Data…the most precious marketing edge you can have

December 1, 2017

Few people are better qualified to reflect on the value of data than the man who gifted us the world wide web. As Tim Berners- Lee put it so eloquently, “Data is a precious thing.”

At a time when shopping centres are working harder than ever to win the loyalty of their customers, data, used wisely, can indeed give centres and retailers a marketing edge.

Yet how many centres use data to its full capacity? And I’m not referring here to the well established sources such as footfall, sales and customer records.

The real knowledge lies in tapping into the type of data driven insights that give you the ability to truly know your customer base. Data that goes beyond basic numbers through the door. Data that transcends the limitations of  heat mapping (used to track customer movements) and wi-fi tracking.

One view frequently espoused is that managing and acquiring this data requires investment and resources beyond the scope of most centre marketing departments.

Not so.

A core pillar of our business at VMO has always been to ensure our digital screens are not just vehicles for content and advertising – but that they are also insight platforms. Insight platforms armed with the capacity to track, measure and collate information on the audiences viewing our screens.

It’s a significant point of difference – DART (Digital Outdoor Audience in Real Time) is an audience measurement system unique to VMO. DART anonymously captures details including the age, gender, the day and time of those viewing our screens, generating live data on more than 4 million shoppers weekly.

It even reads and reports on facial characteristics and expressions.

So sophisticated has DART become that it is today widely accepted as the most advanced out-of-home audience measurement system in market.

Is your audience older than you may have realised? Do more mums visit at a particular time of day? Through DART you can find out more about the different demographics that visit your centre.

We can also garner information on how different audiences react to certain messages and advertisements.

Where all this knowledge becomes particularly potent is when the data begins to guide the decisions of marketing.

For example, instead of just running generic promotions you can target specific demographics with precision. Thinking of running a Valentine’s Day promotion? With DART insights you can find out what time and day men of any age group are most likely to visit and skew your marketing accordingly.

You can even have your messages programmed to play purely by the presence of the relevant target group. VMO technology has meant it is now possible to have your content run only when the desired audience are in the majority. For example, if you are promoting a lunchtime event for women over 30 you can have your ad booked to play only when a majority of women over 30 are watching.

For retailers the potential is profound.  Think about the impact your advertising can have when you have the ability to quarantine messages to a particular demographic based on the time of day they are in the centre.  Equally valuable is how this data allows you to change and refine promotions based on DARTs ability to feedback how the target has reacted emotionally to your ad or promotion.

Your customers benefit and the centre benefits long-term. After all, if your communication is more relevant to shoppers then you are improving their experience.

As I see it, this is where the big data opportunity lies – personalised communication that reaches the target at the most opportune times of the day.

We have seen first-hand the impact of advertising that reaches audiences in the right place at the right time. A case in point is the Coles Christmas 2016 campaign. Through the VMO network, Coles ran national and state targeted messages reaching shoppers moments before they entered the Coles store. DART recorded that the campaign resulted in an engagement 30% higher than the VMO Shop average.

It’s not hard to see how this targeted messaging can work for your own centre marketing.  You may wish to let parents know about a particular school holiday event.  With DART you can discover when parents of a certain age visit heaviest. Are they shopping with the kids or alone? Who is reacting to your message and who isn’t?

It all comes back to the power of information. Arming yourself with the knowledge to know as much as you can about your shoppers.

For centre marketing it’s only going to get more exciting. As the technology evolves so will the data that delivers the detail on your shoppers. Already a medium once considered little more than a broadcast product is today capable of delivering insights and running ads with incredible precision.  This is the really the future of all outdoor communication – and we are making it happen now.

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