Hi Isaline, so what do you do and what brought you to Asia ?
I am the Marketing and Communications Director for JCDecaux Singapore.
Exploring different countries has been a large part of my life having spent most of it in different places. My travels have brought me to so many beautiful cities – Paris, Dakar, Antananarivo, St Louis, New York City and Montreal. At some point I got “stuck” almost 10 consecutive years in Paris which was way too long for the globe-trotter I am, and I decided to move to Singapore 6 years ago.
How did you get started on data?
Data is a big word. Big in the sense that it can take so many forms and meanings Essentially, it is an information that can guide the next course of action.
I started in marketing development for a big cosmetic brand, which meant translating market research to appealing products with a hint of creativity. I then quickly moved to what was at the time called “Communications and Internet”. Internet was fairly new and I was in charge, amongst other things, of social media. I had to build a voice for the brand, convince our business units that it was worth the effort and introduce other metrics than sales figures to measure the ROI of our online activities.
In many organisations, the Marketing department leads digital transformation because it has direct access to customer data. Building upon my past experience in digital marketing, I know that there are always opportunities to create value and generate revenue by collecting and using information differently.
I am now in charge of overseeing data usage, streamlining approaches from collection, standardization to analytics , as well as championing data initiatives for the group. The main goals are to improve our accountability to advertisers, enhance user experience for the consumers, streamline our maintenance processes and contribute to citizen life.
As an example, for planning purposes we look at location characteristics, profile of the audience in that location, and then layer government statistics or insights from surveys that we run, as well as mobility patterns. For creative purposes we integrate live feeds of the weather, news, flight information, social media.
It is a very creative job!
We are also starting to look at how we can do predictive maintenance based on operations data that we collect.
It takes both business acumen and technical skills to derive insights and build a story from data, defining needs and making sure it is well understood by all. This can be challenging when language, culture and professional training are different among team members. Those projects require a lot of collaboration with other departments internally, such as IT and our corporate data scientists team.
Where does data come in for a traditional media like out-of-home?
Out-of-home (OOH) is about billboards, digital screens, in the streets, in bus shelters, in malls, in airports… It is one of the oldest forms of advertising and the and the simple reason why it prevails to this day is that it works. It is actually the traditional media that generates most online activation per dollar spent. That being said, unlike online, the key strengths of out-of-home are that it is a mass media, and is able to increase exposure among consumers due to the amount of time people spend outside their homes.
Online advertising has fragmented the audiences. Traditional media has to meet changing expectations by delivering more relevant and engaging ad content to consumers. Data links OOH’s capability for mass exposure with personalised advertising , attaining relevance at scale.
This new media landscape is not without its own set of challenges, among which transparency and accountability are the most glaring. The ubiquity of online media also translates in an increasing number of KPIs to measure marketing objectives achievements.
Measurement tools developed by JCDecaux, such as the Airport Audience Measurement, or the Streetside Audience Measurement, address these concerns by delivering a set of KPIs such as reach, frequency and impressions. With our islandwide footprint in Singapore encompassing bus shelters, cinemas, premium malls, billboards and the airport, it is ever more important for advertisers to be able to adopt a data driven approach to optimise their OOH campaigns.
Our data comes from diverse sources – it comes from the asset itself and its location, which is an incredible source we can gather observations from, such as the airport for travellers and malls for shoppers. Data can also come from third parties, in such cases, our sources differ depending on the platform and we take efforts to ensure that we only work with the most relevant ones. One example of how we layer different data sets is the Streetside Audience Measurement, where we combine mobility patterns with out-of-home industry standards such as viewing distance, audience profiling and government statistics. From this, we are able to derive audience data that would form the basis of recommendations for campaign placement.
How is out-of-home keeping up with tech trends?
A shift towards a data-driven approach in OOH advertising paves the way for campaign optimisation and allows for personalisation at scale. With data, OOH advertising is able to track impressions and audience engagement to fulfil campaign objectives by allocating number of impressions to each campaign buy as well as offering ways to measure drive to store impact. In fact, data now can also fuel the creative process, driving increased awareness and brand recall.
Today it is very easy to integrate live data feeds into the creative to trigger content specific to certain events. Possibilities include flight departure or arrival in an airport environment, news updates, social media feeds or just time and weather. We are looking forward to working to online retailers on the possibility of integrating a feed displaying the top trending products on an ecommerce platform as their out-of-home campaign, a seamless way to merge online and offline.
Going further, cameras can be used to anonymously track viewers impression and dwell time on specific category of audience. A brand could then use OOH to optimize its advert based on set KPIs of how a visual is likely to be received and if is what audiences want to see.
There is a huge emphasis on the consumer experience to create a holistic brand experience across multiple touchpoints, be it offline or online. Digital out-of-home is in a unique position to be able to converge online and offline worlds by being a part of the marketing mix and prompting online activity. For example integrating mobile and OOH marketing strategies through location-based targeting delivers more than just commercial advantages. A Posterscope research led in 2016 showed that mobile click-through rates increased by up to 15% when supported by OOH, and a major piece of industry research conducted last year demonstrated that best performing OOH campaigns created a 38% uplift in short-term brand action taken via mobiles, with 66% of all actions being direct to the brand itself.
Where I feel really lucky is that I joined this industry at the right time and in the most exciting position. I have the chance to contribute to the digital transformation of this market leader.
How does JCDecaux integrate innovation on its digital transformation journey?
Start-ups are an amazing source of inspiration and revenue. Our team is constantly liaising with start-ups to develop our suite of innovative technological solutions. From sensors for traffic or maintenance purposes, solution for camera triggered content to mobile native adtech companies. The numerous partnerships we have forged grants us access to technologies and a community that shares a thirst for innovation.
Among the challenges that start-ups face when upscaling are the localisation of their technology as well as market readiness. Our initiatives like Vivatech 2019, invits start-ups to pitch ideas on enhancing the lives of commuters through solutions that can be implemented at bus shelters. JCDecaux also started an initiative in the UK which was then rolled out in France called Nurture. This program offers mentoring on marketing and design, including campaign strategies and execution, artwork design and production.
We have started working with Live with AI this year, which aims to motivate corporates to take responsibility in using AI and find ways to enhance rather than overshadow human capabilities.
How dare you to be a woman in data?
I am a very curious person with an insatiable thirst to discover new things. I think I would have stayed in school all my life if I could. What I love about data today is that it’s the beginning of a new era and applications to other fields are yet to be defined. There is still room for imagination. Just in my job I am applying it to 4 different fields, ranging from audience measurement, creative, business strategy to maintenance.
We are interacting with more data as it becomes an increasingly important aspect in our daily lives and our business. Given the vastness and complexity of what we are dealing with, there are plenty of opportunities for those with an interest to contribute to this expanding field. Those seeking a career in data no longer need to be confined to researcher or developer roles often dominated by men. “She loves data” is a good example of this. It has become a communication challenge I think, to let the new generations know that anybody can make it in any field. Apart from these, I think that the notion that “data is for geeks” is also getting debunked – I hope I am not offending anybody here, I find it super cool to work in in data 😉.
How do you bring more diversity?
There is a majority of males at most tech events we attend. However, most of my colleagues are women for some reason. I definitely have no qualms hiring men on my team. Although, actually my team may be the one that is the most diversified with 30% male and four different nationalities.
The fact is, I do not hire different people simply for the sake of diversity, but rather what they can offer in terms of skills, expertise, mindset and disruptive points of views.
Diversity may require more efforts from everyone to communicate, to make sure we are aligned and speaking the same language.
Nevertheless, we need different point of views to build strong solutions. I truly believe in the saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.