How Advertising Will Evolve With Smart And Connected Cities


The rise of connected cities provides three major opportunities for the OOH industry. First, our industry will have much greater access to more accurate real-time location data thanks to the connectivity of all objects. If we look ahead into 2020, Gartner estimates that 25 billion objects will be connected to the Internet. Second, the possibilities of becoming much more relevant to each consumer will move the media category towards more of a 1 to 1 experience. Finally, we will be able to deliver impressions that make a real difference for consumers and advertisers.


We flee to the urban areas of the world like never before. In America alone, more than 80% of the population is living in larger cities, and it is projected that approx. half the countries in the world will have the same rate of urbanisation by 2050.

Human beings want to feel as part of a community – it is a deeply rooted human drive as old as mankind itself. The urge to belong to a group, or identify with a certain type of people is predominant for all us, and a commonality we all share in some shape or form. I think most can nod to having had the conversation of which city or neighbourhood to live in, and the kind of character traits people will attribute to where you live. Social media has been feeding on this deeply rooted urge, since the dawn of the first social platforms. In many ways – cities are just the same.

Public authorities across the world are becoming more and more aware of this fact. The pursuit of building platforms and infrastructure solutions that allow people to more easily navigate the cities of tomorrow is becoming increasingly fierce. With smartphones becoming a commodity and the rapid rise of connected products, we are seeing tonnes of data created every single second. In a world where 90% of the data that is currently available has been created in the last two years, we have only just seen the tip of the iceberg. So the greatest challenge at hand is all about filtering out useless data and putting the useful parts into action.

The first step is for us to understand the insights this abundance of data will reveal, and from there to connect relevant pieces of technology to increase the livability of cities and make life, especially in the larger cities, easier and more comfortable.


A key factor in making connected cities work is city design. I believe that a vital part of city design of the future will demand a deep knowledge and understanding of connectivity, data and technology, and how this inflicts on human life and mobility patterns. There are numerous examples of great city design across the world, and just speaking for myself – a native Dane – having worked and lived in Copenhagen for years, it is clear to me that the most livable cities in the world, and the happiest places on earth, have all been designed with a keen eye for human comfort and ease of life.


In the middle of all of this, we find Out-of-Home – billboards, transit shelters, bulletins, digital and static signage and panels of all sorts. A medium that for years have been quilted into the design of cities with various degrees of intelligence and success. For our industry, it is vital that all of us become knowledgeable about the future role of OOH in planning and designing cities, and that we play an active role here in. Our industry has a unique knowledge of where people are at what times, what they feel, what they do, how they act and much more.

From an industry perspective, we need to evolve with the rapid change of infrastructure and how people live their lives. Our role will be one of not focusing on creating the most impactful locations and formats, but focusing on how we can facilitate and help in creating new formats and bring new innovation that actually makes life, and moving about out of a home, better for people.


I believe that we need to become experts in location-based data sets and that we need to develop capabilities in new technologies such as AI, machine learning etc. because over time, we will see some of these automation technologies take over the tedious tasks of optimising and increasing the value of connectivity and thereby media.

I think we can play this role effectively when we leverage the geo-location data and the knowledge we already have, to change the way we see OOH as a medium. It is no longer a question of wanting to buy a certain prime location or having an affinity towards e.g. transit media. The strategic discussions we MUST have with our clients should be focused on geo-based audience data, and insights to inform which datasets and connections we can utilise to be both a media, and a service for the end consumer. Marketers expect us to push back, and to challenge their beliefs, and we need to live up to these expectations, and champion location and connective marketing.

Article first appeared on Sixteen Nine

Photo Credit: Buzz Nigeria