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Does Lamar Gain ‘Favored Nation’ Status with $30M Vistar Investment? —OOH Independents Are Asking


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Does Lamar Gain ‘Favored Nation’ Status
with $30M Vistar Investment?

OOH Independent Operators Are Asking 


Many independent operators have contacted OOH Today with concerns over Vistar’s recent announcement as the beneficiary of the funding investment by Lamar Advertising Company.
See the announcement we shared earlier this week here⇒
Lamar Invests $30M in Vistar Media.

The primary comments summarized by Independent Operators revolved around the question:
Does Lamar gain ‘favored nation’ status now that Vistar has accepted the 30 Million Dollar investment?

Our response:
What would you do for a newly vested equity stake holder bringing thirty million fat ones to your company right now while trying to recover from the Pandemic? 

Firewalls no doubt will be discussed and assurances given to the safety of proprietary data, such as rates, locations, etc. of ‘other Independent Operators’. Is that enough? 

The dollars, influential as they undeniably exist, are one thing. Let’s not overlook what is the most significant advantage Lamar gains in this newly positioned 8 year partnership with Vistar, which is the access Lamar has now acquired with a seat on Vistar’s Board of Directors. A seat on the Board, without question, can be far-reaching.

A seat on the Board, without question, can be far-reaching.

How far of a reach? To that point, we pose the simple question;
In the next Board of Director’s meeting, will the Vistar VP of Sales’ deck/book reporting on the last quarter’s results and projections on the coming quarter’s pipeline, be withheld from the Lamar Director?

Or will the meeting go something like this: “Now we’ll move to the sales and revenues presentation segment of the meeting. Will the Lamar Director please excuse herself while we discuss?” Who believes that will happen? 

How much access does $30M Lamar receive into Vistar’s business operations with this investment?
Does it raise important questions about the fairness and transparency for the many ‘other OOH Providers’ who are currently partners with Vistar? 


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We asked one of the Out of Home Industry’s most experienced and capable independent operators,
Jeff Joaquin of Marquee Media for his thoughts.

Joaquin’s comments are enumerated below. 

As a principle in a locally owned OOH company with assets in LA, Sacramento and assets with NBA Teams and MLS Teams, I would be concerned where there are markets and assets that overlap with Lamar. We are just starting to work with Vistar and their programmatic system.

Areas of concern would be:

  • Would Lamar be able to access all of our data, rates and CPMs?
  • Could/would Lamar be able to position their inventory in a better CPM/Pricing light to win more programmatic business?
  • This would and should raise serious questions with clients, should the system be gamed in favor of one company over other companies?
  • Would there be a firewall of protection preventing this type of activity?

To date, Lamar is not a direct competitor to Marquee Media; however, as an independent operator with less scale than the BIG OOH Companies, we see many leveraged campaigns bought utilizing the difference in quantity of locations. Typically such Campaigns, which are leveraged in negotiation could make sense on a large national scale, but fail at delivering the quality that would be achieved by using more than one OOH Partner to maximize efficiencies and delivery in a buy. This would include using the best local independent outdoor companies that offer something different and special to the media mix.

We believe in Programmatic and think it is a key part of the future OOH landscape. Let’s also never forget that quality and people actually seeing OOH in its natural habitat matters to brands and their CMOs. If they don’t see their brand in the outdoor landscape…they might just tune out and believe the online platforms are the new paradigm. I think we are better than that as an industry and should focus more attention on what CMOs, Brand Managers and CROs NEED to help create and drive relevancy and revenue for their brands.

Contrary to popular opinion, I think the BIG OOH Companies do a fantastic job of leveraging their scale and assets to win the largest share of all OOH media buys. I was on that side of the table for 28 years and firmly believed that if we had a 40% share of the market, we should at a minimum earn that percent, or more.

Lamar made a brilliant move in investing in Vistar and I applaud them for doing it. Bravo! Very forward thinking! You could in some ways equate this; to when Sony patented the Blu-Ray player technology and owned the market…they generated huge amounts of revenue from licensing the technology to every company selling Blu-Ray Players. Brilliant move…sound familiar?

My biggest concern and hope is that there are proper checks and balances to insure the system is fair for everyone. In the end, it actually may not matter, as there is currently full transparency in auto pricing and many other products. If competitors choose to adjust pricing based on audience delivery, geographic location, exclusivity, impact, value, timing, attribution, or any other reason…it’s still a free market and the consumer/client hopefully wins in the end. 


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  1. Independent Observer says

    How is this any different from Intersection owning Place Exchange?

  2. The answer is in the question. With regards to the ability to view competitive OOH Providers, obviously it is not. That has always been the rub on these platforms who ‘provide more than just the mechanism’.
    Good question. what was your thought on your question?

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