Outsmart, the UK’s out of home media marketing body, is cutting back dramatically as efforts to persuade French-owned OOH giant JC Decaux to join have foundered.
JCD pulled out of Outsmart’s predecessor the Outdoor Media Centre in January 2015 and recently decided to join the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) instead, reflecting its heavy focus on digital posters and screens.
High profile CEO Alan Brydon and chairman Mark Craze are leaving. There will also be some redundancies among Outsmart’s recently expanded team. Brydon and Craze both held senior posts at Havas Media Group in the UK before joining Outsmart. Clear Channel UK CEO Justin Cochrane will take over as chairman. He says a reduced Outsmart will become a “trade association with a focus on broader industry initiatives.”
Brydon and Craze say: “We are proud of what the team have achieved in a short space of time and delighted at the revenue growth being achieved by the medium. We are sad and disappointed at the situation but remain passionate about the wonderful power of OOH.”
In common with most media sectors out of home has seen a high degree of consolidation in recent years with a few players – JC Decaux, US-owned Clear Channel and Exterion Media (formerly CBS Outdoor) – dominating the big contracts like Transport for London’s bus and underground. Although the medium as a whole has done well in the UK the big players are under pressure to make their heavy investment in such contracts pay.
With post-Brexit cutbacks on the agenda Outsmart seems to have been deemed by some to be too ambitious and expensive.
My spies tell me that JC Decaux non-membership of Outsmart was not the main issue in its demise. Rather it was Exterion Media owner Platinum Equity’s reluctance to pay its share of the not inconsiderable Outsmart costs. Exterion may also be reviewing its contribution to the industry-wide Route research it seems, which would be big blow for the UK OOH business. The plot thickens..we’ll keep you posted.