Google’s Eric Schmidt once said that 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years. Or was that just articles about data? Nevertheless, this article is less about hard data that drives efficiencies, and more about the ways it is being applied creatively.

In the quantified age, everything from our sleeping patterns to our emotional reactions are being captured. The opportunity is there for advertisers to harness this data, and apply it to spark creativity. This is already happening – and being recognised – on a large scale. Last year, Cannes Lions introduced a Creative Data category to celebrate the impact of data on creativity within the advertising industry.

In the out of home (OOH) industry, brands are increasingly incorporating data into campaigns to bring them to life in unexpected ways. We know that OOH has the ability to present eye-catching creative while people are searching for inspiration, but thanks to data it can now deliver useful and productive messaging unprompted when they are at their most connected and engaged.

Google’s Popular Times is a great example of an initiative leveraging this knowledge creatively. By gathering data around the specific places certain consumers visit, Popular Times can deliver insight via the Google Search app into the busiest periods experienced by those places and help consumers better plan their trip. Brands could leverage this data, for example, and use digital OOH screens in proximity to each venue to target consumers with useful information in real-time.

Taxi Trails, meanwhile, is tapping into this need by using the data generated from Taxi Stockholm customer journeys to create a visual online guide for visitors to the city, indicating where locals go, popular places to eat and socialise, and where to receive the best cultural fixes. This data could be applied to all major tourist cities via DOOH screens to direct tourists, either facilitating their movement around the city or pointing them to something new and exciting.

By integrating this kind of consumer data with OOH campaigns, brands can bring an idea to life and target the right people with it, in the right location, at exactly the right time. And it’s not just about impacting individuals, either. Some of the most inspirational work has managed to bring people together in unexpected ways.

Spotify’s Serendipity, developed by digital artist Kyle Macdonald, is a fascinating way to leverage quirky data to create fun links between Spotify’s customers. Based on real-time data recorded over an hour, an online map is generated to display a stream of coordinates when two users play the same song at exactly the same time (or rather, within one tenth of a second apart). Imagine taking this a step further and mapping everyone around the world who is listening to the same song at the same time, creating an intriguing visualisation of how music is listened to while highlighting the streaming service’s enormous reach.

In a more connected world, the data available to us becomes greater and more varied. And by mining for unusual datasets and applying them to OOH, campaigns can have an enormous impact.

With thanks to Julia Dobbin & Dominic Murray at Kinetic Worldwide