networks. Transport companies collect this type of information through their ticketing operations in addition to the huge amounts of data collected through other day-to-day operational activities.

I believe that it is only through a collaborative approach, based on partnership, that we can realise the true value of all of this data. Our new contract with Transport for London (TfL) works on this basis. Having a close relationship with TfL is helping us build technology that will allow us to evaluate and measure the audiences that flow through the London Underground network; from point of entry, through the station environment, and to final exit.

The challenge that the Out-of-Home industry faces is the ability of digital and mobile media channels to target audiences with seemingly increasing precision. Where previously we were reliant on modelled and static data we now have the capability to interrogate rich information that identifies valuable and marketable audiences in large numbers.

This is a key point – where digital media focuses on a one-to-one communication, we provide advertisers with the opportunity to talk to their audiences at scale. By understanding the composition of the crowd, we give clients a unique opportunity to provide their audiences with contextually relevant messaging in the right place and at the right time. Our innovative partnership approach is allowing us to develop these ground breaking solutions for our clients. The benefit realises itself in increasing revenues and allows us to attract money that might otherwise have been spent in alternative digital media.

Last year, Exterion Media completed trials with Beacons on over 500 TfL buses. A Beacon can send content and/or offers or redemptions to bus commuters via a call to action on the bus advertising, and enables advertisers to link an Out-of-Home campaign with proximity mobile messaging. One of the trial campaigns across 200 buses for a film launch delivered greater downloads than the equivalent national TV campaign, proving that when you combine high dwell time (a bus journey) with a desire to be entertained consumers will interact. Additionally, by opting in to a download we also collect more data about our audiences.

Exterion Media is at the forefront of utilising data responsibly to make Out-of-Home advertising more effective. As more smart systems are deployed by transport operators, we are perfectly positioned to understand and leverage the value of the data collected through these platforms.   

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