Back in June 2020, QMS pulled off a major coup, snaring the City of Sydney’s outdoor assets away from rival JCDeceaux in a 10 year deal reported to be worth $300 million. COVID has made the changeover and erection of new street furniture challenging, but here B&T chats with Jemma Enright who joined the business in April to lead its brand new City of Sydney media offering and to learn how things are progressing despite the city’s ongoing lockdowns…
Simple first question – when does QMS takeover from JCDecaux? Or has that already begun?
We will officially take over once our new, redesigned street furniture replaces the existing infrastructure on the ground. Given the size of the contract, this will happen in stages that have been agreed upon by all parties. We are currently anticipating that we will start to see our assets come online from early December.
The new QMS network will roll out in tranches as agreed between the City of Sydney and JCDecaux. The first tranche focuses on bus shelters in the surrounding suburbs of the City of Sydney and will commence on 1 November. The second tranche covers bus shelters in the CBD and will commence 18 January 2022. The Telstra Payphone advertising panels will also be decommissioned in this tranche. The final tranche will see kiosks and toilets in the CBD transition over from 15 February 2022.
I understand the rollout is behind schedule due to COVID? When will it begin? What size of investment are we looking at?
The removal and installation of new bus shelters within the local government area of City of Sydney has been delayed by two months, from 1 September to 1 November. That is a decision by the City of Sydney, which has been prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Sydney lockdown. For us, this decision is not surprising; it is the sensible thing to do to ensure a smooth and safe start to the development of the new street furniture network.
A significant investment has been made to transform the City’s street furniture infrastructure, replacing the existing assets, which are over 20 years old. That involves careful planning to ensure the new infrastructure serves Sydneysiders better and provides the right accessibility to all people who live, work and play in the City of Sydney. I’m sure you can imagine that means there has already been a tremendous amount of work involved
If I’m not mistaken, all the street furniture, signage, shelters have to be replaced? Have the plans for the new designs been released?
The advertising displays will be absolutely world class. Think big, beautiful, digital screens that will add serious wow-factor to the streets of Sydney. They have been collaboratively designed with world-renowned architects, Grimshaw, the City of Sydney and ourselves to ensure they enhance the City and meet today’s standards of function, accessibility and sustainability. Importantly, the frameworks of the Disability Discrimination Act and the Inclusiveness Standards have been closely followed so the new network will be compliant and built on the principles of equal access for all.
We are getting close to revealing the designs and product features to the market, but you will have to wait a little longer.
That will create a lot of disruptions (I would imagine). That could prove a PR nightmare for QMS?
We have a very thorough and carefully thought out roll out plan that we have developed with the City of Sydney to ensure disruptions are kept to a minimum through each stage of the rollout.
You obviously won the business over your competitors. What did you offer that swung the contract your way?
We presented fresh thinking. That, plus our proven track record for building world-class DOOH assets reflected the vision of City of Sydney. We also offered a true partnership approach, working with the City to reimagine Australia’s most prestigious OOH assets, determined to create a modern offering that is premium, high impact, digitally-led and data-enabled.
When functioning, what can advertisers expect in the digital space?
The first thing for advertisers to understand is it’s more than just Sydney’s CBD, the City of Sydney covers 26 square-kilometres, including 10 distinct precincts and over 30 of Sydney’s most desirable suburbs stretching from the CBD to Potts Point, Paddington, Annandale, Alexandria and Pyrmont. The City is Australia’s economic epicentre, driving 7% of the country’s GDP. Home to 26% of Australia’s start-ups, it is also an innovation hub with a distinctive geography that delivers a high-value and high-density audience.
The new QMS City of Sydney street furniture network will change the game for advertisers. Seventy per cent of the locations will be digital, that’s a significant increase in the number of digital panels. A network this digital will be easy to buy but offer advertisers greater scope to build campaigns across a broader range of package options. Our DYNAMiQ data platform capabilities will deliver both greater opportunities to target as well provide complete campaign delivery transparency to give advertisers the confidence that we deliver exactly what they plan and buy.
Our DOOH focus will allow brands to execute strategies across the whole funnel from awareness, consideration and of course purchase. It’s a huge commercial opportunity.
Have you been liaising with agencies regarding the coming plans? Have you been liaising with clients? What’s been the reaction there?
We’re really pleased with the level of interest from leading marketers and media agencies. At this stage more than 30 brands have expressed interest in partnering on the launch of our premium network of street furniture next year.
We’ve seen very high interest from marketers and agencies wanting their brands to be part of the early rollout, allowing them to capitalise on the attention the new network commands. It is, after all, a rare opportunity to be associated with the highly anticipated next leap in Sydney’s future.
There’s been an argument that creative agencies often lag when it comes to what DOOH can offer. Would you agree with that? Is that an education thing?
I think that is fair to say and is exactly why we have spent a lot of time and money to discover how we can help improve this.
We recently launched a new global-first neuroscience study which examined the impact of a campaign that evolves creatively. The study found that the dynamic capabilities of DOOH actually drive 38% better results compared to those that are static. You can’t ignore those numbers. The study also found that even little changes, like daily weather updates, or a simple update to copy is all that is required to deliver much stronger results.
Has QMS modelled its plans on any other cities? If so, which ones?
City of Sydney is a unique environment, so our offering has been created with the goal to help bring the City’s 2030 vision to life with a more sustainable and connected city for those who work, live and play here.
Having said that, we have looked to numerous cities including London, Amsterdam and Paris as leaders in street furniture advertising. We’ve used them as a benchmark, taking key learnings and applying our own world leading DOOH understanding to develop Sydney’s unique and most sought after OOH opportunity. We are determined to provide the best infrastructure possible for the City and all of its audiences while, of course, providing a truly modern opportunity for advertisers to connect with audiences.
What are the ad categories that would best suit QMS’s plans for Sydney?
In the conversations we have had to date, there are some categories for which this geography and audience are in particularly high demand. They include finance, insurance, entertainment, retail, technology and online services, telecommunications, automotive and FMCG – all of whom have engaged actively.
How much has QMS had to up-staff its own business to cater for the contract? What specialists does a job this size entail?
Once completely up and running, our team will see at least 40 new hires join the business from sales, marketing, operations and maintenance.
From a sales and servicing perspective, we will invest in a team of City of Sydney specialists to actively engage with agencies and advertisers, respond to briefs and educate the market. We will also add some firepower in the form of strategic and research resources to drive the effective planning and buying of the network.
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