QMS’ Jemma Enright And Mark Fairhurst Discuss Sydney’s New High-Tech Street Furniture Rollout

QMS’ Jemma Enright And Mark Fairhurst Discuss Sydney’s New High-Tech Street Furniture Rollout

QMS has released the first look at its new street furniture rollout across the City of Sydney, which includes sleek redesigns of kiosks (featured image), bus shelters, public toilets, and communication pylons equipped with forward-thinking digital ad technology.

The reveal follows a multi-year campaign which culminated in June 2020 when QMS successfully nabbed one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising assets – which had previously been overseen by rival JC Decaux since 1997 – in a 10 year deal reported to be worth over $300 million, with the option of a five-year extension.

QMS’s new network – which was designed by award-winning architects, Grimshaw, with a focus on accessibility, sustainable materials and smart technology – will include more than 800 panels, 70 per cent of which will be digital to meet growing demands for high-tech DOOH advertising and data facilities. 90 per cent of the advertising inventory will also be digital.

B&T spoke to QMS general manager, City of Sydney, Jemma Enright, and QMS chief customer officer, Mark Fairhurst to gauge how the digital outdoor media company has tackled this exciting – albeit, monolithic – project so far, and what Sydneysiders and advertisers alike can expect from the new street furniture.

Hey Mark and Jemma. First of all, when will the furniture/infrastructure rollout be finished and accessible to everyone across the City of Sydney?

Jemma: The launch to market date is April next year, which is when we’re open for campaign transactional-based selling. We’ve set that date on the basis we’ll have a critical mass of the network rolled out by then. So, when we get to that stage, we’re sitting in the 90 per cent range. Of course, there will be some additional rollout that happens after that, but we’re confident – opening at that point – that we can really support all the campaigns that advertisers would want to get up in the network at that stage.

What will it offer advertisers in the digital space? 

Enright: Obviously the network is changing in terms of its makeup of digital and static. We’ve got a largely digital network, [but] we’re also brining in new data capabilities and data sets, and those two things together now allow us to package-up the network in more interesting ways.

There’s four pillars to our packaging strategy: There’s the “broadcast packs” that reach our advertiser’s demographic targets. There’s the “activation packs”, which are impact opportunities like the consecutives down in York Street, or doing a category lockout across the whole City of Sydney.

There’s our “category packs” [which are] things like our “finance pack”, our “travel enthusiast pack”. And then there’s our “themed pack” [of which] our “socially conscious pack” is one of those, but also the “professionals pack” and our “youth pack”. And there’s a number of others in the portfolio too. There’s lots of ways you can mix and match and deliver to unique campaign objectives that you have.


How targeted will this advertising be? Not to get all Black Mirror-ish, but will certain advertisements be able to scan passersby and specifically target them for their campaign? Or maybe even guess their gender?

Enright: (Laughs) No, we won’t be watching, and we won’t be scanning anyone. [We’re] using our partnership with Hemisphere and bringing in new data sets like transactional data. We also use DSpark data as well, which gives us audience demographics. We can broadly understand the audience that can be reached through every individual panel in the network. It’s not down to individual. It’s an aggregated data set that helps us say, “That panel does better against this kind of consumer than that panel.”


Considering all this newly available tech, what’s being done to educate the agencies – namely the creatives – on how to work with the new screens?

Enright: Obviously today is an important milestone for us, and I think the work [really] begins after today. Today is about the very high level direction we’ll be taking. After today we’ll be coming out with a lot of detail around our packaging, our data sets, our pricing, and it’ll be an education job that we roll out through all agencies, including creative agencies and marketers themselves.

Fairhurst: It’s also been an evolving story, Vincent. Digital outdoor has been around for quite a few years and us – and other operators – have spent a lot of time educating marketers and media buyers on the benefits and capabilities of digital-out-of-home in terms of flexibility, agility, contextual relevance, [and] the ability to serve multiple messages at different times of the day or week.

The next iteration of that is some of the data overlays that allow you to optimize one-to-many medium. We’re still not one-to-one, but we’re helping you hone in more tightly on your target audience.


Has QMS conducted any research on how people engage with the new platforms? If so, what were the findings?

Enright: We’re focused on the rollout now. But next year – once the network is installed – we’ll be doing a significant amount of research as to what the power of the network really is.

We use neuro insights. We’ve done a number of studies in the neuro-insight space. We’ve shown using digital-out-of-home – evolving your creative – improves campaign effectiveness by 38 per cent. We’re going to do more studies specifically around the City of Sydney using that methodology, but also [by] looking at other things in terms of the performance and effectiveness through attribution campaigns, through brand uplift studies. We have a big roadmap of insight pieces of me to go once the network is installed.


Has the new infrastructure been trialed in anywhere else? Did you take inspiration from the rollout of digital furniture in other cities?

Fairhurst: We’ve certainly kept abreast with benchmarks from around the world, and developed our technology and capability accordingly. Importantly, this is a partnership with the City of Sydney. We’ve engaged in agreed architects in Grimshaw’s and worked with them to ensure beautiful design, [and] great functionality that meets with current standards of accessibility and inclusiveness.



The pandemic has undoubtedly impacted outdoor advertising. Did you learn anything from that in terms of people returning to the CBD and engaging with outdoor?

Fairhurst: We certainly did. Having that mobility data has been really great. Right through this period it’s enabled us to protect our customers by being able to guarantee audience and optimise their campaigns along the way.

But it’s also given us a great understanding of what happens when things open up. And what we’ve seen is the longer the lockdown the greater the surge when things open up because people can’t wait to get back out there to meet with friends, meet with colleagues, go to lunch, go for a drink, to explore! There’s only so much loungeroom time you can do.

We’ve seen a really great surge in audience in the few short weeks since Sydney opened. We’ve seen a replication of that in Melbourne, albeit a couple weeks behind the Sydney market. Therefore, we’ve got great confidence in a return to normality in terms of audience delivery as we move forward and roll this network out.

Enright: In some ways we feel like we have the best of both worlds in the city of Sydney geography. We do have a CBD that is coming back to life. Even through some of the periods over the last two years the scale of the audience in the CBD still means the panels and formats in that network still over-deliver in terms of audience scale.

But also, we have those distinctive residential precincts that sit around the CBD. That’s where you get this “best of both worlds” model in terms of this specific offer.

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