Lessons Learned From the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference 2021

They are all talking about you.

Perhaps this may have been a negative statement in middle school, yet not in this case.

I had the privilege of attending the ANA Conference in Orlando this month, doing my part to represent the OOH industry alongside Anna Bager and Stephen Freitas from the OAAA. Like most events in the second half of 2021, this was a hybrid model with fewer live attendees than in years past. This created a unique opportunity for more access to brand marketers and more intimate conversations.

There were several recurring themes that I believe to be relevant to the members of our great OOH industry. Here are my top 8 for us all to consider:

Be A Force for Good, A Force for Growth

– Although this is a well-known quote from Marc S Prichard, Chief Brand Officer P&G, this message truly became the mantra of the conference.
– Not only should this become a goal for brands, equally important we can all learn something from this statement as individuals in society.
– One interesting observation made was in business just doing good is not sustainable if it doesn’t also help the company grow. That is the holy grail to ensure long-term meaningful change.
– What is your “Purpose”?

Dream Crazy

– NIKE certainly shared this message the best by creating a motivating video, which included inspiring people daring to dream and then being pictured on OOH spectaculars towering over the city.
– I couldn’t help but think about the relevance to our industry… this is our time to “dream big”. Dream beyond the 4% of the media mix and have the courage to believe it is our time.

Lead With Love, Focus on Who you Serve

– Whether it was J&J or Kohls, it is clear that the focus on the consumer is relentless for all top brands. We can serve that focus by continuing to offer new audience insights and attribution with all OOH programs. We now have the capabilities, and brand marketers do not know it yet.

Constructive Disruption

– This was referring to the ad industry evolving (and world-changing) experience of the last 18 months. Of course, none of us would ask to go through it again, yet the advertising industry has been disrupted in a way that has forced us to reconsider every way we all do business.
– For the OOH industry, we were forced to use the time constructively and evolve. This is why the disruption (and there was plenty) will end up being the constructive agent of positive change we needed to elevate our medium.

Focus on the Math, Never Forget the Magic

– This is a simple message for us all. As we put resources towards our measurement efforts (and we should), always remember (and remind brand marketers) the ultimate differentiator of the medium… Out of Home creates the magic.

Always Have a Diverse Perspective in the Room

– This was a recurring theme of the week. While we are all making strides in this arena, it is clear we have a lot more work to do. And the fact is, those diverse perspectives will make any company smarter and more connected to the real world!

Whatever Happens, There’s No Turning Back… the Wheel of Time

– Ukonwa Ojo, CMO Amazon Prime shared this message and it is one that resonates with me in a deep way.
– She was reminding us that although after the pandemic some things may go back to “normal”, the world has changed forever and those who welcome that change will flourish.
– In our world, I believe this means we could feel bad for ourselves after enduring the challenges the OOH industry experienced in the last 18 months, or we can seize the “new day”. A day where a new and bright spotlight is shining upon us. It is our choice.

Which brings me to my final observation…

They Are All Talking About You!

– Throughout my 24-year tenure in the OOH business, I have never heard more brand marketers talk about OOH in their high-level strategy conversations.
– Mastercard, during the heart of the pandemic used OOH to let people know where the emptiest supermarkets were…in real-time. They also used OOH to show pride support.
– Frito Lay, educated the world about “Cheetle” (look it up!) through OOH, spreading Purposeful Joy.
– Weber Grill used activations with Grill Ambassadors to bring the backyard party to you.
– Kohl’s CMO, Greg Revelle warned fellow brand marketers not to “Equate Brand Marketing with Lower ROI.”
– L’Oreal’s Shennan Reed believes in Content+Relevance and her Frequency target of 10 touchpoints per user per month. She shared that, “OOH is more relevant than ever” and “Screen Fatigue is Real – Think out of the digital box.”

In summary my friends, the message is clear. After all we have been through, this is our time to elevate the OOH conversation with brand marketers. They are hungry to make their mark and make a difference in the world. We can help, and we can prove it.

It is our time to dream crazy, remember the magic, and thrive.

Gary Greenstein
Chief Revenue Officer
Vector Media