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Communication Breakdown

demand for outdoor advertising should explode

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Shutterstock By Mitch Johanson


Communication Breakdown


OOH …Here’s One Thing  

by Jim Johnsen, 
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Co LLC



Anyone else like me think that Communication Breakdown by Led Zeppelin might be one of the best classic rock riffs of all time?  It’s impossible not to recognize the opening stanza.  Anyway, more on that in a little bit.  

I was just thinking about the long arc of communication recently and how it has shaped societies from the dawn of man.  And within that thought, I was thinking about how the march of civilization is directly tied to the acceleration of communication.  What do I mean by that?  Think about the world before the newspaper.  We were a bunch of tribes with almost no knowledge of the larger world (except perhaps during the Roman Empire, but they developed a very complex communication-messaging system).  Along came the newspaper and soon we had nationalism, the fall of monarchs and serfs demanding equal rights.  Hard to prove that communication didn’t have anything to do with the fall of the French, Russian or Ottoman empires.  I also speculate (since Bill Board gives me free reign) that the newspaper had something to do with the spread of imperialism, just as the telegraph and the pony express had something to do with our ability to “conquer” and populate the wild west.  Radio and television?  Without them (and Outdoor by the way) commercial enterprises wouldn’t have had the ability to build ginormous national brands relatively quickly.  The telephone? The capital markets couldn’t have exploded they way it has without it.  The tellie might have also have been one of the biggest contributors to the breakdown of the extended family and large migrations nationally and internationally.  If you can keep in touch with Aunt Mae at a moments notice, why not move to Albuquerque?

While all of the above made the world turn quicker, by getting us in touch and keeping us in touch faster, its hard to argue that the internet hasn’t dwarfed everything that came before it.  What’s that old Einsteinian saying…”as space contracts, time expands”.  Well, with the internet both time and space contract.  Anyone of us can send an email off to someone in China right now and have them reply in 10 seconds.  In this world, there is no time or space between us.  I feel so fortunate to have experienced the world before the word internet existed and now for quite sometime as it has changed everything.  Almost, although perhaps better than growing up before cars and then witnessing their proliferation.

Okay, Johnsen, you really went out there on me this time.  Whats the point?  The point is, as you read this, the internet is still changing the world in ways most of us mortals (except for the guys at MIT Labs, the NSA, the Lawrence Livermore National Lab or a few other places like it) can’t even begin to comprehend.  One thing is for sure: Communicating something from point A to point B (or points B through Z) faster, is going to be part of the game plan.  Humankind’s appetite for ever greater communication speed is insatiable.  So?  So reflecting on it, maybe, just maybe, these guys pushing a programmatic outdoor world are on to something.  Maybe marketers will want to move their messages to the right audience, and only that audience, with little to no lead time.  And maybe, they will want a constant feedback loop (think artificial intelligence) that will continuously and automatically adjust content and audience until ROI peaks.  Interesting and scary to think about at the same time, right?  Interesting because I think demand for outdoor advertising should explode.  Scary because how do we as vendors become anything more than a commodity?

Time to turn up the Zep.   https://youtu.be/qoqQnR8NOVI


Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC




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