Data-Driven Digital OOH Campaign Boosts Railway Rider Counts By Warning Of Crappy Weather

February 15, 2017 by Dave Haynes

Here’s a simple but compelling application of data-driven content for digital out of home advertising – digital billboard messages shaped and triggered by weather forecasts and reports.

Canada’s passenger rail service Via Rail ran a campaign with integrated messaging across out-of-home, mobile and online that was built around storm messaging. The messaging intensified as a winter storm got closer, and ads were tailored around what was coming.

In winter, a lot of people can hop on a train for a relatively hassle-free journey between Ottawa/Montreal and Toronto, or they can crawl along a 400-series highway in a blizzard, and get there eventually, exhausted and mentally fried.

The campaign, reports the Out-of-home Marketing Association of Canada (OMAC), targeted consumers who might be impacted by blizzards, heavy snowfalls and freezing rain. Via analyzed their daily sales reports and compared them to historical data from The Weather Network. The findings showed a 52% increase in visits to the Via Rail website before snowstorms, peaking on actual snowstorm days.

So they, presumably working with an agency, develop the targeting campaign.

The results: When storms hit the Toronto-Montreal route, ridership increased as much as 43% than on an average weekday. This campaign also saw an increase of up to 319% in conversions versus Via’s regular campaigns.

The OMAC piece doesn’t really get into how the results differed from previous storm days along that route. It would make sense that ridership would see some kind of a boost on snow days, campaign or not.

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