Delivering creativity at scale in a digital out-of-home world

Feb. 9, 2016
Delivering creativity at scale in a digital out-of-home world

By Ben Putland, Chief Operating Officer, Grand Visual

The global digital out-of-home market is at a crossroads. The inventory is there, and its scale and ubiquity in cities around the world make it a valuable and exciting medium to work with. Programmatic trading and creative fulfilment systems are also now becoming a reality, and that means tactical, real-time, responsive campaigns are now possible and practical on a global scale.

The recent shift away from siloed systems and toward a more integrated future is paving the way for a new dynamic creative optimization, where the creative is agile, targeted and resonates with real-world events in real-world environments. That said, the number of well-executed dynamic, creatively optimized campaigns to come to fruition over the past few years have been light on the ground. I have pitched far more in the meantime, but, there seems to be a disconnect between media and creative that's not allowing these ideas to come to life.

So then the question has to be why are brands not capitalizing on the medium's full creative potential? As an industry, we need to foster better collaboration between creative and media agencies. Below I have outlined a few areas that we need to work on together in order to help move the medium on from its linear roots toward a more dynamic, interactive and experiential future.

Start with a data strategy and not a creative one

If your dynamically creatively optimized campaign, or your DCO campaign, is going to be relevant across multiple locations and change based on other conditions, then you have to start thinking about the data before you craft the copy. This can be a big challenge depending on where the brief may have originated from within agency land.

Once the datasets have been agreed to, an automated system needs to be created with well-defined rules to govern the playout of DCO content. This may need to be tweaked and adapted during the project lifecycle, but when it's done correctly a DCO campaign can be relevant for months compared to a traditional campaign that quickly becomes wallpaper.

DOOH is a medium that is perfect for DCO campaigns. Its large, bold, high-impact presence demands a fresh, evolving, and engaging creative approach that resonates with the audience mindset. Ultimately data and creative must work hand in hand.

Embrace the template — consider function before form

It's no longer a one-size-fits-all world. In order to deliver a successful DCO campaign, multiple sets of creative assets need to be produced — an ad system that works together as a unified whole. From a practical point of view, this means that campaigns must start with a template that allows for changes to be made on the fly according to predefined values. A well-considered template based on the design principles from the brand guidelines will match campaign art direction and allow the multiple permutations of copy to change and optimize the campaign throughout the flight.

Follow this simple checklist for DCO success

Delivering a DCO campaign is not difficult. Follow these few simple steps to ensure you get it right first time:

  1. Set aside enough time to plan and execute the production, you will need a minimum of eight weeks.
  2. Use existing campaign creative that can quickly be adapted by a production house and have some clear objectives.
  3. Assemble a small team from your media and creative agencies as well as a third party with specialist tools, knowledge and experience in delivering DCO campaigns.
  4. Embrace change and fail fast during production to get the messaging working, define early what can change once in flight so everyone knows the boundaries.
  5. Measure the responses from day one so you can optimize the creative on the fly. Test, measure, optimize, repeat.

Be brave and embrace the risk! Programmatic DOOH is here to stay — so strike out and be a pioneer — the sooner you get to grips with DCO, the sooner your media and creative budget starts working harder for you. Engagement comes from relevance. So minimize wastage, target more effectively and start direct conversations with your audience today.

Author Ben Putland will be a panelist on the session entitled, "Creative Innovation at Scale," at Digital Signage Expo 2016 on Thursday, March 17 from 8-9 a.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information on this or any educational program offered at DSE 2016 or to learn more about digital signage go to

Ben Putland is COO of Grand Visual, an award-winning production and creative technology company focused on unlocking the creative potential of the digital out-of-home medium. Putland heads up Grand Visual's business in the U.S. and has overseen the production of high-profile DOOH campaigns for clients such as Google, Pepsi, Disney and Microsoft. With more than 14 years of experience in delivering digital media innovation, Ben helps brands and their agencies to create disruptive outdoor ideas that reach consumers during the course of their everyday lives — blurring the lines between the physical and digital world.

Topics: Advertising, Content Management, DOOH Advertising, Trends / Statistics

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