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BT's group brand director on digital transformation and the increase of beacons and tracking in OOH


By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

August 10, 2017 | 8 min read

Claire Sadler is group brand director of BT Group who serve millions of customers across consumer, business and public sector markets. Her responsibility lies in marketing, brand experience and guardianship across all the BT Group brands.


Claire Sadler on digital transformation and the increase of beacons and tracking in OOH

BT is unifying its consumer-facing and B2B brands under one singular strapline, ‘Be There’. Putting an emphasis on the the role communication plays in people’s lives. The overall campaign will be supported by investment in out of home (OOH).

Talking about OOH ahead of her role as a judge for The Drum Creative Out Of Home Awards, Sadler speaks out about digital transformation, mainlining the balance between short-term and long-term growth and how as digital signage increases, so will the use of beacons and tracking in OOH.

What has been the most innovative thing you have seen from the industry this year?

Tiger Beer's Air Ink campaign was innovative in the sense of product design. They fitted devices to their fleet of Tiger delivery trucks which captured 95% of the carbon soot from the vehicles. They used that pollution, turned it into ink and created pens and markers which they gave to street artists to create billboards around the world.

What are the key trends right now?

Data and artificial intelligence are big right now. Lots of people are building data lakes and it's fair to say that sometimes there are more data swamps. Certainly, turning large amounts of unstructured data into actual insights that inform business and marketing strategy is going to be key in helping businesses win.

Another trend is digital transformation, not just in terms of ad spend but in the way of digital thinking and how and why digital can change things for the better for customers. Whether that it is delivering improved products or delivering a lower more cost-effective operating of the businesses.

What is the current mood of the industry?

Like many industries its grappling with every increasing customer expectations and the demand to improve customer experience to do things either better or cheaper. This inter-mediation has impacted businesses in many ways and that is creating a sense of pace and variety which is a challenge but also makes it an exciting place to work.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

Digital ad spend will continue to grow along with the use of data and AI to create even more personalised experiences. There is also a lot of debate and discussion about the balance between short term and long-term effects of marketing, and how short termism is impacting the ability to build long term growth or long term successful brands.

I think we will see a return to the old rules of brand building or certainly a more balanced approach. There is always a pressure to show results in the shortest amount of time, but it's not always something that can be delivered within a quarter. You need to get the balance right between your brand building activity and your short-term activation.

How is digital changing OOH?

We are seeing so many great marriages between data and digital within OOH. If you think about some pieces of work like the BA Magic of Flying billboard and how they personalised their billboards with real time data, you are seeing that marriage of data and digital.

Static billboards which are still great for amplifying reach and frequency but digital potentially allows you to add that personalised experience to your advertising. We will see more digital screenage in store as well as on the street and we'll be seeing the start of the ability to buy and take payment from OOH media, particularly in store digital signage.

Is there a push to go towards digital OOH or can it integrate with traditional methods?

I think there is a role for both digital and traditional. There are still plenty of OOH, traditional static billboards and they can still be used in great ways. OOH has the upper hand over digital in the sense that it's hard to block your view of a billboard. There are still some great static billboard campaigns out there, like Apple's iPhone campaign. It is beautiful imagery and memorable.

What is the best work you've seen or overseen?

I think that we have done some great experiential work within the group over the last year. We had our BT Goals Recreated live at the Champions League which was an extension of one of our BT Sport campaigns where people were given the chance to recreate the McManaman goal and then they received their own edit that they could share on social.

It was a great experiential piece that brought the brand to life and getting people to engage in a different way.

How is location tracking and beacons changing OOH?

I think as we see digital signage increase, so will the use of beacons and tracking. We will see micro targeting increase as well as brand become able to link that beacon to their own CRM system. Which in turn lets you create evermore personalised or dynamic creative, based on what you know about that customers or prospect.

There are certainly stores that have rolled out already, like Macy's in America. If you think about how particularly retailers can start to use in store personalised real time promotions, like John Lewis for example. As a loyalty card holder, you get a monthly free tea and cake voucher and you can target customers as they are in store. I think that becomes a really nice proposition and adds to the in-store experience.

As that targeting capability grows, so will the whole way in which OOH media is planned and bought. Digital, the large majority of it is bought programmatically and we will start to see more programmatic buying of OOH as well.

As a judge for The Drum Creative Out Of Home Awards, what do you want to see from the entries?

The use of OOH to deliver both personalised experiences and broad reach brand building experiences and show a balance between long-term and short-term effects.

I usually focus on two things when I'm looking at papers. One is the insight. How strong is the customer insight in the execution? And the second is ROI. How well can you demonstrate that return against your campaign objectives.?

How important do you think these are awards are to the industry?

They're very important. OOH is, in a sense an old media and with the use of digital, is a new media as well. it's quite unique. It's exciting to see how those two things combine in interesting new ways.

Sadler is a judge for The Drum Creative Out Of Home Awards. The deadline for entries is Friday 11 August. Do you think your company has what it takes to win?

Entries are open to all advertising agencies, design consultancies, digital agencies, direct mail companies, production companies, marketing agencies, PR consultancies, in-house creative teams, in-house marketing teams, media owners and media buying agencies that are based around the globe and can enter international work.

The awards are sponsored by KBH On-Train Media, Tint, The Drum’s RAR and The Drum Network.

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