Media: Double Standards - The future of outdoor - digital or super-sized?

Innovation and change are both standard in the outdoor business, but the clever money is on digital, two outdoor chiefs say.

NICKY CHESHIRE - HEAD OF IMPACT, VIACOM OUTDOOR

- Who are your biggest clients?

Today, it's not just about the ones that spend the most money; our biggest clients are also those that see the long-term potential of our media environments and genuinely want to partner with us to understand and connect better with consumers on the move.

- Was the World Cup a boost for the outdoor industry? If not, why not?

No - apart from the jollies. It's fair to say that, along with the rest of the media business, we went into the World Cup with high hopes, but were a little disappointed with the results. A bit like the England team really. I think perhaps advertisers have had their fingers burnt by some media overpricing in previous years. However, for us, this disappointment was more than compensated by the fact that our January-to-June sales revenue is well up year on year overall.

- What will be the biggest revenue driver - digital formats or super-sized formats and why?

Digital - because of the flexibility that screens offer for relevant sophisticated targeting of audiences by mindset. Coupled with new interactive possibilities, this makes for a really powerful communication opportunity.

- What was the most innovative product your company has launched in the past 12 months?

Probably our LED bus-sides, which have been recently upgraded with GPS technology and can now broadcast changing messages throughout the day depending on time and location.

- What makes your company stand out from its competitors?

Energy, passion and ambition. And, of course, our media properties- some of the most unique and valuable in the world.

- How closely does your company work with creative agencies?

Our Voice team has developed strong working relationships with creative agencies and we are now looking to recruit talent from this background to build a more consistent dialogue.

- What is the biggest opportunity facing the outdoor industry?

Outdoor is unique in that it has the ability to offer both broadcast and narrowcast communication channels. While posters still deliver rapidly built mass coverage, increasingly, new technology will facilitate precise, discrete audience targeting.

- Which type of advertiser works best with the outdoor medium?

Anyone who is prepared to invest in the medium for the long term and build a dialogue with consumers centred on simple, smart creative executions that evolve over time.

- What is your all-time favourite poster and why?

I'd have to say Jack Daniel's on the Tube. These pioneered a long-copy format that's becoming more prevalent in the crosstrack environment.

- What do you enjoy most about your job?

The challenge of coming up with innovative solutions that really deliver an effective response to an advertiser's brief - creativity with a purpose rather than random stunts.

- What is your favourite outdoor activity?

I'm a big fan of al fresco dining, particularly on the Cote d'Azure.

- What would you have been if you hadn't gone into media?

I would have been a travel writer, paid to visit exotic and glamorous locations, rather than dodging the crack dealers in Camden on a wet Monday morning.

ROB ATKINSON - GROUP SALES DIRECTOR, CLEAR CHANNEL

- Who are your biggest clients?

They are from the categories FMCG, fast food, government, entertainment, mobile phones, furniture and other media owners.

- Was the World Cup a boost for the outdoor industry? If not, why not?

Outdoor is ideal for reaching sports fans and being part of the excitement and experience. Such major events do give the industry a boost, with great World Cup-related campaigns such as Mars Believe, Adidas, Times Newspapers and drinks brands, but inevitably some other advertisers tended to plan around it. Several may have avoided July and planned campaigns later, because we have seen a very strong August and September is selling out.

- What will be the biggest revenue driver - digital formats or super-sized formats and why?

There is nothing more powerful than a simple, stunning visual image. The important thing is to offer high-quality, illuminated sites with outstanding reproduction in fantastic locations. Some will be digital, offering day-part flexibility and, for now, most will be backlit vinyl.

- What was the most innovative product your company has launched in the past 12 months?

Our network of ten digital roadside panels in Central London locations such as Cromwell Road and Vauxhall Cross will be launched in October. Advertisers will be able to change their messages and brands throughout the day.

- What makes your company stand out from its competitors?

Our Campaign Planning service and our innovation in terms of new packages, unrivalled flexibility in targeting and site selection, and our Audience Solutions approach, putting the consumer at the heart of every strategy.

- How closely does your company work with creative agencies?

We have very good relationships with several agencies and we ask creative directors to judge our annual Student Design Awards, which attracts hundreds of entries from art colleges responding to real briefs from our sponsors. This year, the sponsors were BT, Budweiser and Sony PSP.

- What is the biggest opportunity facing the outdoor industry?

Outdoor is nearly 10 per cent of total ad revenue and has the capacity to reach 15 or 20 per cent. Many advertisers are finding that it works extremely well for them and, for those advertisers who haven't tried it yet, we offer robust regional tests and research.

- Which type of advertiser works best with the outdoor medium?

Any advertiser with a brand! The most important factors, of course, are clarity of image and message. There are some brilliant examples such as iPod, The Economist and Nike.

- What is your all-time favourite poster and why?

Apple iPod, owing to its striking image; the famous silhouette is recognised the world over.

- What do you enjoy most about your job?

The diversity and depth of the role means there is never a dull moment; we are always expanding our horizons.

- What is your favourite outdoor activity?

I love being out of doors, participating in as well as watching sport, particularly skiing, golf and football.

- What would you have been if you hadn't gone into media?

Either a sports commentator or a travel writer.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).