THE MEDIA YEARBOOK: The advent of digital technology has ‘revolutionised’ the international out of home (OOH) media industry, which as a sector is seeing steady growth around the world, according to Nancy Fletcher, president and chief executive of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA).
“We will continue to see more growth in 2015,” she says. “We can expect to see more digital OOH installations and the use of social media connections that engage consumers, such as bus shelters that offer an augmented reality experience,” says Fletcher.
Mark Flys, general secretary of Fédération de la Publicité Extérieure (FEPE), the international OOH industry body, says 2015 will
bring more digital advertising panels and the use of beacon technology (tiny low-powered radio transmitters that send signals to phones just feet away) to harness the synergy with mobile. He says there may be more use of near field communication (NFC) – a short-range, low-power wireless link that can transfer small amounts of data between two devices – if Apple allows the NFC chip in the new iPhone to be used for more than their payment system.
Flys is more cautious than Fletcher about OOH growth in 2015. “There are signs that OOH’s market share will be stable and in some markets show growth, synonymous with the increase in digital opportunities,” he says.
Fletcher says the US OOH sector will continue to gain more share in the advertising market as more brands rely on OOH to intercept active and hard-to-reach consumers who spend 70% of their waking hours away from home. “As our society becomes more mobile savvy, the US OOH industry will offer consumers more ways to engage with brands via social media, connecting them personally to advertisers,” she says.
“And with America’s economy continuing to improve to pre-recession levels, there will be continued revenue growth in the OOH industry, albeit at a slower rate than in the past few years. However, we can expect to see digital inventory increase in the next 12 months across all OOH segments.”
Flys and Fletcher say legislative controls will continue to be a real concern for OOH internationally. “While most jurisdictions allow all
forms of OOH inventory, a few have been slow to embrace digital billboards,” says Fletcher. “OAAA will continue to work closely with OOH media companies to educate regulators and local officials about the benefits that digital billboards bring to local economies.”
Fletcher says the impact of digital technology has been considerable, not only in terms of structures, such as digital billboards and place-based networks, but also in the way consumers can engage immediately with brands using smartphones and tablets.
Flys agrees, saying digital technology has “energised the sector, allowing OOH to find new ways of complementing and competing with other media”. He believes it also allows shorter campaign periods and immediate copy changes.
In terms of growth areas, Fletcher says the US OOH industry has worked collectively over the past two years to redefine the OOH business in ways that have caused advertisers to think and act differently about the medium.
“The OOH industry has embraced innovation in all its forms to improve the overall customer experience, leading to better service, more accountable metrics and a more creative product,” she says.
Flys predicts growth will be in digital but “there are definitely opportunities in the more traditional sector if image can be improved”.
Fletcher says US OOH ad spend has grown steadily for the past 17 consecutive quarters, generating nearly $7 billion in ad revenue annually. “OOH share has grown in the past few years from 4% to 5.2% and this will continue because OOH demonstrates the core values of message amplification, connection and activation,” she says.
Flys is not as positive in terms of Europe, saying, “Signs are that OOH ad spend will be stable and show slight increases in some markets.”
They agree that the most innovative additions to OOH are the use of technology to geo-fence OOH locations as it allows advertisers to better pinpoint messaging to specific consumers.
FEPE’s research shows consumers are almost constantly in touch with their surroundings through their smartphones, says Flys, adding that “imaginative use of joint mobile and OOH campaigns will help drive the link with advertisers”.
Fletcher believes OOH needs to reach and impress the ‘millennials’ generation, and agencies need to create “campaigns that can go viral by placing the excitement and engagement OOH can generate into the palms of every consumer”. While great strides have been made in embracing digital technology, she encourages “OOH industries around the world to enhance audience measurement to drive accountability that is comparable to accepted metrics for other traditional and new media”.
IMAGE: Beacon technology
This post was first published in 2015 The Media Yearbook. A digital version of the full magazine can be downloaded here.
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