Channel 4 News

Brief

I was working with an agency in London called The Cloud and Compass when an interesting creative brief dropped on our desks. The agency specialise in real-time marketing and real-world interaction. Playing with data was our thing. A leading Digital-Out-of-Home specialist called Posterscope had been asked by The London Underground to help them do something interesting with their under-utilised CBS XTP Network. These were the huge overhead projectors on the platforms of certain tube stations. Knowing we had a thing for data, Posterscope wondered if we might be able to create a real-time campaign and had just the client to partner with. Channel 4 News wanted to reach out to commuters travelling home on the Underground in the early evening.

Proposal

We worked very closely with Channel 4 News and their creative design agency to produce a set of Live Poster templates. These templates would be designed to render news headlines, stories, photos etc. There were also templates for Word Clouds and social media updates.

Content needed to be updated quickly and always relevant to the changing audience. For this reason it was imperative that we also provided a robust Content Management System for the news editors to author their stories.

Production

After signing off on the UX and design of the templates I began work on the build. I used Flex and MXML for authoring the Flash templates as it allowed me to easily create responsive layouts. I built a library of components that were interchangeable and customisable. It was important that we were able to repurpose the work later for other projects.

We worked closely with technicians at CBS Outdoor to make sure the XTP Network was capable of projecting the Flash media we had built and this revealed other issues we hadn’t considered. The projection technology compensated for the curvature of the wall in the underground with a software-led solution that had a huge impact on the frame-rate of animations. We had to adjust our creative accordingly and re-think the video templates we were hoping to use.

Our CMS had to be able to deliver updated content to the servers running the projectors and for this we had to FTP the files directly. There was also a considerable amount of UX work required so that we were sure to cover all the use-cases. The CMS had different roles for Editors, Administrators and Moderators and each had their own stories. A moderator had to be able to pull a story at the last minute and the media had to fall-back appropriately.

After a few weeks of development and stress-testing, we finally had a system that was ready to use.

Results

During the campaign, intention to view Channel 4 News rose to 76%. Even among those who had never watched the program the figure was a staggering 65%.

The campaign won Love Content’s ‘Digital Out-Of-Home Innovation’ Award 2012 and was shortlisted for the Festival of Media Global Awards ‘Best Use of the Digital Landscape’ category 2012.

You can view more information about the campaign on Liveposter.com