Planning for the Future of OOH

By: Jacquie Henderson, Midnight Oil

Take a drive down the famous Sunset Strip in Los Angeles today and it looks quite different than it did a year and a half ago. Residents and tourists alike are taking in the scenery, dining at the trendy eateries, and – as they say in Hollywood – being seen. What hasn’t changed is the iconic landscape of outdoor advertisements promoting luxury jewelry brands, showcasing celebrity endorsements, and most often, telling you about the next must-see TV series or movie.

At Midnight Oil, we have been producing and printing OOH advertising pieces for film studios and content producers, including many of the iconic billboards stretched across Sunset Boulevard, going on 15 years. The industry is constantly evolving and responding in real time, most recently to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As we look toward the future and plan for the year to come, it’s worth looking back at a recent conversation between industry experts about the OOH landscape. Moderated by OOH Media Executive Rick Robinson, and featuring OAAA President and CEO Anna Bager, the October 27th discussion hosted by Midnight Oil focused on the future of OOH and the outlook for the industry following a bleak year and a half.

Digital dominated the conversation, with Robinson estimating that digital represents close to 20% of the current OOH footprint and 40% of the revenue. According to Bager, “Digital is driving most of the growth of out of home right now.” Julie Radlovic, Group VP of National Sales for Outfront added that, “Every major market that we have we are trying to convert as much static as we can to digital … It is the future of out of home.”

Also contributing to growth is the industry’s increased focus on measurement through technological advancements and mobile-based solutions. Stacy Enderle, who represents entertainment clients as the Group Director of OOH at the agency Essence, says that outdoor advertising is such a trusted platform that oftentimes, data and analytics just prove that OOH works. “The measurements just helps us to build a case of investing more dollars into out of home.”

OOH also has the unique ability to go viral, bringing more awareness to the campaign through an additional platform and providing earned media. Kevin Bjelajac, whose creative marketing career includes time at Netflix and currently at Paramount+ as the VP of Creative Marketing, says that the explosive increase in content we are seeing today does not necessarily translate to an increase in marketing budgets. “You need to take whatever is in your media mix, whatever you can find, and you need to figure out a way to generate earned media.” Essentially, while content is king, creative marketing is what will generate awareness – and ultimately viewers – of content. Bjelajac added about the creative marketing departments at the studios and streaming services, “They’re looking to do something that’s never been done before that you can see in real life and get social attention … a lot of times, that comes out in out of home.”

As Bager summarized, “Out of home is about uniqueness.” Now that’s something that will never change.