Media: Double Standards - Why outdoor is well prepared for any challenge

According to two sales managing directors, outdoor is the perfect medium to meet a 'seismic shift in media consumption'.

SPENCER BERWIN - MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SALES, JCDECAUX

- What did the recent The 3rd Space London outdoor conference achieve?

It demonstrated the confidence of the outdoor industry, that after ten years of continuous investment it delivers the audience, products, quality and flexibility required by advertisers. There has been a seismic shift in media consumption, which is why the medium is perfectly placed to meet the challenges ahead.

- Why should advertisers invest in out of home?

Sir Martin Sorrell famously said: "Clients spend 10 per cent of their budgets on digital media, yet spend 20 per cent of their time online. This is a disconnect that we have to correct." The same disconnect is true of outdoor - we are spending 16 per cent of our time out of home, yet outdoor commands 10 per cent of media budgets. I believe this is a disconnect that we will correct.

- What do you say to accusations of a lack of transparency in outdoor?

The same disconnect is true of outdoor - we are spending 16 per cent of our time out of home, yet outdoor commands 10 per cent of media budgets. I believe this is a disconnect that we will correct.

- What's your view on Andy Burnham's suggestion to move government adspend from outdoor into regional press?

When there is a need to advertise, the Government has a commitment to reach target audiences using media that represent best value. And outdoor offers great value. It provides thousands of bus shelters, supports transport infrastructure, provides income streams to local shops and businesses and pays millions of pounds in rates to local authorities - so the Government has a moral, as well as a media, reason to support the medium that supports real local services.

- Will outdoor media owners work closer together, now they're all in the same rocky boat?

The OAA/IPAO 3rd Space conference was a perfect example of the outdoor industry working together. We confirmed six years of funding for Postar, unveiled new research, new case studies and a raft of new econometric findings. Having said all that, the industry has always worked well together - with or without a rocky boat.

- Would you accept outdoor isn't as glamorous as other media?

I guess the short answer has to be no. This summer marks ten years of JCDecaux acquiring Mills & Allen. Before that, some of you will remember green billboards and zero glamour being the hallmark of billboards. Ten years on, London is the showcase city for outdoor excellence. Brands such as Chanel can choose from digital screens at Heathrow and the M4 digital torch, through to glossy magazine-style Premiere Portraits and six-sheets outside the most desirable addresses in London.

- What have you done to get your business through this tough period?

JCDecaux has invested in a new FastForward printing hub that has slashed the time taken from booking a campaign to display. This new flexibility means we can take tactical last-minute campaigns on a Wednesday and have them posted on a Friday.

- What would be your alternative career?

Stick or twist? I'd prefer to stick - I joined outdoor because I believe it has a great future and I joined JCDecaux because it's the best outdoor company by miles.

TIM BLEAKLEY - MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING, CBS

- What did the recent The 3rd Space London outdoor conference achieve?

It showcased the medium for what it is now and what it will be in 2012 - a vital part of the communications mix and a medium that has invested ahead of the downturn. We have demonstrated the importance of the third space and shown how clients can make adspend go further in one of the UK's only mediums delivering growing audiences.

- Why should advertisers invest in out of home?

In three words (with the third space) - audience, trust, targeting. In these extraordinary times, outdoor is a medium that the public can trust - a rock-solid place for advertisers to put their messages and one that is not embroiled in bad news. We have invested in techniques and innovations that allow advertisers to tap into an incredibly valuable and growing audience in ways that have previously only been available via alternative media. If you want to tap into the 21 million passenger journeys each week on the London Underground, but deliver a different message every hour of every day, you can.

- What do you say to accusations of a lack of transparency in outdoor?

Outdoor is the only medium that declares transparently to its customer base that it pays higher commissions. We have legal trading agreements with our customers, and our customers are open at IPA and ISBA industry levels.

- What's your view on Andy Burnham's suggestion to move government adspend from outdoor into regional press?

I am looking forward to the Government stepping in to save the local book store or local butcher from the success of Amazon and Tesco. For the Government to make any comment on where ad budgets may be spent to support a failing sector is simply out of touch and ludicrous. The media landscape has changed and the third space is vital to the economic success and growth of the UK economy.

- Will outdoor media owners work closer together, now they're all in the same rocky boat?

The 3rd Space conference is a great example of this. There will always be fierce competition, but I think we are more aware than ever that the value of our asset (consumers on the move) should be playing a bigger role in advertisers' media schedules. That is if you believe that, ultimately, revenue should follow audience. And I do.

- Would you accept outdoor isn't as glamorous as other media?

There are elements of other media that may create a perception of glamour, but having worked in many of them, I know the reality. We media folk market and sell the audience; we are not the talent that attracts that audience. The beauty of outdoor is that creative media innovations and ideas can flourish without having to deal with the egos that may exist in other media.

- What have you done to get your business through this tough period?

We've spent a lot of time discussing recession-busting themes to create dialogue with our customers, rather than simply offering discounts. All clients want discount and all media owners can give it, but deal fatigue is a danger and better customer engagement will bring better ideas.

- What would be your alternative career?

The quick answer involves the red number seven shirt, but right now I'm looking to wind the clock back 20 years and go into the City or Westminster. Lots of cash, big expense account, second home in Wimbledon, no accountability and no transparency ... hang on, isn't that the glamorous world of media in the mid-80s?

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