Booming online companies boosted outdoor sales by almost pounds 13
million in 1999, according to a survey from Outdoor Connection.
Poster pundits have been trumpeting the marriage of the oldest and
newest advertising media for several months (Media Business, 29
November), and this survey confirms that internet start-ups are pumping
millions into posters.
Online companies’ spend on outdoor rocketed to pounds 12.9 million in
1999, compared with just pounds 980,000 in 1998. A breakdown of the
spend revealed that it had grown rapidly throughout the year. In the
first quarter it was only pounds 750,000, but this climbed to pounds 1.2
million in the second quarter. This then increased to pounds 4.8 million
in the third quarter and finally rocketed to pounds 6.3 million in the
Online auction house QXL.com was the biggest spender, ploughing pounds
2.2 million into six-sheets. Freeserve came second with a six-sheet
spend of pounds 1.3 million, and in third place was Thetrainline.com
with a spend of pounds 1.1 million, all of which fell in the last
In category terms, it was the e-retailers that accounted for the largest
chunk of spend - pounds 5.2 million. ISPs accounted for another pounds
2.5 million; e-travel companies spent pounds 1.9 million, while online
entertainment and media companies spent pounds 1.5 million.
In total, more than 70 online companies invested in poster space.
Six-sheets were their favourite format, accounting for 48 per cent of
the total spend, while 48- and 96-sheets attracted 24 per cent and buses
and other formats took around 9 per cent of the spend.
Andrew Allerton, director of Outdoor Connection, was bullish: ’What was
a small trickle in 1998 has suddenly become a raging torrent of new
revenue for the outdoor sector. And what great timing - with tobacco
advertising beginning to ebb.’
He said he believed online revenue would continue to fill the poster
industry’s coffers next year. ’As a sector it definitely looks as if it
will be sustainable.’
But he did add a cautionary note: ’It will create some serious planning
issues because it will be harder to predict than other sectors. If a car
manufacturer is producing a new model, you know when it’s going to
happen, and how big the ad campaign is likely to be. You don’t know any
of that stuff when it comes to the dot.coms. It might be a sustainable
market, but there’s going to be a lot of churn.’
A Henley Centre spokesman said the online boom in outdoor made complete
sense. ’Increasingly the consumer’s world is built on intangible or
virtual service lines. The beauty of outdoor as an advertising medium is
that it is firmly placed in the real world. This means it can lend a
public face on the street to virtual brands.
’It effectively acts as a signpost, capturing people’s attention and
pointing them elsewhere.’