Making OOH Advertising a Core Media Buy

OAAA Chairman Sean Reilly and OAAA President & CEO Nancy Fletcher Present the US OOH Industry Positioning Story to the 58th FEPE Congress

Stockholm, Sweden

Nancy Fletcher
Let me begin by reporting that the US OOH industry is doing well:

  • In 2016, US industry revenue hit an all-time high of $7.6 billion.
  • OOH has grown in every one of the last 28 quarters.
  • Every segment of the business was up in 2016: digital and printed billboards, street furniture, transit, and place-based OOH.
  • One quarter of the Top 100 OOH advertisers are now fast-growing digital or tech brands like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.
  • This year, US OOH revenues are on track to surpass magazines and then overtake newspapers in 2019.

Sean Reilly
But there are other non-financial ways to look at the health of our industry. How well are we responding to disruptive change? How well are we getting out in front of it, so we’ll continue to be relevant to our customers? Are we getting better every day? We better be, because every day is bringing change.

Nancy Fletcher
That’s our focus here today: to share with you how the US OOH industry came together to craft a unified response to disruptive change.

Sean Reilly
We know there are significant differences between the US market and the rest of the world.

  • In the United States, OOH is only 4 percent of the total media mix.
  • Unlike the US, the rest of the world’s OOH displays are located primarily in urban centers.
  • Digital OOH makes up 50 percent of the revenue mix in some countries, but less than 30 percent of US OOH revenue.
  • The US operates almost 90 percent of its inventory on private property, with private leases, while the rest of the world has more OOH inventory on public property, often with competitive tenders.

But, even with these differences, we’re still more alike than different. We all have similar customers; we face similar challenges and opportunities.

We have a lot we can learn from each other.

Nancy Fletcher
If I’ve learned one thing through the years, it’s that the American OOH industry is stronger and more successful because of industry collaboration. So many of the most pressing challenges are bigger than any one company.

And so, over the years, we’ve developed a unique model of industry cooperation combined with vigorous competition. It’s our job at OAAA to do all we can to manage the right balance between the two, and deliver results for our 800 member companies: big and small, local and national, private and public.

With Unified and collective action of member companies — we can defend our members’ rights to deploy digital billboards, advocate on privacy issues, fund groundbreaking research, and promote our medium with industry-wide campaigns

captureSean Reilly
An extraordinary example of this kind of unity happened this past summer. Leaders from across the industry came together in New York, and then spent six months working together to create an industry vision for the next five years.

Remember, we are all intense competitors. We all sit in very different chairs, and we lead very different companies. But we were willing to cooperate, to create a unified, industry strategy.

Nancy Fletcher
It really was an impressive example of creativity and collaboration. We had a Brit, a Frenchman, a Southerner educated at Harvard. We had a private equity expert, three fiercely independent operators, two sophisticated New York marketers, a brand consultant to facilitate the whole thing, and, of course, we had opinions!

It’s not easy to get C-level people to agree on anything, but somehow this worked.

Sean Reilly
captureIt did indeed, but it took time and leadership. Besides different cultures and personalities, we also had to consider different business models, different customer bases, and how those differences informed our viewpoints.

In the United States, there are 210 distinct DMA’s (designated market areas), and Lamar operates in 90 percent of them.

Lamar Advertising has a predominantly local advertiser base, while OUTFRONT Media and Clear Channel Outdoor have a predominantly national client base.

Of course, there were disagreements, but we worked through them. We knew we had to own what digital, mobile, big data, programmatic, and a host of new technologies represent for our industry. We knew, if we could be proactive, if we could shape the narrative and help advertisers think about OOH differently, more expansively, and more positively — then we could enlarge the pie for everyone.

Nancy Fletcher
Over the years, I’ve learned that a good positioning strategy puts a stake in the ground. It says who you are, what you stand for, and why people should care. It acts like a “North Star” for the entire industry, getting everyone on the same page, bringing focus and clarity to our member companies.

captureSean Reilly
So, it was in this spirit that we got to work. The first thing we did was to agree on a single financial goal for the US OOH industry, which was to grow OOH by 30 percent over the next five years.

After debate and refinements, we created a single vision for the next five years: to make OOH advertising more of a core media buy than ever before.

Nancy Fletcher
The selection of the word “core” was intentional. “Core” means important; it means fundamental and vital. It’s an “essential part” of something. When OOH is seen as a core component of the advertising media mix — alongside TV, digital, mobile, and social — then we will achieve OOH’s rightful place in our increasingly interconnected advertising world.

Sean Reilly
The next thing we did was “position the OOH medium.” In other words, what is our unique value proposition? And how should advertisers think about us?

We landed on eight brand attributes that define OOH and show how OOH is different from other ad media. These are the proof points we use on why OOH should be considered more of a core media buy.

The most important three points called “spike attributes” are:

  • Creative impact
    OOH offers big, bold, powerful storytelling combined with a wide range of formats, shapes, and sizes that deliver larger-than-life creativity.
  • Contextual relevance
    OOH delivers the right message, at the right time, and the right place, to the right audience.
  • Media amplifier
    OOH efficiently extends reach and frequency. Even more important — compared to any other traditional medium — OOH is the most efficient driver of digital and mobile clicks, likes, and page-views.

Nancy Fletcher
Those are the three most important attributes. The other five attributes also define and differentiate the OOH

  • Ubiquity
    OOH is everywhere. It’s always on. It surrounds and immerses consumers wherever they live, work, travel, shop, and play. OOH’s presence in the physical world is an advantage because OOH is the real thing, delivering real impressions to real people.
  • Connected
    OOH fuses consumers and brands like never before, and it’s putting useful technology to work to make it easier to plan, buy, and measure.
  • Data-Driven
    OOH is leapfrogging other media thanks to how we use geo-location, audience measurement, and advanced analytics. The result is better targeting, deeper insights, and enhanced ROI.
  • Accountable
    OOH has a strong focus on customers, solutions, and results.
  • captureInnovative
    We continue to embrace change, and we stay forward thinking.

Sean Reilly
The tagline is “OOH. Real. Powerful. Advertising.”

The OAAA integrated the new branding into every aspect of its operations: online, printed materials, webinars, and thought-leadership pieces. You can access these tools on the OAAA website at

Industry leaders created this vision, but of course we knew the work wouldn’t really have an impact unless it was incorporated and integrated into each member’s organization. To the right is an example of how Lamar uses the new positioning in its materials — on our website, with our presentations and proposals, and with other customer communications.

captureNancy Fletcher
The last thing we did was develop a future-facing strategy that spells out what OOH companies need to do over the next five years. We identified four critical priorities:

• Tell today’s OOH story
• Elevate OOH’s creative impact
• Deliver ease of use and provable results
• Be responsive and responsible partners

Sean Reilly: Tell today’s OOH Story
The first priority is to tell today’s OOH story to advertisers and media professionals, because too many of them hold outdated views about OOH. It’s our job to educate advertisers that today’s OOH is more than ever a core media buy.

We’re pitching our story directly to ad agencies. Over the past three years, on behalf of the industry, the OAAA has visited 330 advertising agencies, and they’re on track to visit 100 more this year.

captureAnother way we’re telling our story is through industry-wide advertising campaigns. The award-winning Feel the Real campaign has been one of our most successful marketing initiatives, and we keep breathing new life into it. In February, we ran a series of billboards — donated by Lamar — that surrounded Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in Cincinnati, OH.

We put these up after the global brand officer at Procter & Gamble, Marc Pritchard, publicly spoke out against digital ad fraud and viewability issues. I mean how fun was this — to get right in the face of the largest advertiser on the planet?

Later this year, we’ll start work on the next industry-wide marketing campaign that will break in 2018.

Nancy Fletcher: Elevate OOH’s Creative Impact
The second priority is to do everything we can to elevate OOH’s creative impact.

Creative impact is consistently ranked the number one reason advertisers buy OOH. So, we’re working to double-down on creative excellence. We’re celebrating the best OOH creative at our OBIE Awards, and we’re investing in the look, feel, and quality of our medium.

In OOH, innovation and creativity are part of the same equation. We‘re investing in new inventory types, new formats, and new technologies that showcase OOH’s creative impact. The more we innovate, the more we create new ways to engage with consumers.

Sean Reilly: Ease of Use and Provable Results
Our third priority is to work tirelessly to provide ease of use and provable results for our advertisers.

Data is transforming our medium. Data allows us to be more accountable, provides us more proven and verifiable results, allows us to know more about consumers, reveals rich insights into real behavior, allows us to target consumers with more precision, puts OOH on a level playing field with digital advertising, and delivers a similar level of rich metrics that has fueled growth of digital media.

Connected digital networks allow us to package and sell OOH in more customer-friendly ways, while automated planning and buying platforms allow us to improve the buy/sell process.

Nancy referenced our industry model of cooperation combined with competition. The three largest companies in the United States are pursuing different data strategies.

Each approach is showing signs of success. Each of us is using data and insights to show advertisers why OOH should be a core media buy and how OOH complements and accelerates mobile, social, and digital advertising.

Nancy Fletcher: Be Responsive and Responsible Partners
The fourth and final priority is to continue to be responsive and responsible partners in the communities we serve.

We’re a highly visible industry, with company names on every display face in the United States.

It would be a serious mistake to take the ubiquity of the OOH platform for granted. Therefore, we work every day at the local, state, and national levels of government to assure that ubiquity. And the reality is that the big, new development opportunities tend to depend on the support of government, or quasi-government entities, and ultimately the support of the public. So, we’re very mindful of playing a positive role in the marketplace.

captureThe US OOH industry donates more than $500 million a year of public service advertising. That includes our recent campaign for our national parks, which are a big attraction for tourism, and our new campaign with National Geographic, to save endangered species.

We also partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on emergency preparedness. We display AMBER Alerts for missing children on digital billboards, and assist law enforcement and thousands of charities. The FBI says tips from the public generated by digital billboards have directly resulted in the arrest of 57 fugitives.

The most effective way to create a receptive and welcoming environment for OOH is to be responsible stewards both at the industry level and the company level.

We are part of the community, part of the economy, part of the culture, and we’ll definitely be part of smart cities, smart transit, and part of the connected future.

Sean Reilly
When you look at the US OOH industry-wide priorities for the next five years, you’ll see they’re very similar to the ones outlined by FEPE President Matthew Deardon.


You see, we really aren’t that much different.

Nancy Fletcher
The FEPE pillars are completely consistent with the US vision and strategy, proving that the globalization of OOH is upon us.

Sean Reilly
Or, that great minds think alike!

Nancy Fletcher
That too! Over my 25 years at OAAA, I’ve witnessed exciting opportunities as well as some serious threats. We have succeeded as an industry when we have collaborated to address our challenges as a strong and united industry, with one voice, with all of us working together, and pulling in the same direction.

The creation of this five-year vision is a terrific example of collaboration.

Sean Reilly
Collaboration and cooperation among competitors have made our industry stronger. Every day, many times a day, an OOH salesperson is out there telling the OOH story.

We have a choice. We can have hundreds of different stories, or we can align on the most effective and powerful story.

As an industry CEO, and now as chairman of OAAA, I’m pleased with this industry collaboration. We’re addressing change, and we’re doing it head-on.

We’re charting our course. From local salespeople on up to the C-Suite, we’re giving our people a common vision, a vision that will elevate OOH, and more than ever, make it a core media buy.

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