It is for the most part a sector in rude health with revenues rising and almost all the main players, both large and small, continuing to invest heavily in new digital inventory, research and marketing.
The plan appears for there to be a lean team remaining to focus purely on the necessary, but more prosaic, industry issues around digital standards, voluntary codes, liaison with the AA and other tasks that require the collaboration of the major vendors and often the specialist agencies as well.
It’s a shame Outsmart isn’t able to see to a conclusion some of its more ambitious plans. However, commercial reality, the sheer diversity of OOH formats and the resulting absence of a common framework that qualitatively underpins bus sides and 6-sheets (or premium roadside screens and escalator panels), for instance, meant that true alignment and consistent messaging was never going to be easy.
OOH isn’t like other media. And that's a good thing. Advertisers increasingly embrace outdoor for the wealth of options it offers, as brands seek to connect with consumers on increasingly active journeys, finding value, context, relevance and scale in the sector's diversity.
Unlike TV, digital display, press or radio, we are not all trading the same agreed formats or spot lengths. With many vendors representing specific formats, this unsurprisingly makes it harder to agree a common goal or consensus around promoting the medium as a whole.
Advertisers increasingly embrace outdoor for the wealth of options it offers, as brands seek to connect with consumers on increasingly active journeys, finding value, context, relevance and scale in the sector's diversity.
However, those complications are not a barrier to the medium. OOH specialist agencies like Kinetic solve these issues by unifying the myriad opportunities this effective and powerful medium offers into cohesive plans and executions for the benefit of our clients.
Crucially it's worth reiterating the importance of the world class audience measurement and planning currency Route which is financially underwritten by both buyers and all major sellers and is about to enter a new phase bringing the finer granularity of data needed for trading digital OOH.
The whole episode does beg the question, what effect media trade marketing bodies and their activity over the short and long term have on advertising revenues for the sectors they represent?
When I set up the Newspaper Marketing Agency, now Newsworks, with Stephen Miron and Richard Webb in 2004, it was in response to the separation of newspaper ad revenue growth from GDP growth caused by the advent of the internet.
The competition for ad revenue was not the other newspapers, as was previously believed, it was a whole new emerging sector, and other sectors, like TV. As media proliferated, so did advertiser choice. This is even truer now than then. I was also involved during my time in commercial radio with the Radio Centre and the RAB.
It was received wisdom there that the medium had to be marketed as a whole and the organisation had widespread support, due to its perceived success during a time of great expansion in radio market share in the '90s, although there was always `healthy and robust debate` over strategy, tactics and outcomes.
Can media trade bodies really offset long term negative trends in media sector ad revenues or just add topspin to existing positive trends? Or is it really all about the changing media consumption patterns of consumers?
While there will inevitably be a wide variety of opinion it's a question we can never truly know the answer to as the alternative cannot be tested at the same time.
There is ample evidence of effectiveness and no shortage of opportunity in the OOH sector with its growing audience, so it is up to all the stakeholders now to leverage their sales and marketing teams like never before and keep in mind who the true competitors for revenue really are.