A journey into real-time, location based marketing: the story so far
August 2020 was not the most auspicious time to launch a new business. Especially one that had the physical retail environment as its heart! But after many years of experience in the Digital Out of Home (DOOH) world developing and selling the Liveposter CMS solution it was clear that a proximity focused programmatic offering using DOOH could be successful - alongside some of the more generalist solutions that were emerging. So with the shadow of Covid hanging over us we launched StoreBoost - a solution developed specifically to support physical retailers looking to generate incremental footfall when they really need it through proximity marketing, in real time across DOOH, mobile and social channels.
The good news is that StoreBoost made it through the pandemic and is thriving! Two years on and we have had a lot of practical experience running pDOOH campaigns in the real world with multiple clients, agencies and environments. In those same two years there has also been a huge amount of attention - hype - about pDOOH at conferences, webinars and the like. It’s fantastic that pDOOH is in the spotlight and this seemed like a good time to reflect on the real world lessons we’ve learnt at StoreBoost, the hurdles we’ve faced, the success we’ve had but also the stuff that’s not really happening (despite the hype).
+64.5% increase in sales for Lacoste and outstanding results across multiple categories. Real KPIs driven by real-time, proximity OOH
Since launch StoreBoost has delivered over a hundred pDOOH campaigns and it’s extremely encouraging to see that the campaigns have come from brand categories right across the spectrum - Fashion, Telecoms, Health and Beauty, Sports,Technology, Entertainment. More encouraging is to see the results across those campaigns. On average, StoreBoost campaigns have seen 14.3% footfall uplift during the 2 hour window post campaign display. Ad recall was +31% on average during campaigns, with average ROI x 2 and a sales increase of +24.7%. Across all campaigns that ran with dynamically optimised creative messaging it is clear that DCO is 2x more effective than linear ads.
Looking at some individual campaigns we’ve seen some outstanding results. For example Nespresso saw a sales increase of +40% and a +22% sales increase. After a campaign that delivered a phenomenal +64.5% increase in sales, Laurene Pellegrini - CEO Lacoste UK - reported that their StoreBoost powered campaign “showed the effectiveness of proximity based OOH, delivering outstanding results”. EE saw a +24% increase in purchase intent and Katie Fleming (Retail Marketing at EE) commented “the campaign drove strong footfall and brand results”. These excellent outcomes for our clients are a clear indication that pDOOH can play an important role in the marketing mix. But more importantly it demonstrates that pDOOH offers the opportunity to behave in a new way for marketers - not just a new way of buying the media that would have been bought anyway.
A route to incremental spend for the OOH publishers
pDOOH is rightly being promoted as having the potential to deliver valuable benefits including (but not limited to) greater accessibility, buying flexibility, accurate targeting through relevant data and improved measurement. And it is suggested that this all means new, incremental spend will be coming into DOOH - not just cannibalising existing OOH budgets.
That all sounds great but is it really happening? Is there real substance behind the hype? Is there really a commitment to pDOOH from the agencies and media owners?
Currently the concern should be that a lot of pDOOH activity seems to be programmatic guaranteed with very little actual real time buying and targeting. This would be inconsistent with the positive pDOOH story of a medium that offers precision targeting, optimised creative and measurable uplift. And it suggests that in reality, flexibility just means late commitment from agencies and accessibility just means a way to deal with voidage issues. pDOOH could fall into the trap of just being a different way to do the same old stuff without any of the valuable benefits true programmatic behaviour brings.
Real-time proximity activity is a strategic decision. It has to be driven by a genuine use case, clear metrics and full buy in from the client.
Our experience suggests that having a clear use case is extremely important in helping clients see a new way of behaving using pDOOH in proximity to their retail channel. That insight extends to understanding that dynamically optimised creative is vital and that having brand tracking, footfall and sales as obvious metrics enable a fully functioning test-and-optimise playing field. In other words, to get the best out of pDOOH there needs to be a genuine use case pointing to positive brand outcomes rather than just cheap reach.
So how do we move forward? To really scale pDOOH we need to see case studies of genuine, real time pDOOH programmes, we need to see greater client involvement, more commitment from media agencies and more creative agency interest and engagement. Education is of course important. In a recently published paper by VIOOH, research showed that “42% of agency executives in the UK feel that best practices in using data for programmatic DOOH would help them to better understand the channel.” But that education should be focused on moving pDOOH firmly into omnichannel thinking. It is far too easy for clients and agencies to see pDOOH as just a variation on traditional OOH buying. We need to get pDOOH out of the OOH echo chamber and to be seen as a valuable solution in the omnichannel ecosystem. Client involvement is fundamental to this process as it requires a higher level view of the likely business cases, the key metrics and the overall strategy from above the line to instore.
pDOOH has come a long way but unless we can raise awareness of its real ROI value through genuine use cases it will stay in the “once a year innovation” bucket and fail to achieve the scale our results suggest it should.