Digital posters recovery leads booming UK outdoor media sector

Posters have come a long way since paper, glue and a wooden frame was all you needed to be an outdoor media owner.

In the UK at any rate the outdoor media sector is booming, led by so-called digital outdoor, moving images in and on everything from shopping centres to escalators on the London Underground.

Here’s a report from the excellent screens.tv

Digital outdoor advertising revenue in the UK passed £100m ($159m) for the first time in 2010, with 36 percent year-on-year growth signalling a return to buoyancy after a slow 2009.

The medium’s record-breaking revenues are driven by growth almost three times as fast as that of the overall outdoor market, which itself is performing markedly better than outdoor in the U.S.

At £101m for the calendar year, digital held an 11.4 percent share of the entire British outdoor-advertising market, according to the Outdoor Media Centre – the organisation until recently known as the Outdoor Advertising Association. Its members account for virtually all outdoor expenditure in the UK, suggesting its figures are broadly reliable.

Five years ago, in 2006, British digital revenue stood at just £30m. It climbed 40 percent in 2006-7 and then 57 percent in 2007-8 before slowing down to a 12 percent rise in 2008-9.

“We have recovered significant ground from the 2008-9 low point. It’s a step in the right direction but we are ambitious in terms of how much further we think we can go,” said the Outdoor Media Centre’s CEO Mike Baker.

Overall outdoor revenue, including non-digital, grew 12.5 percent in 2010 to reach £879.8m ($1.39bn).

By comparison, although the Outdoor Advertising Association of America has yet to release 2010 full-year figures, the U.S. market grew just 3.3 percent in the first three quarters.

“This is a good result for outdoor, rebounding from a difficult 2009, with strong results from brands such as [BSkyB], M&S and Aviva over the last year,” Outdoor Media Centre chairman and regional JCDecaux CEO Jeremy Male was quoted as saying.

Indeed, more than three percent of the entire sector’s revenue was provided by broadcaster BSkyB, which spent £30m ($48m) on outdoor in Britain in 2010.

“2010 was characterised by the return of big branding campaigns from the finance sector to restore consumer trust, while digital outdoor came to the fore for big national events,” Male added.

It’s also interesting to read that pay-TV operator BSkyB, currently Britain’s second-biggest advertiser behind Procter & Gamble, accounts for three per cent of the outdoor market on its own.

It’s great for the industry that Sky believes in advertising so much but this is yet another example of the awesome power it wields, something else for the Competition Commission to mull if News Corporation’s bid for BSKyB is ever referred to it by dithering coalition government culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.

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