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OOH Death by 1000 Cuts

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We have a new guest writer, whose name is well-known in the Out of Home business.
Like many who work for one of the Big 3 OOH Owners or Big 5 Agencies. They fear speaking out.
Their non de plume is T.S Tothewind.

Death by 1000 cuts

by T.S. Tothewind,

Hello Out of Home Industry.  I am a 20 year veteran of the outdoor advertising industry, working in various aspects of buying, selling, planning, and ad tech.  Very similar to my friend Bill Board’s background.
When Bill suggested I be a guest blogger, I decided if I did, I would only write it in various stages of inebriation.  This forum will be my outlet to discuss some of the things me and my friends (mostly industry and some non industry) talk about behind closed doors.  After a few bottles of wine…

Please note, this is all one bloggers (mine) opinion, and I will never use the forum to speak badly of specific companies or people. 

Let’s start with what I love about outdoor advertising.
It is a wonderful, unique industry filled with some of the nicest, smartest, and interesting people you could ever meet.   Most of us are lifers of OOH.  You either love it to death, and jump around to experience all the aspects of it, or you hate it, but can’t leave because you have no other marketable skills.

OOH is a catch-all for all new and unique ideas in the advertising field.  That’s what makes it so fun to work in. This industry is growing, there’s a lot of buzz around us, and new money and industries are finally starting to sit up and take notice. But unfortunately, that’s where the problem lies. 

There are so many new players, exchanges, platforms, and ways to buy and sell, that our industry is suffering death by 1000 cuts. 

There are so many new players, exchanges, platforms, and ways to buy and sell, that our industry is suffering death by 1000 cuts.  Death by 1000 cuts, meaning the ‘new elements’ (new players, new exchanges & platforms) individually and of themselves, don’t have a significant impact.  However, when they are lumped together, they cause things to fall apart.  Most have good intentions.  Some have enough understanding of OOH that their ‘not quite complete solutions’ may eventually, we hope, help OOH. Others are wasting precious time, resources and trust with tech and solutions which will never find success.  Therein lies challenges of: Who to believe?  Who has the right solution?   Who to collaborate with?  As OOH Today posted back in March of this year, collaboration is critical. 

Others are wasting precious time, resources and trust

In recent years, we’ve seen significantly more folks welcomed into the industry.  Silicon Valley is pushing hard.  If rumors are true, and Google is looking to push in, we all could be in trouble.  They can afford to charge nothing for years until we are all broke.  Just Ask Jeeves. Google’s data is their own, and not akin to anything we can get access to currently.  Oh yeah, they have some good engineers who can automate the whole process. 

We’ve had chances to take ownership of things in the past.  SMS and mobile ads jump out specifically.  That was ours for the taking, but we never got it together as an industry, and it got taken away to digital budgets. 

Now, some agency folks don’t care if it’s one bucket or the other, but I know the specialists and the sales reps care.  That’s a different offering than most OOH specialists are fluent in any longer, and digital buyers are circumventing their traditional OOH reps on the buys. We are losing commissions and revenues all around.   Let’s keep it part of our budgets before we lose another piece of the pie.  

let’s do this “Programmatic” thing right

I am a friendly drunk today, so I’d like to use this as a rallying call to the Outdoor Advertising community as a whole.  We have the opportunity to ride this disruption and come out stronger from it.  If you love this industry now is the time to put aside our differences, come to the table with ideas, new ways to work together, and let’s do this “Programmatic” thing right.  

Thank you.

T.S ‘Thirty’ Tothewind



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