Global OOH Will Do Beautiful Things

“Tomorrow we will do beautiful things,” said Antoni Gaudi, the passionate Spanish architect of Sagrada Familia and other Catalan Modernism masterpieces.

I found inspiration in this quote by Gaudi, which I spotted on a postcard as I returned from the 57th FEPE International Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

It became evident — after 28 speakers representing 40 countries — that out of home (OOH) advertising faces remarkably similar opportunities and challenges around the world. It is also clear that “tomorrow we will do beautiful things” if the global OOH industry shapes the future by taking five steps:

1. Connect OOH and Mobile
Several speakers talked about the massive movement of ad dollars from traditional to digital media amidst major concerns about view-ability, bots, and ad-blockers. All speakers agreed that OOH helps to solve digital media problems. I shared results of OAAA’s Feel the Real campaign and research initiative. Alan Brydon from Outsmart presented research showing how OOH drives +17 percent uplift in smartphone brand actions. The one-and-only Annie Rickard of Posterscope said it best: “Every time a marketer plans a mobile campaign, it should include OOH.”

2. Reclaim OOH’s Creative Impact
Mark Craze from Outsmart reminded the FEPE audience that even the best metrics are not effective if there is no creative spark. James Murphy from the adamandeve agency described OOH creativity as the zenith of an agency’s creative discipline. Matthew Dearden from Clear Channel Europe spoke of the enduring impact of creative: “Great OOH creative touches our hearts in a way our heads cannot explain.”

3. Make OOH Easy to Plan, Buy, and Measure
The global OOH industry has work to do improving the customer experience by making OOH easier to plan, buy, and measure. “Publishing to a digital billboard should be just as easy as publishing to a web page,” said Andy Sriubas from OUTFRONT Media. Big dollars are moving to digital media because content is easy to deploy, detailed audience analytics are available, and ROI can be calculated. Thankfully, OOH is building platforms and offering solutions that will allow for a better customer experience, but more urgency is needed.

4. Make the Most of the Power of Data
Several speakers talked about new capabilities in how OOH collects, processes, and analyzes data to allow customers to understand, segment, and target OOH audiences with more precision. However, these are individual company initiatives rather than industry-wide programs, explained Mark Boidman from Peter J Solomon Company.

This should also be an industry-wide focus.

5. Serve the Public Good
OOH is the most public media type and, therefore, it has a special mandate to serve the public good. Smart people talked about smart cities. Several speakers referenced the OOH industry imperative to protect privacy in the midst of new technology applications. New FEPE President Matthew Dearden of Clear Channel Europe talked about the “power of the public promise.”

I left Barcelona in awe of the strength, vibrancy, creativity, and innovation of today’s global OOH industry.

As OOH embraces its most exciting future ever, I know “tomorrow we will do beautiful things.”

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