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It’s Time for New OOH Rules —Part 3 — 16 Top OOH Leaders of Agencies and Providers Share Solutions

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It’s Time for New OOH Rules —Part 3

 

Strategies and tactics in the marketing and sales space
to accelerate OOH’s recovery

 

A combined total of 16 OOH Agencies and OOH Providers generously contributed their thoughts to two questions we submitted to them regarding strategies and tactics and marketing and sales to accelerate Outdoor’s recovery from the COVID Crisis.

There are many great insights and nuggets of wisdom shared on this page.  This is the longest story OOH Today has ever posted. The Out of Home professionals’ remarks, we hope, will be helpful in bringing your individual and the Industry’s success to a speedy recovery. There are common observations running through many of the comments. We are indebted for their time and contributions to the narrative.

Thank you to those 16 who contributed to this very important topic of disruption and acceleration.

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 Read what OOH professionals offered on the subject to the following questions.

I. What are your disrupting strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

II. What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s recovery?

 

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Chris Olsen– President, US Rapport

 

 

 

OOH is at its best when its nimble, relevant and enhancing a person’s experience or value. Never have consumer trends, habits and just general way of life been altered this quickly on a global scale. Brands have re-evaluated the current climate and pivoted their media spend for great efficiency and in many cases evolved their offerings. We have to do the same. If the OOH industry simply waits for a return to normalcy a full recovery may never happen, evolution is required and necessary.

With audience patterns and needs shifting, OOH has to provide value in the unlikeliest of states and some providers have worked to reinvent their current models. We’ve already seen companies like Captivate expand their footprint with content driven PPE (Temp check, mask, hand sanitizer) digital screen standees to supplement lowered elevator/lobby traffic. The speed is encouraging and the strategic value is huge.

Brands are very much acting as consumers during this time of uncertainty, which means they are watching every dollar. Accountability of spend becomes paramount and whether its CPA’s, CPC’s, App Downloads, Tune In, etc, we can measure it all to align with client needs and place guaranteed results on those metrics. It would take some work and potential flexibility in vendor partner offerings, but it would put us on par with other media channels that are more performance based and have reaped the benefits of a timid marketplace.

Evolved and nimble formats coupled with optimized guarantees are a welcomed and much needed disruption.

 

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Candice Simons– CEO, Brooklyn Outdoor

 

 

 

What are your disrupting strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

– Shifting the focus temporarily from looking at the overall number of impressions toward the
quality of the impressions going to be a huge disruption to what we typically see during such an
active time of the year. Nonetheless, it is a tactic we will certainly continuing to be
recommending, as it is what is going to produce tangible results to our clients.

As the stay at home orders lift across the nation, data shows people are still leaving their homes.
Although people are not traveling as far as they typically would have in the past, they are leaving
their homes with a purpose. More often than not, this purpose is to make a purchase or are in
the right frame of mind to buy! The big buzz word right now is hyper-local, but that’s because it
works! If we concentrate on being really intentional with our ad placement, then we are able to
reach consumers at the time of purchase.

– Also, when digital first entered the OOH mix it was seen as another challenge to adapt to. Now,
it is one of our greatest tools. With the highly emotional political climate and the state of the
pandemic, clients want fool proof campaigns. By providing clients with digital formats they are
able to change campaign messaging in a matter of days, hours, or sometimes even minutes. This
is a great way to remove the risk of sending something to print, then presenting a tone-deaf
campaign.

What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s
recovery?

– In the marketing and sales space, I would recommend reminding clients about the strengths of
OOH and take it back to the basics. There is a reason why we are the longest standing
advertising format — because again, it works. Throughout the pandemic, OOH was essential for a
reason. Our ability to reach the masses with one single posting is truly remarkable. For example,
we can look to the actions taken by the CDC to launch PSA campaigns during Covid-19.

Also, right now is the time to not only use your marketing for sales, but to use it as a resource of
information. Our clients may not be looking toward OOH for the fear of the unknown. However,
if we can show them that contrary to their belief, data shows traffic patterns increasing then we
can inform their decision making. We are much more of a resource at this time for our clients
than usual and we should be taking advantage of that to make the information easily accessible.
The easier we make it to buy as a whole – the more they will by.

 

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John F. LaramieCEO, Project X

 

 

Obviously, the last few months have been incredibly challenging for our industry. The shutdown of major cities has impacted the national value story of our medium. In local markets, we’ve seen some stabilization but COVID’s impact on small businesses is deep and not fully yet recognized. As cities begin to reopen, we will see some opportunities but all brands and their budgets are under immense pressure and marketers have to justify every dollar spent. 

In terms of what can we do as an industry to make progress and bring advertisers back to this space, it’s pretty obvious: The industry needs to collectively come together right now and our data story needs to be unified and accurate, because we have to sell together and make it easier for marketers to see how they can tell their story effectively across the entire industry. 

 

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Kristy Schlepp- CEO, ODN

 

 

 

What are your disrupting strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

ODN has developed a game changing OOH IT Platform that eliminates spreadsheets and makes plans easier to understand and submit to advertisers. We are eliminating the pain points that slows down the understanding and approval. This includes interactive maps with the ability to drop to the street level, e-sign contracts, and more.

What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s recovery?

We are more focused on disruption with our IT platform versus old traditional ways to pitch OOH plans. We expect to see record numbers in 2021 with more and more advertisers signing up for our IT solution. We have also built out our point of purchase division to provide more options to buy from ODN as well as making sure we have relationship within all buying teams within our agency partners and direct brands. With our IT solution our clients can buy their OOH and POP items from the same spot making us a true one stop shop.

 

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Nick CostonMedia Buyer

 

 

 

What are your disrupting strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

—Lower negotiated rates another 25% good thru end of 2020. Across the board for new contracts. 

—Sell all that non traditional OOH, programmatic smaller digital screen formats, gas pump static and screens, grocery store screens etc…in bundles of 50% off until sold out. Fill distressed space with new advertisers, and don’t look back. Get your high CPM’s down to $1.50 or lower. 

What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s recovery?

—Stimulate business thru larger than ever incentives. It’s now or never. 

 

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Rainbow KirbyMarketing Guru, Communications Specialist. Former Director, Corporate Communications & Marketing Clear Channel Outdoor

 

 

The outdoor industry has done a great job at staying relevant the past few months through PSA and public health campaigns, and supporting local businesses by sharing simple, directional signage –“We’re Open for Delivery.” As restrictions begin to lift, marketers need to be ready to go with campaigns that can be launched quickly and efficiently once they get the green light. Focusing on the creative, I have a few suggestions:

Make an Emotional Connection

This shared experience of isolation and the unknown has connected us and contextual messaging will hit its mark with the masses. We miss people. We miss socialization. We miss fun. A simple “We’re Baaaack” campaign from a company is informative, but boring. Bring the emotion, and inject humor into the imagery and copy. As creatives and media planners move forward, they need to employ OOH for its key strengths – visibility, broad reach and share-ability.

As a marketer, one of the most entertaining discoveries I’ve made during lockdown has been the feel-good power of the TikTok app. Once predominantly used by Gen Z, its audience has grown and the 40+ crowd has gotten in on the action. When you see people of all ages, races, geographic locations dancing to choreographed beats, you are compelled to get off your butt. The short, user-generated clips (8-15 seconds) make for the ideal feel-good content piece, and you’re on to the next before even the most attention-challenged individual could possibly lose interest. Trust me, check it out and scroll for 15-20 minutes, I’ve converted many who shrugged initially. While these clips can’t be used for roadside, I see them being shared in pedestrian plazas, airports and other place-based media.

Amplify the Most Resonant Messaging

We’ve been glued to our screens since March – waking up to a laptop, binging Netflix and scrolling our mobiles as we drift off to sleep (my own mobile screen time is averaging an impressive 7 hrs. daily). But there is an overabundance of digital messaging and opinions…and false facts. Following Twitter’s example, marketers should be digging into the most shared, relevant engaging posts and turning them into bold outdoor creative. The data is there, use it and make it more visible – on a much larger screen that will give consumers pause as they begin their daily outdoor journeys again.

Host OUTDOOR Summits in Fall 2020/Spring 2021

People miss “seeing” people, and although we all wish we had invested in Zoom a year ago, video conferencing has reached its fatigue level. With proper precautions, required face masks and physical distancing, outdoor mixers can be held on rooftops, on terraces, in backyards. People need people. Do not wait till 2022 to host an outdoor summit. The close-knit, “I’ve known so and so for years” is the special glue in the out-of-home industry.

 

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Brian RappaportCEO, Quan

 

 

 

What are your disrupting strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

—In terms of disrupting strategies to help accelerate OOH’s recovery, I immediately think of certain companies on the sales side working together to create smart, strategic, hyper-local opportunities for clients that make sense.  Imagine if JCD/CURB/Intersection/Outfront worked together to find ways to blanket cities like NYC and CHI where they’re all present and especially on their digital inventory – find a way to sync up creative messaging so brands create an “ownership-type feel” on the streets?  It shouldn’t be competition for $$$ anymore – it should be “one team/one dream, let’s get spend back in the channel trending upwards.”

 

What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s recovery?

—I also think OOH needs to step outside the “comfort zone” of the channel definition.  As events with crowds slowly come back – sponsorship opportunities, partnerships with entertainment companies, media companies should all be looked at.  Founders Entertainment (those behind Gov Ball Music Festival) have an opportunity for brands to fully integrate with the live music content they’ll be sharing all summer in partnership with the World Famous Surf Lodge out in Montauk.  Brands can not only sponsor the A-List talent that will be virtually performing (i.e. Rufus Du Sol during MDW) – but can incorporate product into gift bags that go to influencers etc.  Work with some of the incredible experiential partners in the OOH space to create “moments” and new opportunities for brands to connect 1:1 with consumers.  I read an idea about a branded custom mask making truck that could travel to different markets – and there are drive-in movie series at iconic venues in select markets with full on branding/naming rights opportunities.  Think different for your client – and for the channel.

 

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Anonymous -OOH Agency Veteran of 15 years

 

 

We need to do an honest assessment of our strengths and weaknesses, not continue to act like OOH is the greatest, most cutting-edge, impactful advertising platform. We need to improve upon our weaknesses and champion our strengths. I have yet to see the industry promote a solid value-proposition for us to rally behind.

We also need to take a hard look at the talent that is marketing the channel. Are these the right people to convince new advertisers to invest?

 

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Jack SullivanOOH Media Advisor, former Media Director for Starcom, Consultant for the Industry

 

 

What are your disrupting strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

– Open market selling and buying on all digital signs for at least 50% of the time (4 of 8 flips, 3 of 6 flips).  No more 4 week, 24/7 sales (unless wanted that way)  Charge more for drive times and less for off peak time thus opening the door to advertisers who can’t afford 4 wks, 24/7. 

– 2 wk buys for static signs

–  The industry needs a buying arm (independent) to go after small to medium size business.  Industry needs to pay the buying arm  20% commission as they are playing the role of both a promoter of OOH and as an ancillary sales arm.

 

What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s recovery?

– Need a committee of media operators and other key facilitators to visit and sell the medium to advertisers … get them to consider OOH more often in their plans

– Sell more OOH direct to clients

– The industry has to call out the reputable and non reputable SSP and DSP’s.  There are too many folks gaming the industry and giving it a bad name.    

– All new local businesses get free OOH advertising for one month (determined space and time between owner and operator)  … encourage/support the success of small businesses and they repay in kind down the road.  If they don’t, then it’s still good PR that other small businesses see what the medium is doing.  

– Need community content on dead space … support your local communities. 

– R&D on new off expressway sign sizes.  We need a do-over on the standard poster size.  Select the best 20% of the old poster inventory and reconfigure to a more agreeable and attractive look.  

 

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Jeff Joaquin– President & Co-Founder, Marquee Media 

 

 

 

This is a very tough situation, where a speedy recovery may not be possible, for reasons outside of our control.

What are your disrupting strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

  • Allow for true daypart buying…shorter duration digital buys…yes its harder to execute now and means more sales effort…so what!
  • RSS feeds/timely delivery of creative messages ( breaking news/flash sales/interest rates)
  • We all need to understand what a brand/client’s needs/issues are, so we can creatively help solve the need/issue…Blah Blah…
  • Audience selling with CPMs vs other media. OOH use to work well with younger Mobile audiences…what does the data show now?
  • Real traffic data for OOH, TV, Radio…what does it actually say?
  • Guarantee weekly impression numbers and it they fall short deliver a make good!
  • Everyone is offering COVID -19 short term cancellation policies…is this helping? Doesn’t seem to help yet.
  • Everything is on the table.  A mind is like a parachute…it has to open to work!

What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s recovery?

Marketing:

  • Someone needs to direct a harder hitting industry marketing program and realize that this may be a 2 year + national recovery process.
  • Assuming the industry will move on this too slowly, we are willing to target key decision makers/Brand Managers/CMOs in their daily travels with an aggressive digital OOH Shock & Awe Attack Plan.
  • For example, we might run multiple spots targeting car dealers with a fictitious new car launch, then follow up with the owners of the dealerships to see if they know about the new car and if there dealership will carry it.
  • Alternatively, we could create fun Digital OOH messages about a dealership using the dealerships owner, GM and SM…then deliver a mini billboard to their office. Next step is setting a meeting.
  • The God billboards from 15 years ago created a lot of news stories…maybe the should come back in a more timely way with new and fun messaging.

In all of these cases more strategic though needs to go into the creative/messaging and plan of attack. Note we will be launching a Dayparting opportunity and a Domination opportunity where we may legally change the timing of our spot programming to 4 seconds each, so legally the messaging may add more fresh interest. This works better in high dwell time spots.

 

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Glyn S. WilliamsPresident, Mahlmann Media, Inc

 

 

 

I think the word Disrupt has been a bit overplayed to be honest, and the better word to use is Evolve. There is no reason to think we have to toss aside what’s fueled the tremendous growth we’ve seen the last 4-5 years. Rather, we have to stay true to all our strengths but dig deeper and be smarter about certain aspects of our business. I think specifically of two other D words – Data and Diversification.

Data will lead our path forward without question. Most other media channels have blown past audience measurement and are now focused on attribution and effectiveness, which is where we need to be as well. Some in the industry are doing this well but it needs to be on everyone’s agenda and more universally embraced. One thing we experienced immediately from some of our clients during the shutdowns was a desire to understand the real time affects to their impressions. They didn’t want conjecture or hypotheticals or predictions. They wanted hard numbers and I don’t blame them. Geopath responded fairly well to provide us with some of the data we needed, but it exposed our Achilles heel to give us a glimpse of where to tighten things up if we hope to use data to our advantage going forward. We have to let that door swing both ways and showcase to clients data can be our strength, not just our weakness.

The second D word is diversification, as in diversifying our client base and transaction points. The top OOH spenders have been mostly the same for the last 5-7 years but broadly speaking we haven’t converted enough nonbelievers either in terms of clients or categories. Much of that is about data but it’s also about accessibility. The OOH process is still pretty clunky, weighted down, and slow moving. A lot of advertisers are intimidated by OOH. As an industry we have typically shown a cold shoulder to new media tech companies or thought leaders who run platform based systems or found new ways of doing things. These new voices can – and will – accelerate some of this growth. We have to open our doors to discussing better ways of doing things that would make things easier for novice advertisers to activate. Finally, I think we should embrace a diversification of our transaction points. Some my friends and colleagues who work in Digital OOH have told me their biggest contracts this year have come from digital agencies NOT OOH agencies… and they were for clients that never bought their product in the past. Think about that. They haven’t changed their product really just opened their transaction points and have found new revenues. That’s a win. On the media operator side I’m saying “I gotta get me some that.” I have to evolve my company to cater to those opportunities. But if I were still at an OOH agency I’d be terrified of what lurks beneath the surface.

 

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Gino Sesto– Founder, Dash Two 

 

 

 

Outdoor has always been archaic in so many ways. Sorry guys.  The buying process is slow and tedious and needs to speed up.  Avails and pricing being sent by excel spreadsheets is absurd.  We need to fix this.

TV for 20 years has had the ability to price avails through multiple platforms.  Digital has so many solutions. 

Outdoor is old and tedious.  And white.

 

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Regis Maher President/Founder, do it outdoors

 

 

 

What are your disrupting marketing strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

“It’s Time For New Rules”.  We’re doing our part at Do It Outdoors by breaking boundaries and putting our money where our mouth is by guaranteeing better engagement and CTRs than digital alone. We’re guaranteeing a better than 300% increase over industry benchmarks.  We’re also being as flexible as our clients need us to be with postponements and cancellations.  We all need to think and act in new directions to gain what we as an industry deserve.  We’ll continue to help lead the way with new ideas and strategies!

 

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James HellerCEO, Co-founder, Wrapify

 

 

 

What are your disrupting marketing strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

One of the great aspects of this period of time is the abrupt shove into digital transformation many industries needed to head in the right direction.  OOH is no exception. The narrative hasn’t changed at Wrapify.  We have been focused on leading with data and audience based selling since inception in 2016.  It is great to see the industry begin to follow suit.  Leaning in to Attribution, and selling audience instead of a real estate-based location sell is a big part of unlocking more budget.

OOH triggering digital is also something the rest of the industry should invest time, effort and energy into understanding and positioning.  An OOH exposed audience is already warmed up and makes digital convert higher.  This has been proven years ago and I don’t think the industry takes it seriously enough. 

We also need to make OOH easier to buy.  I see a future in programmatic and if we can all get on the same page instead of jockeying for our own piece,  I can see OOH going from sub $10Bn to north of $25Bn in short order.

TL;DR version:

  • Use data to identify the right formats and placements for client objective
  • Make it easier to measure and optimize in-flight
  • Leverage multi-channel retargeting triggered by OOH exposure

What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s recovery?

Continue to double down on data.  The work the OAAA Innovations Committee and several OOH technology providers are doing today will set the industry up for a strong 2021 amid CV-19.  Also, we need to make OOH as easy to purchase and measure as possible.  Not just for the OOH specialty buying shops, but for the brands themselves.

 

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Adam Malone- Co-founder, Screenverse

 

 

 

This time has given each of us time to look critically at our lives, our jobs, and our businesses.  Most of us have been forced to make tough decisions; scale back our teams and reprioritize our costs and investments line-by-line.  This is not fun, but discipline and sacrifice ultimately make our businesses and the industry collectively more focused, agile, and profitable.  

Top line growth is important, but so is the bottom line.  My recommendations try to consider both equally.

Advice for marketers and sellers:

Pay very close attention to two things; changes in audience behavior and changes in advertiser demand.  Prepare your business to move quickly to cut bait on losing tactics and triple down on the things that are “working”.

If audiences prove they are indeed weary of congregating in large groups, go ahead and ice your sports media and trade show businesses.  If regional car travel is where it’s at, then figure out all of the fun, safe, attractions within 100 miles of your media market and hire back two sellers to hit the phones.  

We are betting that brands and agencies will disproportionally prefer to buy DOOH through the programmatic channels until there is clarity, if not certainty, around a resurgence of COVID and the prospects of a cure.  Programmatic is more fluid and flexible and is able to find audiences where they are (and only charge advertisers on impressions delivered) and campaigns can be shifted or terminated with a few clicks.  

We could be wrong, and we will be watching closely to see whether the OOH specialists heat up first, the digital agencies, or brands direct (early indications are strong here), and shift our strategies and tactics accordingly.

It will not serve any of us well to guess or hope, it will serve us well to fast-follow what the data show.  

My hope is that we do “get back” to pre-COVID revenue figures, but I hope we do so more lean, focused, and profitable when we do. 

 

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Bob Wolfe– Owner, Outselling, Inc

 

 

 

What are your disrupting marketing strategies and tactics to Outdoor Advertising’s speedy recovery?

Speedy recovery is very subjective.  Meaning, will we get back to numbers pre-covid…yes…someday.  The problem is we still don’t really know what those numbers were.  Don’t get me wrong…OOH was in the ‘hey day’ for sure.  Everyone was saying that they were enjoying tremendous growth but I still question was it growth from a same store sales mentality or a growth of just putting up more digitals thus having more inventory which meant growth in revenue. I think that this “cleanse” that we are experiencing right now, is one where we are going to “pause” on building new and focusing on the now. 

 

What specific actions would you propose in the marketing and sales space to accelerate OOH’s recovery?

From that perspective, we as an industry have an opportunity to re-think the way we market this product and “more importantly” what we perceive as our strengths and value proposition. 

Consider this…Example…pre-covid, we were all about impressions.  We boasted that we had all of this data that could tell advertisers exactly who went by our signs and everything about them…Age, Race, HHI, if they were going to buy a car in the next 6 months, etc.  But then, during the height of the pandemic, when all of our customers were telling us they were going to need to pause (luckily few cases) or when they were going to leave the medium because traffic was down, we abandoned our tactics of impressions and said we did not have the data to try to prove that our signs were still delivering impressions.  In other words, what we sold in the beginning, we couldn’t back up to defend our cause when it mattered most. 

In my opinion, we need to add more tools to our value proposition instead of just talking about impressions.  We need to go back to the basics of Why OOH; Really think about why someone would want to advertise out of their house.  We have some great data points about society -how they live, what they do, where they go and the need to get out.  This is what is going to move advertisers on OOH.  We still are a mass medium, no other media really is.  We are more relevant now as people are coming out from being sheltered in and this is the time where we have to help advertisers realize this.  Yes—talk about the impressions as that is a buzz word, but we need to also be talking about the philosophical points as well.  Life is about getting out.  If people aren’t realizing that now, they never will.

 

 

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4 Comments
  1. Richard Malton says

    Anyone thinking that Gino let himself and his company down?
    His “enlightened” commentary is not the industry I recognise, unless it’s vastly different across the pond than OOH in Europe.
    Or maybe he just woke up grumpy?

  2. Gino Sesto says

    Oh the iron of my comment.

  3. Gino Sesto says

    Oh the irony of my comment!

  4. Gino Sesto says

    Richard Malton what are you talking about, the white comment? LOOK AT THIS PAGE!!!!
    The archaic portion? While I agree there are some disruptors. The big 3 still send out proposals by way of an excel document. Where was i wrong?