Is OMG's hiring of Talon a defining moment for outdoor?

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OMG's decision to place its business with Talon could signal change in the outdoor sector, Alasdair Reid writes.

Two weeks ago, there were just three outdoor media specialists of note – Kinetic, Posterscope and Rapport – but, in reality, the market was a duopoly, dominated by the Aegis-owned Posterscope and WPP’s Kinetic, each holding roughly 40 per cent of the market.

Lately, the assumption has been that these two had acquired an unbreakable hold on the market. But last week, Omnicom Media Group stunned the sector by announcing it was shifting its £140 million outdoor spend out of Posterscope and into Talon Outdoor, the previously minor outfit headed by Eric Newnham, the former Kine-tic global chief executive. OMG has also taken equity in its new partner. Could this be outdoor’s milestone moment?

Colin Gottlieb, the chief executive EMEA of OMG, points out that the outdoor medium is evolving fast, and the challenge is to be well-placed to take advantage. He explains: "We are seeing some of the big high-tech firms [such as AOL, Facebook and Google] looking to pioneer multi-screen research. The question is, therefore, how this can be extended to out-of-home."

However, Glen Wilson, the managing director of Posterscope, argues that existing specialists are already well-placed to make the most of the digital revolution. He states: "We have focused on building an out-of-home proposition designed for convergence and built for speed. Last year, we created more than 100 campaigns that leveraged the out-of-home ecosystem."

Meanwhile, Nick Mawditt, Kinetic’s global director of insight and marketing, welcomes increased competition, but says some observers still have an outdated view of the trading landscape. He adds: "The notion of a duopoly has never been an important part of Kinetic’s USP, which is about sophisticated planning tools and understanding audiences on the move."

Roy Jeans, the chief executive of Rapport, concludes: "Outdoor is an increasingly important media channel, and large agency groups subject it to a greater focus. [The OMG move] is interesting in the context of Postar 2 research due out soon. That has already sparked a data-mining arms race and we’ll continue to see people investing to make the most of the new data."

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