Richard Spooner examines the role of GIS in location-based advertising
It is often argued that the main advantage of online advertising over more traditional offline or outdoor advertising, is that a promotional message is not restricted by either time or by geography. The Internet and World Wide Web allow content to be delivered 24/7 to a global audience. Everywhere is now local it would seem.Against this background, an innovative UK media owner is bucking the trend by providing an outdoor advertising service in which âlocal is everythingâ, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to promote its offering.Gordon Evans COO of T4 Media explains. \"Even though there are few barriers to the movement of information in the electronic world of Internet, in the physical world geography still has a very real impact on peopleâs everyday lives and movements. We all live somewhere. We work somewhere. We travel. We buy and sell goods and services from places, as well as web sites. So the physical world in which we live still offers opportunities for advertisers to capture a personâs attention. The challenge is to be able to attract attention for a meaningful duration, without being invasive.\"Gordon explains how T4 Media has risen to this challenge. \"We recognised that as people travel, their movements are checked at different break points or nodes. There is a short delay for example as a rail traveller stops to present a ticket at a railway station barrier. T4 Media recognised that such enforced delay can also be an opportunity to create an audience for advertisers and advertising agencies. \"Today millions of rail passengers literally walk through advertising messages displayed on our AdGates installations in 233 railway stations across the UK. It is a means of outdoor advertising which has proven to be very attractive. It satisfies two desirable requirements of advertising: it is unmissable and accountable. By that I mean audience numbers can be verified independently.\"T4 Media has replicated the same proposition by also offering advertising opportunities on the barriers of car parks (AdBarriers), on the doors of filling station forecourts (AdDoors), and even on the nozzles of petrol pumps (AdNozzles). In total the company now offers outdoor advertising opportunities at some five thousand transport-related locations throughout the UK. So where does GIS technology fit? Greg Anyon, T4 Mediaâs Sales and Marketing Director explains this as follows. \"The value of our business is the access we can offer advertisers and agencies to high value audiences through a network of location-specific advertising. \"However, to win business we need to communicate the advertising potential of this network to agencies and advertisers. We need to sell the value of the audiences at these locations. Sometimes the effort involved in doing this is minimal. \"For example, we helped one advertising agency promote an aspirational insurance brand on our AdGates ticket gateway portals across Londonâs terminus and commuter stations. This provided them with the catalyst to gain significant market position. \"On other occasions the effort involved analysis that can take a great deal of time and effort. For example we enabled an advertising agency to run a successful campaign for 112 individual dealers of an upmarket 4x4 vehicle. We identified where we had advertising space at filling stations close to each dealership, and the agency bought the space on behalf of their client, for a four week campaign. The agency was able not only to target the petrol forecourts using 112 locally-tailored messages, but we were also able to meet their need to run only on diesel pumps. Identifying all the filling stations in proximity to 112 dealerships is not something you want to do manually.\" And yet that is exactly what T4 Media had been doing before acquiring a system from the GIS and web mapping software developer CadcorpÂ® in 2011. \"We had been using a well-known business mapping product for a number of years,\" continued Greg. \"It could provide us with search results based on a single seed point without too much difficulty. However, it couldnât cope with being given a multitude of seed points. \"We evaluated what was available in the market, and following a competitive tender process selected Cadcorp from a shortlist of three vendors. We started out by using their off-the shelf desktop GIS product - Map Modeller, but soon recognised that our needs would be best satisfied by a version tailored to meet our specific needs. What we have now is a subset of the very rich functionality available in the off-the-shelf product, but very easy to use, and meeting our needs perfectly.\"Today, 10 of T4 Media sales, presales and marketing staff are able to use the Cadcorp Spatial Information SystemÂ® to assist them in writing proposals. The system manages not only the location and characteristics of T4 Mediaâs network of advertising spaces, but also manages layers of free-to-use Ordnance Survey mapping from the OS OpenDataâ¢ product range, plus any geographic data entered for specific projects and proposals. Integration with Front RangeÂ® GoldMine CRM, and an SQLServer database completes the system which is now being used to great effect to automate proposal writing at T4 Media.The system manages the location and characteristics of T4 Mediaâs network of advertising spaces, layers of free-to-use Ordnance Survey mapping from the OS OpenDataâ¢ product range, plus any geographic data entered for specific projects and proposals. \"The impact on productivity has been dramaticâ noted Greg. \"Proposals that used to take three days to write, can now be completed in 30 minutes. And it is not simply that we are doing what we always did, but more quickly. The huge increase in productivity brought about by using the Cadcorp Spatial Information System has allowed us to change the way we do business. \"We are no longer simply reacting to requests for proposals; we now have the bandwidth to be proactive in taking creative location-based advertising proposals to our clients and media agencies. Our experience has been that agencies and clients that once viewed the world through on-line advertising spectacles, begin to see the world differently when you take the time to explain the real and continuing value of location in engaging with the target audience.\"Richard Spooner is Marketing Manager, Cadcorp----------------------------------------------Pictured above: The Cadcorp SIS system manages the location and characteristics of T4 Media\'s network of advertising spaces., layers of free-to-use Ordnance Survey mapping from the OS OpenDataâ¢ product range, plus any geographic data entered for specific projects and proposals. Map image reproduced from Ordnance Survey GB, with permission of Her Majestyâs Stationery Office Â© Crown Copyright
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