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“Eat Less Cake, Walk More”

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Once a week, but never, ever, not even close, weakly


by Nick Coston, OOH Media Buyer & Industry Agent



“Eat Less Cake, Walk More”

New Years Resolutions. Why do we even bother? All we do is slow down the inevitable. We diet for 2 days, leave the toilet seat down for 3 days, drink more filtered water for 4 days. Then schools close down again due to the 35th new Covid strain, this one called “Hell’s-On-Fire”, and we are back in our jammies.

Resolutions this year come with asterisks, footnotes, caveats and “in case of emergency, break glass” warnings. We will be walking on eggshells until we get past Memorial Day or the next actual, in person, you get to hug Rick Robinson, do shots with guys from Vector Media, give Pete’s Mom a noogie all while 5 of us puff on cigars at 11:00pm, the newly named “OAAA/GeoPath/Volta Charging/Lamar/Outfront It’s Really Happening This Year OOH Convention”. Once we clear that hurdle, and title, we should be free to move around the cabin.

I think we will get there this time.

Convention naming rights aside, I’m thinking there are at least 5 major tasks our industry needs to tackle in 2022. You can call them resolutions, goals, ideas or just Nick’s constant barking because you’ve heard me harping on these during the last year.

  1. We must push to increase OOH spend higher than the current 4-6% of total ad budgets we’ve been stuck at for a few years now. This would be the year to pull out all the stops, be aggressive on all rates, especially digital and programmatic; continue to add more digital units to transit, pay your sales people a more aggressive rate so that they stay longer and build up their book of business and have time to convert non-OOH advertisers. OOH companies need to stop changing commission policies mid-year just because some successful salespeople blow out their budgets. You don’t see a lot of medical and non-advertising sales reps moving out of their industries as much as you do in OOH because they don’t mess with their income, they keep pushing their training programs, they give them more independence, more expense dollars, and don’t follow the old advertising sales model of turning and churning your sales people. Instead of having 5 top earning sales folks and then the other 4 to 5 continue to rotate in and out like radio stations do, keep a higher earning, professional staff, where they themselves can have big increases each year and help get us over that 5% hump we keep stalling on. Stop dinging them for being successful. Stop being that hump.

2. Start selling programmatic digital and non-digital programmatic space in the same budget. There’s no reason why our industry can’t figure out a way to sell programmatic media for all our products, not just digital. It won’t be perfect at first but someone’s got to take a chance and push these great resources to the next level again so we can add to the bottom line of our advertising market share. Think of the press.

3. Agencies along with clients who have in-house art, must make sure their OOH copy is big, legible and not blocked. I guarantee you if you got in a car with me in a major market and we rode for six hours that at least 50% of the billboard copy you would complain about not being able to see the actual ad, or not know what they are selling. That crushes our industry because all it takes is for one large budget marketing person to see a bad billboard and they think they’re all bad and we get put at the bottom of the buy list. More agencies and clients should rely on some of the in-house artists that OOH companies employ, they are award-winning graphic folks and most of the time they won’t charge you. We have no one to blame but ourselves for crappy copy when this is available to everyone who buys a board.

4. Advertisers need to stop worrying about “line of sight” issues with competitors. Average drivers and passengers don’t give a monkeys ass if they see insurance company copy next to personal injury lawyer
copy, or cannabis store copy next to church copy, it doesn’t matter and it certainly doesn’t hurt either advertiser. That’s a complete fallacy. We need to stop dumbing down our ad placement because what it’s doing is costing valuable space from being sold to companies that want to buy it, instead they’ll cut back on that budget, you’ll make less and have to fill that space with Ad Council if even that’s allowed. We as an industry need to stop being scared to make money because one advertiser is offended by another category. Just look at some of the contracts that are coming through in the last two years and the restrictions they are putting on copy placement and it’s no wonder our industry makes any profit at all. There’s absolutely no reason for this. It doesn’t keep you from selling your product. I’m happy to repeat that at least 10 times if you’d like. TV and radio when they are seasonally or politically busy don’t play this game, I don’t know why the OOH industry has to play it. It mostly hurts the OOH industries bread & butter money/makers, all those static boards around the country. This is where groups like OAAA and IBOUSA can butt in and assist with policymaking if indeed, they have a chance to help their members increase their sales by instituting some sort of industry placement protocols that are pro-business.

And finally, the resolution you’ve been waiting for, the last one, number 5, and that is the OOH industry really needs some new blood. Not necessarily younger not necessarily more educated, but different. What was refreshing about the last few OOH related events that we were able to attend in person brought us was new faces, new products, new tech. Year to year for a long time you really only saw the same people, mostly same companies at all these events, but this year due to circumstances out of our control, people were let go, retired, sold out or plain ol’ died.  Refreshing was seeing new faces at the DPAA Annual Event, and the Ad Club of NYC OOH event. That’s good for our industry and regardless of where they come from we need to continue to inject new blood if we want to grow.

So as we tackle the year 2022, terrifyingly starting with over 567,000 new Covid cases here in the U.S. on Monday of this week alone, gas prices still a tad higher, food more expensive, let’s not allow that to get in our way of doing business. Take the good with the bad, get vaccinated, eat less cake, walk more. You may lose that dreaded “Covid 15” and meet more of your neighbors. And not die.

Most importantly, take note of the way I sign off on most of my emails and texts. There’s a good reason for it. 

“Stay close.”

It really does work.

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