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Whether you’re waiting on the platform or walking through the station to get to another part of town, advertising in the vicinity of trains is about to go high tech

At the end of 2013, the Sydney Trains contract winners were finally announced, with APN retaining duties for 77 stations and Adshel taking responsibility for 51. 

Adshel’s McInnes says: “We expanded our contract in 2013 quite significantly. The win was an endorsement of our strategy to transform Sydney Trains into digital in a very big way.”

She adds: “More than 50% of the world’s population now lives in cities. That means there are more people moving around and more infrastructure being built. Public transport is key.” 

Adshel CEO Rob Atkinson adds: “We will have over 1,500 digital faces. Those digital screens will appear over 14 of the key CBD and inner suburb stations in both small and large format. I think these screens will be in very high demand. We are finding buyers have historically requested more flexibility and opportunity but we haven’t traditionally been able to supply that.” 

The advantage of advertising in stations, especially in places like Sydney CBD, is the high footfall, explains McInnes: “The stations also link areas in the city, so people are always walking through. They capture a massive moving audience.”

APN will also be taking the Sydney Trains outdoor advertising network digital, by introducing some large format digital panels. 

“The platform is the key place,” says Wood. “The average dwell time on the platform is 12 minutes, plus there are limited distractions. We will be doing a significant refurbishment of the cross-track panels, to include large format digital panels.” 

APN also won the experiential and sampling rights for Sydney Trains. “That means we have a significant opportunity for advertisers to connect and interact with people at the barrier, from handing out product samples to experimenting with the latest technology,” says Wood. 

Adshel’s McInnes believes digital outdoor advertising helps to bring people together in the real world, rather than in cyberspace. 

“Technology has always been thought of as bringing people together through social media, but the exciting thing about out-of-home is that there are thousands of people passing through areas like this on a regular basis – and that’s an untapped community,” says McInnes. “Outdoor advertising can do some really fun stuff in areas like this.” 

OohMedia’s Cook is also excited at the untapped digital opportunities that out-of-home can reap.

He says: “We are seeing a digital opportunity to work anywhere that has a dwell environment or a walk by environment. These places, whether they are trains, platforms, stations, shopping centres, bus shelters or airports, will have opportunities to do all sorts of engagement with digital and with mobile phones.”

The biggest challenge, Cook believes, is understanding what consumers want to engage with.

“I don’t know if it will get to a Minority Report situation in my lifetime, but we are seeing that the consumer is prepared to use the link between their mobile device and signage to engage with brands,” he says. “The challenge is to understand what gets your brand the best engagement.”

And, according to Cook, the possibilities are limited only by marketer’s imaginations.

“At the moment, there is nothing that can’t be done,” he states. “If you can make it fun and interesting, and of some value to the consumer, we are seeing that they are happy to take the time to physically engage with advertising.” 

Wood adds: “Globally, rail advertising is one of the most sophisticated forms of advertising, and Australia is not playing catch-up – we are leading.” 

There is, says McInnes, just one limitation with digital out-of-home, and that’s a centralised payment platform: “There are multiple ways of connecting and paying, which is frustrating because there isn’t one, universal way for consumers to purchase straight off an ad. That’s an obstacle at the moment.”

One method being trialed the States is Apple’s iBeacon. Using Bluetooth technology, iBeacon serves up advertising content and special offers relevant to an individual, based on their online profile, as he or she walks by a store. But iBeacon has yet to reach our shores. 

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