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April 15, 2016

Even as enterprises choose hyperlocal and push advertising over mass advertising, the questions concerning them remain the same: are we spending right, is there an impact on brand awareness or recall or on sales?

Organizations that have limited data or lack a proven methodology for ascertaining the effectiveness of marketing or advertising spend may be unable to provide clear answers to these questions. However, with the advent of digital technologies, the effectiveness of the advertising campaign can be better measured today.

Let us explore how the Internet of Things (IoT) can be leveraged, in conjunction with the Digital Five Forces ― Big Data and analytics, mobility and pervasive computing, cloud, social media, and artificial intelligence and robotics, to improve the effectiveness and measurability of ad campaigns.

As discussed in the previous blog, Part 1: Reconnaissance, the next-gen connected world will be characterized by a countless number of sensor-enabled devices to report data pertaining to consumer behavior, brand interactions, and product lifecycles. Deploying the right data sensors at the right places, activating them at the right time, and connecting data sources in the right sequence will ensure effective, targeted, and optimized ad campaigns. Marketers have already started experimenting in this area. A beverage company was recently in the news for embedding sensor chips in its bottles  to understand the lifecycle of its product – right from when it was purchased to the point of consumption, and finally, its disposal. This information helped the company deliver custom marketing messages through different stages of the lifecycle. For instance, the company offered attractive deals when the bottle was near-empty, to entice customers to buy more.

Now, let us explore an example of IoT-enabled out-of-home (OOH) advertising.

A smart city XYZ comprising residential buildings, schools, offices, and recreation centers has digital out-of-home billboards located every two miles on the main road. Analyzing the movement of GPS-embedded public vehicles can help marketers plan an effective strategy for out-of home advertising in the city.

Studying details such as current vehicular location, start and end points, and daily routes can help marketers arrive at a pattern relating to the movement of vehicles for the day or week. This information can then be used to build an intelligent OOH advertising strategy, which can effectively deliver the right message to the target demography.

For example, if marketers know that on Friday evenings, several vehicles originating from a popular office location head to a local pub instead of returning to their hotels or homes – typical drop locations on other days of the week, it will help them deliver targeted or relevant messages. Vehicular movement is also determined by factors such as passenger demographics. For example, the preferred route of a school bus will have different billboards than that of a premium hotel shuttle. Marketers can also use Google traffic data to predict vehicular traffic at a given point in time to deliver messages effectively.

The effectiveness of the billboards can be established by defining call-to-actions on them, or even having near-field communication (NFC) applications for them at airports, theaters, or bus stands.

Will IoT-based OOH advertising completely replace traditional methods? The simple answer to this is―no. The efficacy of traditional advertising media can’t be discounted.  With every new technology on the block, the world of advertising tends to become a little more experimental and a lot more influential, but there will still be televisions, radios, billboards, and newspapers. In fact, IoT-based advertising will complement traditional ways of advertising. Furthermore, to adopt IoT-based OOH advertising, a lot of factors need to be considered such as infrastructure capabilities, costs and risks involved, and so on. Once advertisers have ticked all the right boxes, there’s no stopping them from adopting IoT-based advertising.

Punyabrota Dasgupta is a Domain Consultant and an Enterprise Architect with the Communications, Media, and Information Services (CMI) business unit at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He has around 15 years of experience in conceptualizing and deploying technology solutions for TCS’ leading clients including television networks, internet companies, and pay TV providers. Punyabrota’s areas of expertise include new media technologies including digital content management, social media, cloud computing, mobility, Big Data analytics, and others. He is an active researcher in the digital media product development space, and has filed several patents around media recommendation engines and digital marketing, in addition to publishing white papers on industry-acknowledged technology forums.


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