JCDecaux to 'completely digitise Oxford Street' in £300m contract

By Sarah Cosgrove, Monday 19 October 2015

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Out-of-home (OOH) giant JCDecaux is planning to “completely digitise” London’s Oxford Street and install 1,000 digital screens when it takes over a £300m bus shelter contract.

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Bus shelter advertising in Oxford Street as it is now

The Neuilly-sur-Seine, France-based company will look after the advertising of 15,000 back-lit 2sqm panels at 4,900 bus shelters across the capital for client Transport for London (TfL) from 1 January, reportedly the world’s biggest bus shelter concession.

JCDecaux said the 1,000 digital bus shelters will be located in some of London’s busiest retail areas, where a fifth of all UK retail spend takes place as part of a vision it has dubbed The London Digital Network, or LDN.

They will feature 84in screens, which the company said are “the biggest of their kind ever deployed at scale and are nearly 40% larger than the existing screens”.

As part of this, JCDecaux is planning to install double-sided digital bus shelters along Oxford Street in London.

Advertisers will be able to take advantage of a supply-side platform called SmartBrics which layers demographic data with social media feeds and other information, retail spend data from analyst CACI, and travel analyst Route, to more accurately target campaigns.

In addition JCDecaux will gather a panel of 5,000 Londoners called Connected London, and consult them on attitudes, brand preferences and lifestyle, to help target consumers through the LDN. 

The company would not comment on the question of whether digital screens would replace paper posters. The pictures available on a special microsite showed ‘bookend’ style screens on the bus stops, while bus shelters PrintWeek saw on Oxford Street this week had two spaces for paper posters facing the road instead (pictured).

JCDecaux chairman Jean-Francois Decaux said his company planned to “make London the global showcase for digital out-of-home with more than 50% of its advertising revenues forecast to be coming from digital by 2017.”

The company declined to reveal how much of its revenue is currently digitally derived.

Ian Irving, SMP Group marketing strategy director who is not involved in the group’s print division, said the screens were likely to be inside the bus stops to attract passengers and avoid distracting motorists.

“What this is saying is ‘we can guarantee it will be in the right place at the right time’. Nobody has to change the poster so it can have a multitude of ad channels. People want more from out-of-home now but people still love billboards. out-of-home is not going away.”

SMP marketing director Nick Stag added: “This has been on the cards now for 10 years. We’ve got to embrace it and how we embrace it is around the exponential part of what they’re doing. It makes sense for them to do digital sites but print will always play a big role in the out-of-home market.

“People go shopping with a shopping list of things they need but make a decision on the brand within the last four feet of the till. Paper point-of-sale is still is going to have a big effect inside because the cost of screens would be prohibitive. Our production costs are much lower and printing is much quicker.”

TfL aims to generate £3.4bn in non-fare revenue over the next decade, which will be re-invested in the network. 

JCDecaux has 12,300 staff in more than 70 countries worldwide. It reported sales of €2.8bn (£2.1bn) in 2014. Its UK head office is in Brentford, west London.

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