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How Data Can Help Old-Fashioned Outdoor Advertising

 5 min read / 

As creativity and technology continue to grow closer together in the advertising space, brands bolster their online spend. This culminated in digital overtaking TV ad spending for the first time in the US in 2016. It is no surprise, therefore, that digital will take 33% of the advertising market in 2017.

However, as Alexei Poliakov – co-founder of Locomizer, a UK-based ad tech startup – says “90% of day-to-day transactions happen in the real, not digital world.”

There are many more companies in the industry that are eager to catch on to the popularity of services and trends like Facebook Live, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and AR games. But is outdoor advertising lagging behind as brands tend to focus on digital and mobile? Maybe not.

Truth be told, when advertising outdoors, marketers cannot track clicks or engagement. Companies, therefore, need to be more strategic and thoughtful in how to place and position brands’ ‘old-school’ ads.

If done smartly, outdoor ads can reach out customers and be relevant in real time. Digital music service Spotify created a global advertising campaign by focusing primarily on OOH (out-of-home) advertising. The company used quirky data points about their listeners and put huge billboards all over the world.

Rather than always being on the lookout for the next big thing in digital, companies can set their sights on old-school outdoor ads.

How Jameson Used Location Data


Jameson Irish Whisky tackled a challenge of moving the brand from a spirit for ‘Dads’ to one for ‘Lads’ (broadly men, aged 25–34), so to say, increase appeal with the younger crowd. With the help of Locomizer, they analysed Twitter posts of guests from 4500 bars where the whisky was sold. Then they tracked where men of a particular age segment hang out on Fridays and Saturdays before going to a bar.

In other words, they used anonymous historic location data from mobile apps and social media to pinpoint hot spot areas for lads’ hangouts. Jameson Irish Whisky got the insight and instrument to target consumers before they do spontaneous catch-ups at their favourite bars and made ads hyper-local as possible. The campaign showed 225% uplift in reach and 40% increase in sales.

Location Is the Cookie of the Real World

The apps like Meitu and Uber offer three location-based settings: “Never”, “While Using the App”, and “Always”. When a user chooses to share location data, the phone will automatically and anonymously collect this data that can be used by brands and advertisers to reach customers in better places.

It is all about targeting users based on their offline interests (user’s affinity to real-world activities, as we are not always digital) and historical patterns of movements (simply put, their location data). Case in point: location data is a strong indicator of our affinity to everyday activities. Places people visit define their real life interests and preferences.

Playing Angry Birds or using effects on MSQRD in the cafe near the 5th Ave and E 8th St next to the Washington Square and then opening Uber app to get a taxi you can help brands to see where consumer segments with certain interests prefer to spend their time — simply predict consumer behaviour in the real world.

Taking this track, Locomizer has rolled out the technology AffinityBI that applies Biological Intelligence in branding and advertising. Literally, their technology helps brands find a perfect match with relevant audiences. The result: better targeting and ROI for brands, relevant messages and information for customers.

The technology was developed by watching cells’ behaviour and realising that systems have intelligence and a collective behaviour, even without a brain. “Therefore, instead of trying too hard to predict one consumer’s behaviour in isolation, BI can effectively crowdsource behaviour, and save a big computational headache,” says Poliakov.

Bringing Video Games To Your Doorstep

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To mark the return of video game Doom, out of home (OOH) advertising group Posterscope together with Locomizer searched for the right places of outdoor ads to reach their target audience — gamers. The algorithm found the places where followers of popular gamers or video game companies spend their time and post tweets related to the topic.

As it turned out, the gamers avoid crowded places in London, but sometimes they randomly appear nearby the Bank of England and Scotland Yard. Once the hotspots were identified, Posterscope chose the right bus and train routes to effectively reach the chosen segment.

Further Uses

Location-based insights have always interested companies, including Uber and MasterCard partnering with key players in the industry – Factual and PlaceIQ.

MasterCard aggregates purchase behaviour across the many billions of transactions the company processes every year across different categories like CPG, retail, dining, travel and automotive. This insightful data can definitely make digital and outdoor ads hyper-local and effective as possible.

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Carillion’s Collapse: It’s The Management, Stupid!

 5 min read / 

Carillion Collapse Management

When UK-based construction company Carillion PLC finally hit the buffers after months of pointless government efforts to prop up the public sector contractor, it wasn’t long before the finger of blame again pointed to Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects for the financial mess.

It’s a familiar argument that is promoted reflexively in a lot of the UK press because it fits an anti-corporate narrative. It follows the line that when public authorities invite private sector businesses to design, build and operate a public asset, the result will be huge profits for the contractor, its bankers and its shareholders while the public sector carries the bag for bailing out projects when they fail.

In the case of Carillion, that narrative got a boost from a National Audit Office report this week that stated that there’s still insufficient evidence to show that the UK’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI) program delivers value for money. It also said that the cost of PPP/PFI to taxpayers comes to £200bn, a particularly uninformative claim, considering that the equivalent public sector contracting almost always goes over budget and costs taxpayers untold billions of pounds through inefficiency, non-delivery and cost overruns, yet is rarely reported about in the press.

Boost for Nationalist Agenda

The NAO report will boost the Labour Party’s current position that all such projects should be nationalized, whatever the cost.

The only problem with the way that this has been reported is that PFI is not why Carillion collapsed.

In fact, the main reasons for Carillion’s collapse are that it failed to deliver on a wide range of contracted services, so it wasn’t being paid, even as it took on more projects and more and more debt, estimated to total £900m. The company also continued to boost dividends, despite a widening pension deficit, which now sits at £587m. Finally, Carillion incurred cost overruns and delays in the delivery of many public sector projects, of which only three were PFI.

The idea that PFI was to blame for Carillion’s collapse and that taxpayers are now on the hook for the many public sector projects is going to stick, even though it’s nearly as inaccurate as the claim that the company, its investors and its bank finance providers are profiting from the company’s demise.

The Guardian, for example, singled out three PFI investments, including two troubled hospital construction projects, for their contribution to the collapse of the company. These included the £335m rebuilding of the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and the £350m Midland Metropolitan Hospital, both of which ran into expensive delays.

But the media focus on Carillion’s mishandling of three PFI contracts ignores the larger issue, which is the company’s own inability to manage risks associated with the delivery of any of its services. 

There is a legitimate debate around whether PFI and its successor, PF2, deliver value for money to public sector institutions such as The National Health Service (NHS). This is because of the higher financing costs for private sector borrowing and thus the significantly higher cost to NHS trusts of having the private sector operate and maintain these assets once they are built.

Bottom Line Focus

At the end of the day, what matters most is the company’s ability to deliver. We’ve seen this before when another opportunistic PFI company, Jarvis, got in over its head and collapsed.

There have been more than 130 health-related PPP projects in the UK since the PFI scheme was established in 1992. Almost all of the large hospital projects were delivered on time and on budget using PFI during the Labour government from 2001 to 2010. This was followed by a sharp fall in waiting lists for surgery and other essential healthcare services across the country.

The issue in this instance should not be the delivery model, but rather the company that is responsible. In Carillion’s case, there is ample evidence that when it came to running the projects that were at the core of its business, nobody effectively managed the rising costs and declining receivables, even as they inexcusably boosted the dividend in each of the 16 years since the company was founded.

The end result, while enriching a few investors, was a precipitous share price decline since the middle of 2017 that more than erased those gains. The company’s lenders are also reported to have started writing down the £835m of committed bank facilities and £140m in short-term facilities, though their exposure could be much higher.


Own Work

Business as Usual?

Despite all the handwringing, there is no shortage of public sector contractors who will happily take over the many public sector construction and support service contracts that Carillion’s collapse will require the government to put up for tender.

This will follow an established protocol that is designed to ensure that essential services are not interrupted. The larger, more troubled Carillion projects will take longer to renegotiate but will ultimately find replacement companies to deliver them. Work interruptions are likely to be limited, and people who have been laid off as a result of the collapse will quickly find new work, particularly given the current healthy state of the labour market. The takeaway from all of this is simply that bad businesses, whatever their line of work, go to the wall and better ones replace them.

Keep reading |  5 min read


Whatsapp Launches New Venture Aimed at Businesses

 1 min read / 

whatsapp business

Whatsapp has launched a new app targeted at businesses, called the Whatsapp Business App, which they claim will enable companies to “communicate more efficiently” with present and potential customers.

This forms part of Whatsapp’s wider strategy to branch out into the corporate world. It plans to use the app to generate new revenue by charging businesses for using the extra communication tools that will enable them to better connect with their customers.

Although the app is set for worldwide release, at present it will only be available in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and US. It includes a feature which indicates a business is authentic with a green tick badge next to their name.

Keep reading |  1 min read


Amex: Troubled Credit Card Company Reports $1.2bn Net Loss

 2 min read / 

Amex annual report

On Thursday, American Express, or Amex, reported a net loss of $1,197m in the fourth quarter, the first net loss the company has experienced for 26 years.

Although the company stated that revenue from interest expenses was up 10% to $8.8bn, Amex said recent reforms to the US tax code meant the company incurred extra costs, including a repatriation cost on its foreign assets as well as a devaluation of its deferred tax assets. It estimates total costs amounted to $2.6m.

For the full year, net income was $2.7bn compared with $5.4bn the company earned in 2017. However, even with the estimated $2.6m the company claims it incurred from the recent tax charge, net earnings were still $5.3bn, $100m lower compared to last year.

In New York, American Express shares (AXP) took a near 1% tumble at the beginning of trade with shares finishing the day on $99.90.  JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs anticipate greater earnings for 2018.

“Overall, we believe the Tax Act will be a positive development for both the U.S. economy and American Express” said CEO and chairman Kenneth Chenault. Chenault also said he will be leaving Amex in “very strong hands” when his successor, Steve Squeri takes over next month.

American Express has suffered from an ever-reducing share in the credit card market and ended its 14-year relationship with American warehouse chain Costco who in 2016 made an agreement with the market leader, Visa.

Keep reading |  2 min read


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