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Momentum for Embracing Sustainability in OOH

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In Different Shapes and Sizes,
Momentum Builds for Embracing Sustainable Practices in Out of Home

by Dylan Mabin, President at Geopath

Sustainability is a growing priority for so many companies across a wide range of industries. From the smallest startups to the largest corporations, the link between business success, the ability to recruit talent, and the adoption of sustainable practices that emphasize conservation and environmental awareness have become obvious.

The push for sustainability is certainly evident across the Out of Home industries. Media owners and agencies are constantly looking to enhance their sustainability track records by reusing materials, opting for more efficient sources of energy, offsetting carbon outputs, and adopting automated technologies to enhance operations and business processes.

Many are motivated to adopt new environmentally conscious approaches to doing business because they know it’s the right thing to do. At the same time, as brands respond to pressure from their consumers, they are, in turn, demanding greater action and accountability from the service providers with whom they work. Recent studies found that 60% of consumers want the brands they patronize to support social and environmental issues while, according to Forbes, 88% of the public want brands to improve their sustainability initiatives. Agencies and media owners know they must enhance their efforts to remain competitive or avoid exclusion from potential future partnerships and campaign opportunities.

OOH companies across the spectrum have been pursuing ways to creatively reduce impact and footprint. From a resources and materials standpoint, billboard owners have converted used vinyl into tote bags, personal protective equipment for hospital workers, or tarps for temporary roofing, to name a few examples. Many media owners have incorporated solar technology and green power sources to illuminate static billboard advertisements.

Technology innovation continues to make its way into the displays themselves. In their hand-painted wall displays, Colossal Media is now using paints that absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. In 2022, Rapport began using a titanium dioxide coating that cleans the air of pollution, offsetting 25 million miles of driving.

To alleviate impact and reduce energy consumed by digital signs, digital OOH companies are turning to solar power and renewable energy to offset consumption. In one example, The LED studio and VOD Visual are using Aegis Pro, a solar-powered display with a special emphasis on DOOH applications. Companies like Vector Media are using Kindle-like screen surfaces which are low power in nature, as compared to traditional digital screens.

Sustainability efforts have not just been relegated to materials and manufacturing processes. OOH companies are, with increased frequency, reviewing their general business practices in pursuit of more sustainable practices, particularly as it relates to the supply chain. For example, leading LED technology company, Daktronics, is increasing the number of products built in the U.S. to reduce reliance on the emission-heavy international shipping industry.

As a demonstration of the seriousness with which OOH’s leading companies are taking to enhance sustainability, several agencies and media providers have created dedicated sections of their websites and roles within their organizations, not unlike what has taken place in human resource departments with the creation of diversity positions. Lamar, OUTFRONT, and Clear Channel all have employees dedicated to enhancing the sustainability of their respective organizations. As brands increase their due diligence of the agencies and partners they choose to work with and require proof and certification, expect more companies to create similar positions and initiatives for implementing, tracking, measuring and, perhaps most importantly, showcasing their company’s commitment.

Finally, as the OOH industry continues to undergo a digital transformation marked by significant increases in data collection and analysis to understand population movements, industry leaders are working to optimize computing processes to manage and process immense amounts of data using minimal resources. This includes using carbon-neutral cloud providers, leveraging automation, and examining where within the business reductions in consumption can be made to offset data management-related increases.

Across the spectrum, both within OOH and in the wider business world, companies have their individual takes on what it means to be environmentally conscious and are pursuing different standards and best practices. After all, there are many ways to think about and consider sustainability. As business success becomes increasingly linked to good corporate environmental stewardship, OOH continues to take its responsibility seriously in unique forms and innovative approaches.

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