Gregory: 'long held the suspicion that OOH punches below its weight'
Gregory: 'long held the suspicion that OOH punches below its weight'
A view from Shaun Gregory

Why the transformation of outdoor is only going to accelerate

With change in the air, Shaun Gregory, chief executive of Exterion Media, considers a pending overhaul of under-performing Outdoor Media Centre (OMC) to be a great opportunity.

Earlier this week, it was announced that there will be a full strategic review of the Outdoor Media Centre (OMC). The current chairman revealed it is taking an opportunity to fully evaluate the role of the OMC, a move I believe the Out Of Home (OOH) industry should welcome.

Furthermore, McKinsey & Company released its 2014 Global Media Report last week, the second time it has published an overview of current trends in the media landscape. A great deal was made of the growth certain areas of the media are experiencing, with the main drivers pinpointed as digital technology, connectivity everywhere and evolving devices.

Nowhere is this transformation being felt stronger than in the OOH sector. Despite the advent of many other forms of advertising, over the last five years OOH has been one of the few channels that has not only held firm, but seen the most growth. In fact, the report highlights that OOH is one of just four segments within the media sector to have shown growth of over five percent in 2013. 

McKinsey acknowledges the potential of industry and states it expects further share gains during the next five years as the reach of OOH continues to expand, thanks to the growth of digital assets that are increasing the effectiveness of inventory in more locations.

A great deal of work has undoubtedly gone into this report, but the truth is it is just one of many clear signposts that the OOH industry is going through a massive transformational period. Look at the OMC reshuffle. This has clearly come about as the opportunity to grow OOH slice of the advertising pie is suddenly clear to see.

Personally I’ve long held the suspicion that OOH punches below its weight and fair share of media spend. According to IPA Touchpoints, 41% of UK waking hours are spent out of home.

Yet, the OMC states that OOH only commands 9.8% of display advertising revenue. It’s imbalanced, so the question is how are we going to up our game and achieve this growth?

Much of it is down to educating clients, agencies and specialists about the medium. That’s traditionally been the job of the Industry Trade Body, but in truth its remits have somewhat changed over recent years.

With the emergence of digital, social and ‘earned strategies’, Trade bodies have had to evolve into being more proactively engaged with the advertising community. They have moved from being a ‘conduit of information’, to an essential ingredient for driving growth.

The OMC intends to do a ‘belt and braces review’, looking at how the sector can truly realise its potential in the UK. Not only that, but it will be facilitating all the conversations that will hopefully surface with the right changes we’re looking for.

We have to, as a sector, work more collaboratively to provide easier access to our medium and exploit the digital transition. We need to create more seamless ways to use technology in planning, optimising and measuring effectiveness.

And lastly, we need to look at how the medium works in a more expansive way, essentially moving into the worlds of the connected consumer and digital.

We are undoubtedly at a tipping point in OOH. Old media is being consigned to the archives and new media is increasingly available. This all sounds very exciting on paper, but making it a reality is down to us within the industry.

It’s why we’re set on providing a platform to partners, existing and potential, that enables them to take advantage of the technology and connectivity now available to them, and deliver compelling content that’s tailored to today’s bustling and transient audiences.

McKinsey is right to acknowledge the potential growth for the OOH sector in the next five years, but it’s not going to happen unless we adopt a "technology-first" approach. The changes are coming thick and fast, and the opportunity is a big one. As I see it, the OMC’s strategic review is perfectly timed, as our medium enters into a new period of sustained growth.

Shaun Gregory is chief executive of Exterion Media