VIA Rail
Omni: A trusted partner for first-party data usage
Using Omni, we found a safe and confidential way to integrate first-party data for VIA Rail for the first time in a media campaign, helping them get more precision in the activation and gain insights about consumer behaviour.

The challenge

It has always been a challenge for VIA Rail, a Crown Corporation, to use and share first-party data from their loyalty program with external partners, especially given the company's concerns about privacy and the multiple internal departments that would need to be involved to share it.

To recover from the pandemic with a limited media budget, VIA Rail wanted to launch a new campaign directed only at existing customers and their most relevant segments.

 We knew that tapping into VIA Rail's first-party data would be critical to reaching their goals. However, the company was understandably reluctant to share its first-party data and the segments were difficult to recreate, as they were based on psychograpic attributes.

Business success

Transactions YoY during the campaign period
+166 %
Average CPA for CRM conversion tactics
-10 %
Average CPM compared to other tactics
-20 %

Gaining trust through our expertise

To activate this campaign, we needed to completely rethink our audience strategy for this client.

 The first step was to gain access to the client’s CRM data. We needed to show them we were a trustworthy partner and that there was no risk in sharing their data with us. To do this, we developed a strategy where we would share our media data directly in their CRM, as a show of good will to encourage data-sharing between both parties.

 The second step was to recreate the client’s segments from a media standpoint. Though we had previously created audiences for the client, we needed to refine our segments with data not available on major media activation platforms so we could reach a relevant target during the pandemic.

 Finally, we activated both first-party data and relevant segments through our DSPs to make sure we were reaching only people likely to travel by train during the pandemic.

The approach
To accomplish the different steps, we had to apply very technical expertise combined with a collaborative approach with the client. We wanted to show that our expertise could help them in this difficult situation, but we also wanted to involve them in the process so that they could understand why sharing data and creating new audiences was essential to the success of the campaign.

Updated CRM infrastructure

Since the client was hesitant to share their CRM with us for creating audiences, we decided to help them first by enriching their database with our tracked media data. Through custom variables generated by our floodlights, we were able to retrieve the Transaction ID for each conversion that was attributed to media campaigns. With the conversion ID, VIA Rail was then able to match each media touchpoint generated by our campaigns with their CRM. This was possible through a scheduled daily report that we sent containing each user's path-to-conversion, combined with the conversion ID generated by the transaction. Our proactive data-sharing initiative did not stop there. We also walked the client through understanding the media data, helped them with data visualization and took great care to ensure that all of our actions were in compliance with their privacy policy. VIA Rail was extremely happy with the results of this data sharing, which improved their CRM. With this mutual trust established, we were able to start discussions around sharing their first-party data with us.

Creating Segments with Audience Explorer

With Lotame and Environics data, Audience Explorer in Omni was the perfect platform to use in order to recreate these complex segments. We performed many tests within the platform to identify the most relevant attributes to use. We also used Envision to confirm the credibility of the audiences based on the chosen attributes. The client was involved in the process to make sure that the audiences we created matched the segmentation study they had commissioned. We were then able to recreate the final segments in Omni in order to activate them.


Throughout this process, we were able to show the client that they could trust us as a partner. Because of this, they agreed to share first-party data so that we could activate the campaign to reach existing customers. To maximize our reach while targeting relevant users, we also activated the Omni segments through our DSPs.

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We are steadfast in our belief that marketing and media creativity needs to be constantly redefined. Because we are emboldened by the ever-more meaningful, memorable and impactful connections this creates between a brand and its audiences. And most importantly, because it drives business success.