Go Back

Ordnance Survey – Driving Subscriptions Through Hyper-Targeted Strategies

The Start

In a move to re-invent one of England’s most established heritage brands, Ordnance Survey launched OS Maps in April 2016. A simple-to-use but feature-rich mapping app, driven by the UK’s best ‘off road’ mapping data. Hunterlodge were appointed to develop a brand strategy and integrated campaign to launch, raise awareness of, and drive paid subscriptions to the app from the UK’s community of Outdoor Enthusiasts, walkers, ramblers, runners and mountain bikers, to whom this technology would be indispensable.

However, from our market research, we learned that two-thirds of all paying subscribers to apps are under the age of 45. This presented a potential barrier to campaign success: research, conducted by YouGov, told us that most 18-34 year olds considered Ordnance Survey ‘old-fashioned’ while Google – provider of OS Maps’ biggest competitor, Google Maps – was perceived by this same cohort as ‘innovative’ and ‘reliable’.  Clearly, we needed to turn this sentiment around – make Ordnance Survey relevant to younger audiences – if we were to engage and secure buy-in from OS Maps’ most likely customer base.

The Middle

From our segmentation research, we knew time constraints were a major barrier to participation. To this end we chose to exploit digital media’s capacity to deliver messages at very specific times to reflect their current preoccupations – work, college, the commute. We chose images that reflected their urban reality at any given time – a train, a high street or tube station deploying the map symbol ‘You are here’. To convey empathy, we juxtaposed those images with others reflective of the Great Outdoors – places they’d rather be – deploying an alternative map symbol ‘when your heart lies here’.

With this hyper-targeted and time-specific creative approach we effectively positioned OS Maps not just as a functional navigational tool (a function that Google Maps could serve), but as something with a much higher purpose: that is, as a means of escape from the hum-drum to the awesome.

The End

Once emotional connections with younger audiences had been made – by demonstrating an understanding of their passion-points, and their barriers to participation – we needed then to deliver recurring incentives to trial the OS Maps product.

The campaign was rolled out across a range of platforms including radio, online, TV, digital display banners, YouTube Pre-rolls, Facebook (banners, sponsored posts and video), press ads, animation, exhibitions (PoS) and direct mail.

The main TV ad was housed on all digital channels to bring richness to digital destinations and the TV assets were subsequently edited into a series of 10-second animations for use in paid social.

Watch here.



We also recognised that the weather plays a key part in Outdoor Enthusiasts’ planning and felt that, aligning our message with the weekend’s forecast, would bring practical benefit to this community and prompt purchase consideration. To facilitate this Hunterlodge became the first UK agency – and Ordnance Survey the first UK brand – to make use of WeatherAds, a powerful weather targeting tool for AdWords, Facebook, and Instagram. Through this tool we were able to trigger ads and adjust bidding logic in Social and Search based on forecasted weather conditions.  If the weekend was predicted to be sunny, we encouraged users to “make the most of the sunshine”; if wet, to enjoy a welly walk with the family.

In addition to encouraging participation via weather-triggered messages, we also geo-targeted video content to users, reflecting great walks in their area that they could enjoy that coming weekend. For example, we targeted users in the central belt of Scotland with 3D views of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and users in Cumbrian towns with routes in the Lake District.


The Results

Our strategy of engaging young audiences with messaging that reflected their reality in real-time – their present location, the current weather conditions and areas of natural beauty on their doorstep – paid huge dividends. Over the campaign period the daily volume of 18-34 year olds visiting the OS Maps landing page increased by 88.5% and, because they were warmer to the Ordnance Survey proposition, their average session duration more than doubled.

So engaged were they, in fact, that they weren’t just browsing – they were buying too: 12.5% of all 18-34 year olds who visited the landing page via our highly contextual Instagram ads eventually took out a recurring annual subscription to OS Maps.

Our three-month Social campaign alone generated over 36,000 OS Map app downloads –  a return of £7.19 for every £1 spent.

OS Maps also went on to win the award for Best Digital Product at the 2017 Outdoor Industry Awards. Speaking of Hunterlodge’s contribution to OS Maps’ commercial – and award-winning success, Lee Newton, Head of Leisure at Ordnance Survey said:

“It was a great team effort from everyone involved – from the design and build through to the marketing that you guys have done!”

Want to see what we can do for you?

Show Me