JCDecaux, a vendor of French outdoor advertising space, used insight from noncustomers and challenged the implicit assumptions of the industry and pulled the mass of refusing noncustomers into its market.
Traditionally outdoor advertising was not a popular campaign medium for many companies because it was viewed only in a transitory way. Billboards typically were located on city outskirts and along roads where traffic quickly passed by; transport advertisement comprised panels on buses and taxies, which again people caught sight of only as they whizzed by. Especially for lesser-known companies, such advertising media was ineffective because it could not carry the comprehensive messages needed to introduce new names and products.
Having thought through the key commonalities that cut across refusing noncustomers of the industry, JCDecaux realized that the lack of stationary downtown locations was the key reason the industry remained unpopular and small. In searching for a solution, JCDecaux found that municipalities could offer stationary downtown locations, such as bus stops, where people tended to wait a few minutes and hence had time to read and be influenced by advertisements. JCDecaux reasoned that if it could secure these locations to use for outdoor advertising, it could reach beyond existing demand and convert noncustomers into customers.
This gave it the idea to provide street furniture, including maintenance and upkeep, free to municipalities. As long as the revenue generated from selling ad space exceeded the costs of providing and maintaining the furniture at an attractive profit margin, the company would be on a trajectory of strong, profitable growth. Accordingly, street furniture was created that would integrate advertising panels. In this way, JCDecaux created a breakthrough in value for advertisers, the municipalities, and itself.
By making ads available in city centers, the company significantly increased the average exposure time, improving the recall capabilities of this advertising medium. The increase in exposure time also permitted richer content and more complex messages.
In response to JCDecaux’s exceptional value offering, the mass of once refusing noncustomers flocked to the industry. Today, JCDecaux is the number one street furniture-based ad space provider worldwide, with 334,000 panels in forty-one countries. What’s more, by looking to refusing noncustomers and focusing on the key commonalities that turned them away from the industry, JCDecaux also increased the demand for outdoor advertising by existing customers of the industry.