How Shinola ‘Rolled Up Its Sleeves’ To Link Location Insights With Outdoor Ads

The upscale Detroit retailer Shinola tapped MullenLowe Mediahub and PlaceIQ to connect local audiences in six markets to larger national stories.

In its outdoor ad campaign that kicked off in New York this past March, Shinola sought to tap into the old-fashioned virtues of “hard work” while showcasing its aura as a startup that is bent on “giving back” to the communities its in.

The Roll Up Our Sleeves campaign reflects the ideals of the luxury manufacturer and retailer that sells everything from retro-stylized watches to bicycles to leather goods and stereo equipment.

The brand, which was launched in 2011 by a Texas investment group and adopted Detroit as its manufacturing headquarters, wanted to hone in on specific audience segments in places that indicated a sense of shared values and interests. And that’s where the focus on employing location-based analytics and targeting came into play.

“The ability to connect with very specific set of buyers based on their real-world affinities is a powerful one,” said Jacques Panis, president of Shinola. “One of our goals is ensuring we deliver unique experiences that resonate best with our buyers.”

“We can engage with very distinct audiences that fit within our core audience, such as those who stay at boutique hotels, work in creative roles, and purchase items from artisanal eateries, for example,” Panis added. “With location-aware context and dynamic ad units, we’ve been able to deliver increased relevancy to buyers, which significantly drives store traffic and sales.”

Location-Marketing Messages

But aside from demonstrating its cool factor, Shinola’s ad campaign was also intended to appeal to locals’ sense of earnestness. Rather than just focusing on the attractive products themselves, the campaign features “people who have benefitted their communities through hard work and innovation,” says Elizabeth Fermon, associate media director, MullenLowe Mediahub.

Among the people featured on the billboards are Nadine Harris, who is the founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness; Brit Gilmore, president of the Giving Keys, which helps youth transitioning out of homelessness; Richard Garcia, the founder Alma Backyard Farms, who gives people that were previously incarcerated a chance to give back to their communities through farming.

But in order to ensure that the right consumers were getting the message at the right time — such as when they were commuting to work — Mediahub teamed up with geo-data specialist PlaceIQ to analyze the links between the billboards, the stores, and consumers’ location habits across Shinola’s six key markets: Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.

“PlaceIQ would know if people walked by one of the out-of-home ads and then message them,”Fermon told GeoMarketing. “We also used the data on those targets to understand where they tend to go in their respective cities. Shinola had a relatively small marketing budget, so one of the goals was to minimize waste and communicate directly with interested consumers.”

Geofencing the stores was another important aspect of extending the outdoor effort to on-the-go consumers. PlaceIQ helped deliver targeted messages around the stores that were personalized for each location and city.

Shinola’s Detroit retail location

An Online/Offline Audience Extension Strategy

Relying on location data would help Shinola better understand and segment consumer audiences, and allow it to develop “dynamic creative” mobile ad units based on unique audience affinities, noted Drew Breunig, PlaceIQ’s SVP Strategy.

“The dynamic mobile creative took up the themes and stores from the out-of-home execution and made them interactive and personal,” Breunig said. “One of the pleasures of working with Shinola is how well they understand their consumers and their story.”

“We weren’t expecting to find any surprises,”Breunig continued. “But what we did find was greater insight and detail on top of what already existed. People who go to coffee shops, vegan restaurants, jazz clubs – these are people who are seeking out direct experiences. And that’s something Shinola as a brand can tap into and relate to as well.”

The campaign also demonstrated how geo-data and the concepts associated with location-based advertising are also influencing the creative aspects, not just ad delivery and targeting.

The specific messages in the campaign were based on the location an ad was served and interactive product galleries for audiences to explore Shinola products. These custom creative units featured recognizable landmarks and local icons, such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and played a key role in helping to optimize brand exposure among key consumer audiences, Fermon said.

Shinola in NYC

It Comes Down To Metrics

Attribution — knowing whether someone who saw a billboard, and then saw the mobile extension of it, went into a store as a result — represents the ultimate value, Fermon noted.

While Shinola isn’t revealing the final results, the companies say that they were able to track customers are a particularly deep level.

“PlaceIQ would know if people walked by one of the out-of-home ads and then message them,” Fermon said. “We also used the data on those targets to understand where they tend to go in their respective cities. Shinola had a relatively small marketing budget, so one of the goals was to minimize waste and communicate directly with interested consumers.”

A recent trend among a number of platform companies and location marketing specialists involves a guarantee for performance of whether their ads achieved their aims for brick-and-mortar visitation.

In March, discount shopping app Retale rolled out its “Store Traffic Guarantee” for ad campaigns on its platform a week after location marketplace GroundTruth (formerly known as xAd) released its Cost-Per-Visit ad format with Applebee’s and The Home Depot.

In a blog post published last month, Duncan McCall, CEO and Co-Founder, PlaceIQ, offered a critique of the Cost-Per-Visit model, suggesting that “the allure of simplicity is concealing some troubling details.”

“We don’t have an issue with Cost-Per-Visit per se, but we do have a huge issue with the way it’s being measured and spent,” said Breunig. “In our investigations, the match-rate has averaged out to 0.4 percent on the high end and 0.2 percent on the low end.

If you’re looking at just that and a handful of billboards, as in the case of the Shinola campaign, that’s just “untenable,” Breunig said.

“Given that we believe that Place Visit Rate is a strong way to measure the efficacy of a campaign, and because we’re not using a panel to do that, we have statistical significance that we can start to apply across all the mobile markets associated with the campaign,” he added “My issue is with taking that small match-rate size, where you’re only looking at maybe a couple hundred people while charging for millions of impressions off of that. That is a bad step for the industry.”

As for Fermon, Mediahub is continuing to examine ways that location data can provide deeper insights into consumers’ place-based patterns.

“One of our core principles is helping brands reinvent the way they market to consumers,” said Fermon. “Our approach to increasing store traffic was by marrying data and creative in a unique way in our key markets, by continuing the message beyond OOH and by surrounding the places our targets frequent, like The Ace Hotel in LA or the Hudson River Park in NYC. By creating dynamic messaging based on consumers’ location Shinola continues to embody its strengths as an innovative brand that delivers a localized experience in every city, both in their advertising and in their stores.”