Talon Outdoor: how the US and UK markets are enabling data-driven creativity in Out of Home

Thoughts from Jon Conway of Talon and Dan Dawson of Grand Visual

Talon and Grand Visual attended and participated in the recent annual Geopath/OAAA 2018 conference. The theme was data-driven creativity and Jon Conway – Chief Strategy Officer, Talon – and Dan Dawson – Chief Creative and Technology Officer, Grand Visual – discussed some of the differences between the US and UK markets, plus they assess what the future holds for the global Out of Home industry.

Jon Conway – We recently opened Talon New York, our first office outside of the UK. The Geopath/OAAA conference felt like the ideal opportunity to see the US industry up close and under one roof. Talon has established itself as a leading out-of-home agency in the UK, but the US is in a league of its own in terms of scale and opportunity and it was so valuable to hear from the major players and understand more about the issues keeping them up at night.

Dan Dawson – The focus for our session was ‘Right Audience, Right Moment and Right Message.’ three simples rules that we believe makes an effective digital OOH campaign..but in essence they are the foundation of any OOH campaign. Digital inventory is now supported by adtech platforms and workflows that allow creative to react and change during the course of a campaign. Dynamic creative joins the dots between data driven media planning and the mindset of a consumer at a given time, in a given place. That is powerful.

The key differences between the UK and US OOH markets?

Dan Dawson – The main differences are size and agility, and yes the two are linked. The UK is geographically the size of Michigan with a population around the size of California and Texas combined. The total UK OOH market is worth $1.5b (ten per cent share of national ad spend), 47 per cent of that is now coming from DOOH. In the US OOH is a phenomenal $7bn market (around 13 per cent DOOH) contributing to 4.1 per cent of the overall national ad spend.

Both markets have consistent growth, partly fuelled by DOOH, transforming paper to pixel and opening the digital door to advertisers who want to behave smarter. Technology wise we’re largely the same – the media owners employ similar systems in the US as in the UK, so coupled with our API the integration for our technology stack has been relatively straight forward.

Jon Conway – There are clear differences in scale and geographical spread of audiences and urban areas, and this impacts the types of campaigns that we can deliver in the UK vs the US. Digitisation also seems to have progressed more rapidly in the UK. Well over 50 per cent of Talon’s UK media billings derived from digital campaigns last year.

But, looking at the bigger picture, I think there are more similarities than differences. The growth in digital inventory has been a catalyst for creativity and effectiveness in both markets. But it is not just about digital screens, it’s also the signals we use to understand audiences and locations and how intelligent technologies build and deliver campaigns that respond to those signals.

At the conference we heard how the US market is grappling with the same basic challenge we face in the UK – how to capitalise on OOH’s core strengths and digital transformation to create better advertising and grow revenues. We’re confident that our approach to this challenge can work on both sides of the pond. That’s why we chose to open our first international office in the US.

How is the OOH industry embracing change though technology to help deliver more effective messages to audiences?

Dan Dawson – Its simple evolution. As Jon says, the technology is helping us to be smarter about audiences and is helping to inform the creative message. By understanding audiences you can create moments that trigger or update creative messages – crafting stories that are contextually relevant to a given location/time/audience. The OOH industry has always worked hard on its data. Today, live and legacy data is used to provide deeper insights into audience frame of mind. Now we’re able to paint a data driven picture we’re able to tailor messages accordingly, instantly.

Jon Conway – In a digital world, right audience, right message, right moment becomes more important because we’re confronted with the reality of out of home audiences and locations. We see people continually moving around, conditions shifting, and the personality of locations changing from one moment to the next. If we don’t respond by serving relevant ads, our campaigns will be less effective at achieving their goals. We see an important part of our role being to manage the complexity and make it easy for advertisers to navigate the landscape and be effective. Being relevant doesn’t need to be complicated and we’ve seen time and again that these campaigns are more successful – delivering higher recall, with the positive brand associations of being useful and relevant, and driving business outcomes.

As we look to the future, what excites you and could elevate DOOH in the US?

Jon Conway – The role for technology in out of home – just like any industry – should be to make our work easier to produce whilst delivering better outcomes for our clients. What excites me, and what I believe can elevate out of home, is integrated digital and out of home operations. That’s about teams of people with the right mix of expertise, working together to deliver campaigns with consistent audience data and reporting. We absolutely see a future in which our people will be fully embedded in client and agency teams. They’ll work side-by-side with digital buyers and they’ll use complementary technologies to manage out of home alongside online investments. Some of that technology will be designed specifically for out of home audiences and locations, that’s a big part of what we’re focused on at Talon.

Dan Dawson – For me more about practices than tech. I think the technology stack is there, now it is just about connecting them. We are on our way to realising exponential growth, as systems become further connected with a programmatic OOH future not too far away. Opening up to online DSPs is an obvious way to encourage new money into OOH. But to sustain that revenue the ad placements must prove to be effective, with the correct message and transparent, robust and agnostic reporting. That is where display and OOH differ in terms of system, so for OOH it highlights the need for specialist knowledge and tools.

We must all embrace change, technology, and collaboration. However, we have to remember that it’s the humans in our industry that will make this happen, not the machines. I see the growth in OOH and DOOH being designed by humans, driven by data and delivered by machine. Creating efficiency at every step.

Jon Conway (left) is Chief Strategy Officer, Talon. Dan Dawson is Chief Creative and Technology Officer, Grand Visual.

A longer version of this article first appeared in OOH Today.

Talon Outdoor is a truly independent Out of Home media specialist and a significant player in the Out of Home agency sector with a focus on delivering smarter, creative, technology-led and integrated OOH communications.

For further information about Talon Outdoor, please see Talon Outdoor or contact Nick Mawditt at [email protected]utdoor.com or Tom Belcher, marketing manager, at [email protected]

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