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Here is Why OOH National Sales are Down in this Robust Marketplace

View Points from Traditional OOH Providers

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National Sales has been the topic of nearly everyone’s conversation we have spoken to at the closing of the 1st quarter.  By all accounts with few exceptions ‘National Sales’ are significantly less than previous year’s total year to date.  Of the Big 3 OOH companies (Lamar, Outfront and Clear Channel) only Lamar credits National sales as higher than last years.. Of course, National Sales Accounts for Lamar is typically very different from the other OOH providers.  Clear Channel and Outfront on the other hand, have rumored concerns of National sales off by as much as 35% in some of the largest markets in the country.  National sales are well under last year’s figures creating budget adjustments to back load to the end of the year, in what may be an impossible task even if sales were to roll in, because of the finite amount of inventory.

OOH Today spoke with OOH Industry members large and small, on both the OOH provider and buyer sides.

For obvious reasons as you will realize as you read the comments below, we were unable to provide names where the responses came from.  We are grateful for the participants  time and comments. We hope you find them informative and helpful to your National sales efforts.

Please join in the discussion sharing your thoughts regarding National sales. Are they Good? Bad? Why?

Traditional OOH Owner Operator of multiple midsize Midwestern markets.
“We really do not know why nationals sales are down.  If anyone tells you they have the collective answer to this, they are either lying or they are very naive.  We have countless people asking us where is the business on the national side and unfortunately we do not know.  How are we sure that no one knows?  All you have to do is ask the actual clients.  They have no idea. Each of them have “theories” ranging from volatility in the markets, to lack of new product launches, to the Olympics.
One minute, we are heroes who saved our month/quarter/year and the next minute, we are just a waste of sales staff.
I can tell you that in Q4 of last year, our company was very optimistic that Q1 was going to be very robust.  We had a lot of inventory ready to be contracted or “strongly considered”  For whatever reason, programs were not cut, but pushed back.  Again, as mentioned, the actual clients did not know why these programs were delayed.
We are now seeing an uptick in Q2 and beyond.  Can it be enough to make up the negative growth in Q1? Probably not, but now it is more about dressing the wounds and making sure we can do everything in our power to limit the hemorrhaging.”

Traditional OOH Owner Operator West Coast Midsize Markets

“Our National sales are flat. We are just under last year’s figures, yet close enough to call it even with last year and we expect to finish slightly above last year’s numbers.  We will miss budget for the year, however we have never been overly reliant on National sales.  We have made committed efforts through planning in the 4th quarter last year to retain and build our national business in the following manner.

  1. Market Rides- We push hard for market rides.  We budgeted and are spending those dollars to bring in National Agencies for market rides regardless of any buys they may or may not have.  We pay for their flights, hotel and food. We give them a plant tour/ride and tie in an event such as concert or other entertainment.

2. Volume Discounts We provide volume discounts to our national advertising agencies. Based on                   dollars spent, we provide discounts at the end of each quarter.

3. Sales is Primarily an Art -.  We use and believe in data but it is not the primary guiding force for our                 sales team. We never fell in love with data and forgot the human side or art of selling. We have                   found a personal touch carries further than data. We use data however not at the over reliance it                 makes or breaks us.

4. Reduce Corporate Oversight / Control- We stay out of local market’s in how they operate. Sure we              provide guidelines and direction but our GM’s are responsible for the entire market which include rates        and sales.  We learned cookie cutter decision-making from the corporate level in each market does not       always translate to one size fits all for success. We hire the right people. Train and retain them. We              listen. As long as GM’s make their top and bottom lines we are happy, and guess what?  So are they.          Which makes each market more productive.”

 

“From a competitive perspective in each our markets, we compete with, what do you call them Bill?               The Big 3?  Here is our perspective, what we observed and learned from them:

a. Don’t allow yourself to become spoiled and rely on National business. We keep at our local sales diligently, knowing its a ‘safer bet’ to continue.

b. We keep our senior people.  Perhaps a bit longer than we should but the experience and work ethic they bring is daily.  We have seen the larger OOH companies go through their local markets’ management team particularly their General Mangers, changing them out like my grand kids’ diapers.  We find it’s a boon to our business. The gap created in transition has benefited us. As well as the continuity of our management team.

c. Everyone carries a list in our organization including GM’s.  I make sales calls myself. Not every day and typically only 3 to 4 days a quarter.  I get out from behind the desk, meeting with clients, listening and learning first hand.  Advertisers appreciate the personal interest and the young buyers enjoy the attention and recognition we provide by meeting with them, sending hand written notes, personal emails and social media following.

d. Too much digital inventory.  We have our share of digital inventory however we have not over built.  We have witnessed the competition building Digital bulletins because they could.  Some in poor or marginal locations because they could.  The idea that digital bulletins are too expensive to build in any area other than ‘A’ positions is no longer true.  The unfettered building of digital locations has cannibalized static structures making avails and pricing dicey.”

Tomorrow we’ll share further comments regarding National sales which will include those made by two ad agencies.

 

 

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