With events such as the World Cup, the poignant WW1 celebrations and the introduction of brand-wrapped Boris Buses, 2014 offered opportunity and challenges in equal measure.
Out of Home is known for its traditional paper and paste history but clearly the addition of digital and social-driven campaigns is its future.
At Talon, digital has enabled us to create some of the most iconic moments of 2014 in partnership with some major brands and media owners.
Who could forget the PepsiMax Tiger loose on New Oxford Street, the Google Outside screens that knew exactly where you wanted to go for dinner, or Walkers’ Twitter-driven campaign that had Gary Lineker distributing crisps to unsuspecting Londoners, which other medium could give the public a Gary Lineker vending machine?
An innovation revolution
The innovative use of digital that has been witnessed throughout 2014 has enabled advertisers to create more personalized and tailored communications with consumers.
Digital screens now account for 25% of OOH revenue (and closer to a third across Talon's spend) and are increasingly regarded as the must-have channel.
Working well alongside broadcast opportunities, DOOH enables brands to really enhance brand communications. For example, a premium digital campaign alone can reach half of all upscale audiences now in our top 15 cities.
Several media owners including JCDecaux, Primesight and Clear Channel have made moves to increase the number of digital screens in their portfolios in a bid to stay ahead of the curve.
An intelligent decision as levels of investment is set to continue sharply into 2015 as the industry transforms its appeal and identity.
We're also seeing strong private equity backing. Ocean's recent £80 million ownership change was announced with the proclamation from new owners SCP around belief in "the long-term growth potential of digital out of home advertising and Ocean’s accomplished track record of successful innovation."
The right location
Whilst digital looks set to encourage further growth for OOH in 2015, location still remains a primary factor of success. Reaching consumers when they want something and when they need it has never been more important.
To meet changing demands, OOH will have to get even smarter as an industry and continue to embrace smarter data options, including mobile data and our Route research. We are using such techniques for clients including Google, TSB and others to influence audiences at key times of day at prime locations.
Looking ahead to 2015, the use of data will redefine OOH as a location medium and will ensure leading locations are utilized by advertisers. After all, Londoners will reportedly encounter up to 50 OOH ads a day and no brand wants to be in the wrong place.
Transformation and a formula for the future
It is hard to see anything but audience data being the real catalyst of the OOH transformation. It will be a numbers game, a negotiation, the harmonizing of planning and investment strategies and the shift towards automated and smarter planning that will see OOH continue to develop in 2015.
Out of Home is not about to enter a new programmatic era but new opportunities to consolidate planning, buying and data processes are set to be established throughout 2015.
With events such as the General Election and the launch of the night Tube to coincide with the Rugby World Cup in September, there are several platforms for OOH to demonstrate its clout throughout 2015, with extended dwell times at stations, mass mobile audiences, the expansion of technology in our everyday lives and the spotlight on political campaigns and a shifting consumer sentiment.
As Out of Home continues to offer advertisers ways of getting noticed (and reaching truly valuable audiences), industry growth will continue as media owners further invest in the future.
By the end of 2015 OOH is expected to grow further, in line with media projections, but with mobile, retail and media fragmentation offering a real opportunity for standout.
It is the broadcast nature of the medium that continues to offer real media value. We expect smart brands to use OOH to reach audiences, but overlaying innovation, context and location to reach them in the right way to deliver real effectiveness, impact and a formula for success.
Eric Newnham is chief executive of Talon Outdoor