Media: Double Standards - Looking forward to the Underground revolution

Digital products are going to transform the way everyone looks at outdoor advertising and 2007 will be its year, two industry chiefs predict.

PAUL SHEARRING - UK managing director, Kinetic

- Which sites do you covet the most?

Well-presented billboards which still offer great coverage and value. I also like the range of backlit products available, which have raised the profile of out-of-home and introduced many new clients to the medium.

- What's the best outdoor innovation from the out-of-home industry in the past 12 months?

I don't think we have seen any single innovation that stands out this year. The industry has been gearing itself up for the exciting new opportunities available across 2007. I can't wait to see how the creative community respond to Cross-Track Projection and the other digital products on the London Underground.

- What's your favourite outdoor campaign?

The current work for Vodafone and DFS is particularly strong. Like many people, my favourite campaign is The Economist.

- What effect has Titan's takeover of Maiden had on the market?

Titan introduced a more dynamic sales and marketing approach, which should show benefits in the longer term for both the market and for Titan. The ongoing changes taking place internally at Titan will obviously take time to take effect, but I expect to see an impact in 2007.

- How much do you invest in research and evaluation?

Kinetic invests an increasing amount of time and resource in this area. We are shareholders in Postar and run our own research projects, as well as working with clients and media owners on an ongoing basis.

- Has the emergence of smaller, newer agencies had a positive impact on the out-of-home industry?

No.

- Do you use regional buying managers? How do they improve the level of service you offer clients?

Kinetic employs 11 full-time regional buying managers. The local experience and knowledge they offer our agencies and clients is invaluable in delivering the highest quality out-of-home campaigns.

- Is the "outdoor lunch" a thing of the past?

I know the days of the "long lunch" are very much in the past, although there are still some people who try to maintain that tradition. Same with all media.

- What will be the most interesting technological innovation to come out of the out-of-home industry in the next five years?

The ability of Postar to keep up with the medium. Investment will grow in the digital sector, and the transport sector will continue its successful growth. To evaluate all these different audiences and environments within a single Postar system will be a global innovation.

- What's your favourite outdoor activity?

Still playing cricket (just) and golf, watching my sons play football and rugby as well as watching The Glory Hornets!

- If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

To make it a 20 per cent medium in the UK.

GLEN WILSON - deputy managing director, Posterscope

- Which sites do you covet the most?

I have been in this business a long time and while I have coveted many things, such as Colin Gottlieb's Ferrari, poster sites have never been one of them.

- What's the best outdoor innovation from the out-of-home industry in the past 12 months?

The obvious answer that will make me look sexy and on the ball is probably something digital. In reality, the innovation with the most far-reaching effect is more likely Viacom's "giant Post-It note" dry-posting technology - it will revolutionise the look of the Underground.

- What's your favourite outdoor campaign?

Pretty Polly vertical posters - generating huge PR from fewer than 100 sites. Attempting special builds on this scale was a real turning point for creativity in the medium. It was an absolute nightmare to execute, but ultimately provided the inspiration to start our Hyperspace department, in order to foster the project management skills necessary to offer clients these opportunities, without the pain.

- What effect has Titan's takeover of Maiden had on the market?

Bill Apfelbaum is applying the tried-and-tested formula, that worked so well with TDI and the Underground, to the Titan proposition. As such, the most tangible effect is that we are seeing a lot more of them! As for the product, still a work in progress I feel, but there is no doubt that the rail audience is undervalued.

- How much do you invest in research and evaluation?

A lot! It is core to our approach to planning and the starting point for answering a brief rather than an afterthought. We have a dedicated Insight team which is putting the finishing touches to two pieces of proprietary research that will redefine the way that we plan.

- Has the emergence of smaller, newer agencies had a positive impact on the out-of-home industry?

Yes and no - agencies such as Open have contributed to the medium by providing a tailored service to smaller media agencies with specific needs, and their growth has been a testament to the value that they add. Other market entrants appear to be trying to put the clock back ten years.

- Do you use regional buying managers? How do they improve the level of service you offer clients?

We have a large team of regional managers who live and work in all corners of the country. While the level of desktop planning and buying sophistication now allows many operations to be carried out centrally, there is still no real substitute for intimate local knowledge.

- Is the "outdoor lunch" a thing of the past?

I like a picnic as much as the next man.

- What will be the most interesting technological innovation to come out of the out-of-home industry in the next five years?

There will be many niche developments, but it's the evolution of display technologies that people will notice the most - sunlight readable LCD screens, high-res LED screens and even light-emitting concrete!

- What's your favourite outdoor activity?

Surfing.

- If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

To stop some commentators looking backwards rather than seeing out-of-home's massive opportunity in an increasingly mobile society.

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