Richard Holliday Director of the Outdoor Advertising Association
The participation of outdoor specialists in the Postar research at last
gives the outdoor industry the opportunity to develop a true trading
currency. But this is only the beginning of the on-going development of
The latest moves in outdoor advertising research have the potential to
take the medium past its traditional threshold of a 4 per cent share of
the advertising market. Anyone who has been around the media world for
even a short time will be aware of the rivalries and politics that
surround industry research. The recent falling out at Rajar is an
example of what can go wrong. This is why all sides must now respond to
the challenges ahead.
When the Council of Outdoor Specialists announced it was joining the
poster industry’s new JIC - Joint Industry Committee for Poster Audience
Research, and were contributing funds to the research for Postar, some
people may have felt that this was just the specialist fraternity making
a gesture. It really is much more important than that.
For years outdoor had the only Joint Industry Committee on research that
was solely funded by the media owners - the poster contractors. Now that
the buyers are sitting around the same table, the industry has its first
real opportunity to develop a trading currency that begins to create a
justification process for buying and selling.
This is critical because developing an audience-led currency gives the
unsophisticated outdoor world of supply and demand a structure. The
audience-led research unit - be it a TVR or an ABC figure - helps
justify the price the advertiser is having to fork out for the audience
he/she is buying. In the outdoor industry, where average unit site price
has been the currency, negotiations were never about audience delivery
and value, but discount. As a result, there has traditionally been an
almost overbearing animosity between buyer and seller in outdoor. It is
natural that buyers should want to pay a low price for an audience and
sellers strive for the highest one possible.
This is not to say that similar tensions don’t exist in other media. TV
negotiations can be brutal. However, there is Barb and station average
price, and all sides will know how the deal was struck and what
audiences were delivered, so when they leave negotiations they can go
away and have a drink or three together.
As the number of media proliferates, the desire to understand the value
of audience delivered obviously becomes greater. Outdoor, as a passive
medium, needs a way of identifying and evaluating its audience perhaps
more than any other medium. The new currency provided by Postar will go
further than previous research by using a futuristic visibility
experiment to evaluate those people who pass a poster panel and whose
eyes alight on it.
This is why the specialists agreeing to take part in Jicpar and Postar
is important: it means the industry can begin to establish an audience-
led currency. It is a recognition by both sides that the maintenance and
improvement of the outdoor share of advertising revenue is dependent on
justification and negotiation techniques stemming from true, jointly
agreed, industry research. With this new agreed currency, outdoor can
take its place alongside other media-evaluation techniques and we can
get on with marketing the medium and selling its unique values.