Big Data Billboards

This blog will focus on the London based outdoor media analytics organisation Route.  Route is a non –profit making organisation, run on commercial principles.  Route is using big data to define and justify its pricing model for advertising space on billboards, benches and the sides of buses. Traditionally, outdoor media pricing was priced “per impression” based on an estimate of how many eyes would see an advertisement in a given day.  In my opinion Route makes this method of pricing advertisement space, appear inaccurate and outdated.

How does it work?

Route use sophisticated GPS, eye-tracking studies, and analysis of traffic patterns to have a much more realistic idea of which advertisements will be seen the most and which audience demography are looking.  This enables the company to provide data for their customers to strategise and maximize the best advertising campaign possible.

Route invested 19 million pounds in creating this pioneering new research, which for the first time covers every advertising frame in Great Britain including tube, rail, roadside, buses, retail and airports. The technologies used enable Route to know everything about the consumer as they move about their world i.e. how they behave, who they are and, exactly what they see.

The data that they publish tells their customers how many people see an advertising campaign, and how often they do so. The information is used for planning, trading and valuing advertisement investment. They began by following and plotting the movements of people all over Great Britain. In the largest gps study of its kind, they collected tracking data from 30,000 people. Combining this with detailed traffic patterns and street networks they were able to build up a clear and a precise picture of the population’s movements.

Their GPS tracking is recorded passively without any input from the carrier producing an authentic picture of travel behavior. With every single frame mapped in precise detail at ground level. They build an accurate calculation of the numbers of people moving past any media site, but this isn’t all. Pioneering eye tracking studies allow them to determine who will make eye contact with any given advertising frame. These studies also take into account if the frame is digital, scrolling or static. They then break down the data even further into specific demographic detail, painting the clearest possible picture of exactly who makes up the audience for every frame.  Advertising from roadside, buses and airports, to retail and cross-track. In fact wherever the poster site is, they know the audience. This all adds up to the most comprehensive picture ever off outdoor audiences, who they are and exactly what they see. You can access this research by simply logging into route, wherever you are. So whether your planning, buying or evaluating campaigns. Route has the outdoor information you need.


Route’s analytical approach to the outdoor advertising market would be hard to argue with.  With a 19 million pound investment in their research and development of their process, it’s clear that they have a winning product in hand.

“Out of home adspend grew 3.9% to a record high of £1.1bn in 2015. Of this, adspend on digital panels rose strongly by 22% to £332m. Total out of home adspend is expected to rise a further 4.9% in 2016”(IABUK, 2016).  So with an increase in adspend on digital panels, Route are in a strong position to accurately provide data for companies looking to a) enter the out of home advertisment space or b) evaluate their current positioning in the out of home advertisement space market.  Route runs a quarterly cycle of data production. Every three months, they take a ‘snapshot’ of their inventory mapping system. The ad sites that are in the system at that time are included in the next Route data release.  To top it all off you can access the research on a smartphone or mobile device at any given time, which gives a company the flexibility of monitoring their add space with out the need to meet in person with the Route staff, headquatered in London.


Bernard Marr. 2015. The 7 Most Unusual Applications of Big Data You’ve Ever Seen!. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2017].

Route. 2017. home. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2017].

Internet Advertising Bureau UK. 2016. UK advertising spend passes £20bn as growth hits five-year high . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 18 March 2017].

Images: Source: Screenshot(s) from Route. (2015). Data to shape the future. [Online Video].  2015. Available from: [Accessed: 18 March 2017].

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