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OOH Ad Spending is Making a Considerable ‘Comeback’ – Sometimes the Truth

SMI Says

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Always the Truth

by Brent Baer, Publisher, OOH Today

OOH spending is making a considerable comeback according to SMI Data. But wait, I don’t know about you, based on all the feel good press lately and ‘I love OOH’ dreamers/social influencers, it was already back and had come to make us all believe that 2022 was a great year.  No check that, they said, ‘A GREAT YEAR!’  Defining great as exceeding 2019 dollars. Exceeding by wide margins. According to SMI, that’s just not the case.

Here’s SMI in the cold, hard, raw: Cover your ears kids! No spinning here. In 2022, U.S. ad spending for OOH was 92% of what it was in 2019.  That is according to the latest numbers from Standard Media Index (SMI), which captures actual agency invoicing data (from all major holding companies and most major independents) representing about 95% of national brand ad spend. Of note, billboards represented half (50%) of OOH ad spending, with transit representing 6%. And while 6% might seem small, transit ad spending volume has made considerable headway given pandemic-related circumstances. Compared to 2019, transit ad spend volume increased by ~6% in 2022.

How can this be SMI Data?  Is SMI not drinking the Kool aide?

According to a recent note shared with me from SMI, OOH ad spending hasn’t been the same since the COVID-19 pandemic – but it’s making a comeback. In 2022, U.S. ad spending for OOH was 92% of what it was in 2019. A comeback.

Look, there is nothing wrong with or to be embarrassed about, being 8% lower that 3 years ago. It was a damn worldwide pandemic after all. When I think about all the past conversations and stories from many ‘leaders’ writing me attempting to convince the world and OOH Today’s narrative, that traffic did not drop off.  I did not buy it then. No significant drop in driving or cars on the road.  Yeah! Right. After about 8 months, most everyone gave up with that narrative in exchange for reality. What choice did we have? We were in deep water in OOH as everyone was being ordered to stay in home.  Staying home does not bode well for OOH.

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How about some honesty in OOH? The hyped and misleading reporting how OOH is back and with line item percentage increases only a CPA might understand, is not believable.  It’s just not believable. Try the truth. Stop the unbelievable hype of the numbers games.

Truth is everything.
You want agency buyers and client marketers to, ‘buy from us’?  ‘Buy our media.’ ‘Buy our measurements’. ‘Buy our proof of performance’. ‘Buy our programmatic and automated software’. ‘Buy our accreditation’. ‘Buy our honesty’. Trust us. Buy us. Stop the hype.

Try full transparency . The MORE BELIEVEABLE we are, the more success we will realize.

Fellas, let’s walk the walk and tone down talking the talk, paraphrasing one of my favorite Cowboys. As my old boss used to say, “Just sell something”.

And there it is.
There are way too many ‘leaders’ who have never sold a billboard in their entire lives. They really don’t have a clue how to sell and for sure, do not have the patience to sell, nor even mange investors expectations with sales revenues.  Those ‘leaders’ are always looking for the magic wand and the holy grail.  You know who they are and sadly, they know too. This also gives pause to say, if your sales gurus have not sold OOH, they will teach you little in the way of success OOH sales. I have literally taken dozens of Sales seminars and the clear cut winners were taught by people who sold and worked in OOH as a career. Don’t waste  your time with any others. Not a penny. Not a minute.

When it comes to selling, look it’s simple, lose the excuses and just sell. Lose the excuses of:  ‘If only we had lower rates’. “If I only had better reporting’. ‘If we only had better measurement’. ‘If only we had better accreditation.’ ‘If only everyone bought into programmatic (anyone want to explain to me how programmatic has been around for at least the last 6+ years and we are not sold out or crushing revenues?). Yeah, I didn’t think so. Take a lap rookie!

Those hyped up reports, shading the truth about OOH’s comeback kid story, they’re misleading. That isn’t honest. Don’t be that hype gal and guy who can not be believed.  Let’s be clear to investor types and managers who never sold a billboard in their entire lives (oh and at the same time they are declared (often via self bio) the smartest guys in the Industry); the best sales people don’t lie. The best marketers don’t mislead.

Market, Yes! Sell, Yes!  Always the Truth!  Congrats on the comeback!  Now go sell something.

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