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“I Don’t Want to Be Your Hero”

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Once a Week, but Never Weakly

by Nick Coston, OOH Media Buyer & Industry Agent

“I Don’t Want to Be Your Hero”

The actual lyrics go something like “let me go, I don’t wanna be your hero”.  It’s a nice, whimsical tune by a young group, Family of the Year. Probably not so young anymore as it was played in the film, Boyhood, in 2014. But it’s a nice song and if we ever all meet at an OAAA/GeoPath Convention again, I promise to sing it live. Really.

But back to billboards. Or OOH media. Or DOOH. Can we just decide on one name? Anywho, I applaud our industry for the way we pushed thru a never ending pandemic, grew business back in most areas, created new OOH products that weren’t around prior to 2019, and didn’t blow up any companies. Sure, some upgraded their names, changed leaders, pushed new tech. They also had some expected layoffs, but overall we endured.

Which leads me to the year 2022. You see 2021 was a catch up year, the year we took advantage of working remotely, traveling less, consolidating divisions, smaller company get togethers, if any, and “please dear God, no more Zoom meeting” days. Happy Hours began to return as more of us got vaxed, waxed and boosted. Market rides reappeared more frequently as did client lunches even if they were under heat lamps on the street. We endured and we are better, if not leaner for it.

But soon 2022 will come lumbering in. Who will the survivors be? Is there room for more than 5 big programmatic buying agencies; room for more than 10 plus truck side/back/wrapped/digital moving products; how many wrapped car companies will make it; taxi/ride share top companies, or even floating digital screens on rivers and beach’s. How many versions of each product do we need, how many can survive on ad sales only, once investor money runs low? Right now buying agencies barely have enough help to evaluate half these products as they are running lean and sticking mostly to bigger impression products, the start ups having to rely on brand direct relationships and highly discounted one- offs. How long do they last? Is Charles Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the Fittest” a theme for 2022?

I hope not, because there are a lot of very cool, smaller, creative start ups that need that one break. They aren’t the fittest, they don’t have the big funding, they don’t have seasoned sales staffs. But they deserve a serious look at because it’s the way our industry can grow. It’s a way we can grow that overall advertising share I talk about a week after week, it’s not gonna grow with the same products year to year. We’ve proven that.

So who is going to step up this year and be our hero? Who’s going to be that pioneering savant our industry so dearly needs? Someone or some company who comes along and drags us all screaming and kicking to the next level of a combination of higher tech, better visibility, more exact media buying products, not just the same ol’. I thought JC Decaux came close with their spectacular digital units in downtown Chicago, big, bold, bright and in your face as you drive by. We need more of that attitude regardless of how they wrangled these gonzo units on the best roads going in and out of a major city.

Is it a combination media sales/buying company who concocts all the new tools of programmatic, high visibility OOH products, be them Digital or Static, with all the new audience measurement and analytics available thru GeoPath, Street Metrics, Intermix, to name a few, and give the clients an all in one really measurable buy using a wide swath of products? Right, long sentence. But hear me out.

We have the talent, we have the money, we have the smarts to do just this. But who will be our hero in 2022 to pull this off? Who’s got the team with that one leader to rise up, put this all together and blow up our existing way of doing business?

Well, it’s not me, it’s just my idea, that’s all. I do get a little cut, right?  But she’s out there, and I do mean she. It will happen. Someone will command all we have at our disposal and give us that boost into warp speed.

message for Circle Graphics

Come on, prove me wrong.

The big agencies and the big outdoor companies keep us afloat, but they’re not gamblers, they don’t take chances. But someone new will, that special hybrid I keep taking about. It will happen and I hope I’m there to write about it, buy and or sell for it. Because like the song says “everyone deserves a chance to walk with everyone else.”

And we all deserve that.

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