At Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield we are embarking on the beginning of an exciting journey that will reshape our business to focus on our core strengths in Europe, create a new media platform and unlock value from our asset portfolio to generate sustainable growth by 2024 and beyond.

Thanks to our unrivalled assets, we have a vast physical and digital audience. Our European portfolio provides a unique platform of digitally linked shopping and leisure destinations under the iconic Westfield brand that collectively reaches approximately 550 million visits in Europe and 800 million internationally. What is perhaps less known is that we also attract 40 million unique visitors to our digital assets and social channels, and we have a database of 14 million individual contacts, mostly coming from our growing Loyalty program.

We consider our flagship centres not only as shopping and lifestyle destinations but also as a powerful media network and a leading player in the advertising market demonstrated through our 1,700 DOOH screens across our centres in Europe. And this will grow - we are investing in our media assets and data capabilities over the course of the coming years, and have created a dedicated pan-European Media, Brand and Data Partnerships division which will serve our clients in a coordinated way going forward.

This dynamic network creates a unique opportunity for us to offer a qualified audience to retailers, advertisers and brands leveraging our physical assets and digital presence, commercial retail offer, foot traffic and consumer data.  To accomplish this, we have adopted a “one platform, one audience, one inventory” approach; and under the lead of our newly formed division, we are in the process of delivering a fully GDPR-compliant data platform of on and offline advertising using qualified data sets at a global scale. This will give brands unprecedented insight into who is coming to Westfield centres, their shopping behaviour and how they respond to different types of advertising – allowing retailers to better tailor their stores, branding and promotions to the millions of people walking through our doors. It will also allow us to operate a shift in the way we sell media within our destinations, from booking spaces and screens to monetising qualified audiences with integrated advertising performance measurement (media Return on Investment), which represents a game changer in the physical media business.

We already know from our European research that consumers spend 17percent more time in our destinations vs our peers. Interestingly, on top of spending more time, they also spend 15percent more money per year at our locations. In addition, the average spend of omnichannel shoppers is 30percent higher than single-channel ones, and we estimate that omnichannel customers make up 70percent of consumers at our malls. Using technology and data to connect brands directly to these shoppers not only will enhance the consumer experience, but also create better opportunities for brands to convert more sales in a cookieless environment.

“Using technology and data to connect brands directly to these shoppers not only will enhance the consumer experience, but also create better opportunities for brands to convert more sales in a cookieless environment.”

We’re already seeing this come to life in ‘drive to store’ media campaigns by leveraging out-of-home advertising within centres to drive footfall to store and sales conversion. One example of this is our recent partnership with French top retailer FNAC at Westfield Velizy 2 centre in the Paris area to deliver the first programmatic Digital Out of Home (DOOH) advertising campaign in France with a comprehensive business impact measurement.

Showcasing the power of audience-based media, the partnership involved using programmatic technology to make our media inventory available online, on top of in-mall GDPR-compliant flow analysis to monitor the incremental traffic generated to the store. This innovative campaign allowed FNAC to understand to what extent in-mall advertising can influence shoppers to visit its stores.  Over a 10-day trial period, results not only showed a demonstrated increase in foot traffic for FNAC but also allowed them to compare the performance of the different advertising creatives to influence their global future media planning.

What’s clear is that technology is enabling our business to turn our centres into digitally linked shopping and lifestyle destinations, which give brands access to a huge global audience across Europe and the United States. What’s unique is that our offer allows them to “close the loop” in their media campaigns, linking the leverage of URW media spaces to measurable business impact. In an increasingly cookieless media environment, using first-party data close to the purchasing act is a major advantage of our value proposition.

We are excited to continue to establish our position as a leading player in the out of home advertising space and to deliver better experiences for retailer and brands, as digital and data technology enables them to create even closer bonds with the consumers they want to reach.