How Smart Cities Are Creating New OOH Options For Marketers

Emerging smart city initiatives 'are an incredible emblem of urban progress,' says Loom Media's Jonathan Schulhof. 'They also happen to be a terrific medium for supporting sponsorship and marketing.'

With Dallas Group expanding its smart city programs with major brands like AT&T and Toyota, connectivity and shared mobility in urban centers is becoming a reality — creating substantial opportunities for marketers.

[There are many] elements of the new urban experience that brands could sponsor and derive a significant marketing and sponsorship benefit from,” said Jonathan Schulhof, founder and CEO of Loom Media. “And… the brand funding would help in fulfilling certain social promise at the same time.”

At CES, Schulhof talked to GeoMarketing about the opportunities that exists for marketers today as smart city technology proliferates — and what we’ll see tomorrow.

How did Loom Media come to be? And what do you see as the opportunity for marketers in the emerging ‘smart city’ landscape? 

Loom Media came about in part because of my involvement as an owner of bike sharing systems throughout North America.

Brand participation is a cornerstone of how bike sharing systems are financed, and it becomes an important element of how cities achieve their goals. It’s an incredible emblem of urban progress; it brings people together. And it also happens to be a terrific medium for supporting sponsorship and marketing through a variety of assets, from the physical media on the bikes to the digital media in terms of quantifying the experience. There’s also an experiential element: We’re providing mobility services to communities with a ton of earned media pickup —  because [the service] delights people and offers them something that they value in their everyday lives.

I created Loom with that goal in mind: to find other elements of the urban experience — shared community amenities — that brands could sponsor and derive a significant marketing and sponsorship benefit from, and where the brand funding would help in fulfilling certain social promise.

So the aim is for it to be a two-way street. It’s good for the city, it’s good for the brand.

Exactly. It’s good for the city, the community, the citizens — and it’s good for the brand.

At CES, we all love to get excited about the future of partnerships — the future of smart cities — and what they’re going to look like in the era autonomous driving. But, where are we before we get there? Where are we today in terms of shared mobility and the development of the smart city — and how should brands think about what actually exists and benefits their business now?

Mobility is one category, and I think this exists in lots of different categories.

Some of the things we’re thinking about: We believe that the growing influx of electric vehicles requires an infrastructure for charging those vehicles — and we see companies providing electric vehicle charging as an amenity, which is a great way [for brands] to play in this space. We recently partnered with a company called Volta that does exactly that: They put out a free electric vehicle charging spot with a digital screen that brands can leverage. So, that’s one example.

We also look at community experiences within the city, and analyze how they could be done better using digital technologies. One area we’re fascinated by is innovations in food and in food markets — specifically farmers markets, the ultimate emblem of the livable city.  This can also involve delivering workforce development and educational programs.

How can this help marketers clear some of the traditional ‘hurdles’ of out-of-home advertising?

We’re definitely thinking about media formats that can overcome some of the limitations of out-of-home. For example, you can’t put a billboard in Central Park and you never will be able to.

But, there are experiences within the park. Whether it’s around scheduling time in the park, or bringing augmented reality content to park events that create new opportunities — all of these things could be branded and become part of the experience. So, these are all areas that we’re excited about.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.