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MediaCom UK OOH trading chief says you can't buy digital and traditional and expect them to do the same job


By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

August 31, 2017 | 10 min read

When it comes down to it, digital and traditional out of home (OOH) are completely separate elements, according to MediaCom UK’s head of OOH trading.


Arran Javed says you can't buy digital and traditional and expect them to do the same job

Posters on billboards that are up for a couple of weeks at a time do a fantastic job of the classic OOH deliverables; quick coverage and viewability, but with digital you need to be thinking right outside of the box.

Ahead of his judging position for The Drum Creative Out Of Home Awards, Arran Javed talks about the move from traditional OOH to digital, key trends in data and programmatic and how MediaCom UK are using data more intelligently.

With digital becoming more prominent in OOH, is there still room for traditional methods?

My personal view is that they are two separate channels. If you are putting up a poster and it's going to be up for two weeks, it’s going to do a fantastic job of the things that OOH has always been good at; driving quick cover and viewability.

When it comes to digital you can be a lot smarter. Adding context to a creative in an environment, for instance that changes throughout the day to make sure that the ad is having as big an impact as possible to the consumer. This means that it has a completely different role to a poster, like a traditional poster site.

You need to treat them as two separate channels, whilst they complement each other massively, you can't just buy two weeks’ worth of digital and two weeks’ worth of 96 sheets any more, they don't do the same job and the scale is now there across DOOH to treat it separately. Digital used to be the cherry on top of a plan with the traditional being the bedrock, but at the speed the market is evolving in the UK, I expect those roles to flip over the next five years

What is MediaCom UK doing right now in OOH that is unique/innovative?

Lots, but the main thing to call out would be our attitude towards digital. It's not necessarily unique in the market, but the way we are approaching it, from a planning and trading perspective, is. Utilising all the data that is out there in a smarter way.

We are also looking at how we can make sure we are driving trading efficiencies and adding creative context to give the consumer more out of OOH, with all the data we have, be that simple context like the weather, or mobile geo data, or even sales data from clients.

For example, if Subway is having a quiet week in one of their stores in Manchester, can we flip the switch and get some ads on to drive footfall into that store.

What are the key trends in OOH right now?

A big buzz words now are programmatic, automation, and data! What that actually means for OOH is still being worked out for the industry, and I do feel like the market is a little bit confused about it. Everyone has their own definition and at MediaCom UK, we have a very clear vision of what it is.

Again, data is massive, and from a commercial viewpoint it's looking at how we buy OOH. Do we carry on in a panel by panel basis as we always have done or do we start looking at audience trading? We have this wealth of data now, so can we start using that a bit smarter? You can see so many campaigns breaking on a weekly basis being informed by new data sets, and DOOH has come a long way from a simple weather activated campaign, you just need to go down to Old Street and see what a certain search engine is doing down there with data and DOOH.

Live tweets on the London Underground, and sales data from clients informing buying decisions is not far off, so data is certainly on trend right now, and with that comes the need for automation and eventually the programmatic

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

There have been some smart digital campaigns and as a whole, seeing people taking advantage of digital out of home properly on scale, it's hard to pick out one.

The campaigns are getting smarter and data is being used a lot more, but the best thing I have seen this year, has been the Lucozade "Find Your Flow" campaign, where by pre-paid oyster cards were attached the bottom of Lucozade bottles which were sampled to consumers just before entering the London Underground, coupled with a huge OOH campaign running across a mass of formats. I loved this activity because it was a true partnership with not only the media owners, but also bodies such as TFL, really highlighting the potential reach of OOH if you get outside the box!

Where do you see OOH heading in the next 12 months?

There will be more digital going into the ground. We will see a number of site types like 96 sheets being replaced with digital screens as more companies are investing in heavily in digital OOH in terms of infrastructure – and we are seeing that our clients are doing a similar thing, just look at the latest figures from Outsmart, 46% of all spend in OOH in Q2 2017 was across Digital formats!

We are just ahead of the market average in terms of spend on DOOH. Clients are certainly embracing it as well. The opportunity is there. In the next 12 months we are going to see people buying it differently, using a lot more data and more creative OOH campaigns.

For instance, we ran a campaign earlier this year, that had 100 variants of creatives which was all about creating different processes triggered by the weather, time of day as well as several other data points and that was really exciting to see come to life across OOH. It was something that you wouldn't have ever bothered to do or thought you could do a couple of years ago, but now we’re slowing getting to a place where these types of things are possible.

What is the best work you have overseen?

The best thing I have overseen was the Jurassic World Waterloo take over. It ticked a lot of boxes in terms of the experiential element to it. There were massive dinosaurs, real smart use of digital (using transition screens hooked up to a mobile phone so people could go to a website to hear what was going on in the screen) which added a new dimension to OOH.

We even got it into the media; like Good Morning Britain which instigated it into other media outlets. So, it wasn't just the use of posters and digital screens, every best bit of OOH came together. It became famous online and drove social engagement. It gave consumers a reason to go down and see it. There was a retail unit as well so people could purchase merchandise and cinema tickets. For me, it ticked all the OOH boxes. Everything that OOH can deliver it did, in one campaign.

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

I want to see more than your standing building wraps and big and bold OOH executions. More smart use of data, more insight as to how you’ve arrived at chosen execution, and what context and creative has been applied to extract the most from the campaign. I will be looking at data and how it informs the positioning of adverts, location and the forming of creative. Seeing how people have used data to get the most out of the site.

How important are the awards for those in the industry?

The acknowledgement and recognition of good work by the industry, is hugely important. It inspires people to develop creative work. It encourages better work moving forward. Success breeds success, and winning awards can only be a positive thing.

What advice would you give to this year's entrants?

The best thing to do is to be as clear as possible as quickly as possible. What's the headline? Capture the attention straight away. Then tell the story of the campaign in a unique way.

What's the premise of the campaign? Why is it being entered? What was the outcome? Be very clear about those three things. It's not necessarily about how you sold 10 million cars or what the KPI's were, it's more how did you get to where you got to.

Javed is a judge for the upcoming Creative Out Of Home Awards. OOH continues to be one of the most effective forms of advertising, which continues to deliver impressive results for brands and agencies.

The deadline has passed but extensions are available. To arrange yours, please contact Emma Mercer at

The Drum Awards Out Of Home The Drum Out of Home Awards

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