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The Harsh Reality of Why Your OOH Plant is Failing Miserably

The Shelter Build Outside the Can Is Part of It

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The Harsh Reality of Why Your OOH Plant is Failing Miserably

I don’t know what the shelter revenue numbers are for OUTFRONT Media or JCDecaux, but based on the video attached and all the many, many other hugely successful creative shelters (photos are from these successful companies) they have produced over the years and tracking the advertisers on the street, I can not help but think that their management is solid and they know what they are doing. It is a daily reminder of success.  Look at the video below as the latest example of a build outside of the can or glass and you’ll understand both OOH providers have vision and a can do attitude.  

So why doesn’t every OOH shelter provider do that? Having worked for and with companies, yes more than one, who have similar ‘cans’ as their primary format, I can tell you first hand, it is due to poor management of the OOH Owner. 

How are your revenues doing?

The management just does not have vision and that vision is limited to their lack of understanding of sales. I am not talking about selling an advertiser or brand. Though that is a real problem they share.  I am talking about selling the municipality and everyone involved in the decision to approve ‘out of the can’ advertising.  

I know the few Outdoor Owners who fit this description, will be reading this and scoff at my comments. My response to you is simple: How are your revenues doing? The OOH Industry is enjoying some of the best sales numbers in years, not shattering numbers but arguable steady growth.  I see your inventory. I see your inventory daily.  

The street doesn’t lie

Let’s be clear, the street doesn’t lie.  Your occupancy is well under 50% and rates less than 50%. How investors tolerate that, I don’t have a clue.  Oh wait, for two of you unnamed operators I am thinking about, I do know how.  Your investors have a lot of money and… well, will leave it at that. 

I am offended

I am no longer shocked by the open space, because it has been going on for years.  I am now offended by your open/unsold inventory and the way your plant is mismanaged. It is an offense to the Industry and the image hurts everyone in it. 

I have been keeping relatively contained and quiet about this for the several years. Enough!  

The solution is pretty damn easy.  I am happy to share a plan on turning your plant revenues around in less than 12 months and operating within that time frame at over 80% occupancy and at a minimum 80% of your rate card. 


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OK, here is a step, not the first step, but a must step for turning your revenues around.

Get off the can.

Get outside the glass frame!  If someone in your organization tells you they have tried to convince the municipality and it can not be approved, get rid of that person or find them a position more suited for complacency. 

I refuse to believe you can not get your municipality to allow you to get outside of the frame and build out a creative shelter in your market. I would suggest you have not tried hard enough, not offering enough dollars for the partnership, or most likely, it is typically one of the following two things:

1. You have failed to sell the municipality on the benefits of why great OOH creative is best for everyone.  Hint: It is not a one time sale. You are going to have to give your muni partners more time than the unrealistic sales cycle you pressure on your sales staff and management.  If you are in a market which ‘will not approve’ build out, you need to communicate to the decision makers and municipal supervisors creative executions similar to the one’s on this post, every single week!  It is called selling. They will come around.

2. The second thing? You have the wrong company person interfacing with the municipality.  Get them out of there. Frankly, fire them and anyone in the organization who is not willing to drink this kool-aid. They will only serve to undermine. Get a sales manager or manager with sales capabilities (10,000+ hours) in there as the liaison. That is harsh and someone has turf to protect, but that is typically the number one source for failure.  All the other reasons listed above, will be taken care of by the having the correct liaison to the municipality.  This is the primary action you must take.

So will having the ability to advertise and build outside the ‘can’ guarantee success?  No. But if you get that solved, it’s a giant step in your growth and understanding of the OOH business. Contact me about the plan. 

Watch the video below with envy, awe and amazement how a shelter company who doesn’t take no for an answer, builds out an award winning creative execution.  Congrats OUTFRONT Media! 

This is obviously my opinion based on working with and observing some of these OOH companies, listening to their investors, fighting with management, managing and selling their inventory and my 40 years of experience including owning my own OOH company the last 20+ years, which is always sold out. Mine is a very, very small plant. 

What’s your opinion? How does one explain poor sales results in this tremendously strong economic climate and the fabulous ‘renaissance’ happening in OOH today?

We welcome your comments.




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  1. Mike Dunbar says

    My team built the hardware and handled logistics for the Lego project above. I could not agree more that these types of projects provide extreme earned value beyond impressions and provide a competitive edge to those media holders. OOH owners should know that there are companies like mine that do all of the hard work of engineering the custom hardware required to allow these types of extensions as well as work with creative teams to develop extension or interactive concepts.

  2. Bill Board says

    Extraordinary work Mike Dunbar. Illumivation knocked it out of the park for Lego and OOH! Well done! Thank you for comments and bringing to our attention it was you who did the project.
    For our OOH readers check out the website for Illumivation https://illumivation.com

  3. Jean-Paul Gedeon says

    Amazing work and makes this inventory a landmark!

  4. Christie says

    The industry is about squeezing every square inch out of a space, and you are right to call out where this is being sorely underutilized or mismanaged. You see OOH as it CAN be and SHOULD be, while some of the rest of us are in the thickets chasing the little foxes. Significant post, Mr. B. We will be wise to use this information to elevate our game, not b**** about particulars.
    Also, Mike Dunbar- EPIC project. Wow, one for the books. Way to go.

  5. Bill Board says

    Agreed Jean-Paul Gedeon. Stellar stuff/ amazing creative work can make one specific display location indeed a landmark in the community for years.

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