Data as a basis for creative recommendations


JCDecaux is the world's largest Out-of-Home advertising company with a presence in over 80 countries.  As part of their services, they cover the whole spectrum of out-of-home advertising, from strategy and design to installation and maintenance.

Chances are you have noticed their advertisement panels at a local bus stop, tram shelter or in your shopping street. Did you know that those bus stop panels were originally created by JCDecaux in 1964?!?

“We use to help new clients understand how out of home works”
Marc van Amerongen, Marketing Manager for JCDecaux Netherlands, explained that in the Netherlands, JCDecaux also operates a business unit called JCDecaux Studio’s. "This unit operates very much like a creative agency which means that we consult our clients on their existing creative, but we are also involved in the creation of new designs”.

Speaking to Marc made clear that, as part of the design process, JCDecaux adheres to several design principles. In addition, a set of solutions that help validate the quality of the design and, where needed, give input on what to improve or adjust.

  1. The initial step of the process is discussing with clients in order to understand what they are looking for. After that, it’s straight to the drawing board. JCDecaux will create several version of the same ad which all follow the company design principles.

  2. The second step involves the “Campaign Simulator”. In this step, the ads are digitally placed on the chosen out-of-home solution to create an image of what the ad would look like in real life. This tool enables JCDecaux to assess the readability of the ad version based on the content of the ad, the out-of-home solution and the surroundings.

  3. Out-of-home ads are interactive in the sense that most people view them while going about their daily routine. For this reason, JCDecaux has developed “Créaction”. This tool simulates an urban environment in virtual reality where ads appear on billboards and bus stops ,  enabling users of the tool to interact with the ad as they would in real life.

For the last few months, JCDecaux have been using at the end of their process to go one step further and understand whether people pay attention to the important elements in the ads or are distracted other elements in the ad or by the surroundings.

Based on more than 50 years of experience in the industry, JCDecaux has developed a sixth sense about which ad designs are likely to work well with out-of-home advertising. However, choosing the optimal design is up to the customer and is often a matter of taste. makes the decision easier by showing which version of the ad would most likely steer consumers’ attention to the packaging, logo, headline, or other important elements in the design.’s heatmap output substantiates JCDecaux’s sense of intuition.

“ facilitates discussions with creatives and helps provide evidence for our opinions.”
Having a tool like provides evidence for intuition previously unavailable, which in turn facilitates discussions with clients as well as creative teams. The fact that it’s scientifically valid and technology driven takes a lot of uncertainty out of the process. “We can now show our clients which of the presented options are likely to work best. This used to be more of an opinion based on experience but now we have scientific evidence backing our recommendation.”
“Our creative recommendations were sometimes regarded as mere opinions. With we now have proof”
Next to using at the end of the design process, it is also a useful tool during initial discussions with clients. It adds value to JCDecaux’s creative process by revealing the optimal design from out of the versions created. This can then be communicated by the sales team by showing customers how the various design options attract attention.

Additionally, it helps the sales team explain the nuances that lead to successful out-of-home advertising in a very simple and intuitive way. “This is particularly useful when talking to new clients that have not had any experience with out-of-home advertising in the past.”
“I see becoming a standard part of our process”.
JCDecaux managed to integrate as an additional step in their design process. In doing so they added an additional dimension to their product offering: Attention. This has helped the design team chose the best version of their design as well as the sales team communicate to clients why this is the optimal design.

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