Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Aug 7, 2018

JCDecaux Transport rolls out automated DOOH planning tool in Hong Kong

Company says enhanced platform yields some surprises that defy conventional wisdom about where to advertise in Hong Kong's MTR system.

A new 'digital panel zone' in Hong Kong's Central MTR station launched this year.
A new 'digital panel zone' in Hong Kong's Central MTR station launched this year.

It used to be standard for advertisers to book ads in Hong Kong's Central and Wan Chai MTR stations in order to reach financially savvy commuters in Hong Kong. There was no need to even consider other stations.

JCDecaux's proprietary media planning and booking platform, SmartBRICS, which allows automation of DOOH placements for the first time and launched this April in Hong Kong, has turned up a few surprises since then. Now Taikoo Shing and Quarry Bay are proving their worth in the impression metrics.

So is the Jordan MTR station, which was never exactly top-of-mind for brands wanting to reach shopping-crazed consumers. Mongkok was the favourite spot, but station-by-station inventory data incorporated into SmartBRICS has highlighted Jordan to be another viable shopping area (and thus an effective advertising spot) frequented by Chinese tourists. Physical reach and frequency research undertaken by Nielsen in the MTR stations underpins these conclusions.

"In the past, clients don't really believe us when we recommend certain MTR stops that are out of the ordinary, as they make media buying decisions based on their own personal judgements or observations," said Shirley Chan, JCDecaux Transport's Hong Kong and Macau MD (pictured below). 

Hong Kong’s MTR is the first metro system in Asia Pacific to incorporate the SmartBRICS system, according to the French outdoor media company. The system is part of a '4D' strategy (digital, data, distribution, dynamic content) leveraging the digitisation of the train operator's prime OOH inventory.

Right now, the inventory comprises a total of 485 digital panels (including 30 Airport Express screens). 221 new panels will be added to the network in the next couple of years as new MTR stations are being built. An automatic interface between SmartBRICS and DISE (broadcasting system used in the MTR) is also in progress.

The aim is to show more contextualised and geo-local adverts for commuters, and to provide more comprehensive audience measurement and precise targeting for advertisers and their media agencies. 

Having been in beta since 2017, SmartBRICS is now part of the company's platform offering Hong Kong advertisers the choices to select specific stations, audience attributes and timing for a subway ad campaign. It is an automatic optimisation platform to build campaign requirements "just like bricks", explained Chan.

The campaign specifics can suit, for example, the weather or time of day, which was not possible for bulk buys in the past that cost at least hundreds of thousands of HK dollars and upwards. The eventual sophistication of the SmartBRICS system paves the way for the company's recently launched programmatic outdoor media trading platform, Viooh (pronounced View), to also be localised for Hong Kong in the medium term, Chan added.

After this was article was published, JCDecaux got in touch to stress that SmartBRICS is part of a broader “MTR Audience Targeting Platform”. Campaign Asia-Pacific has made minor alterations to the text above to reflect this. 

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