To Sorrento where over 400 delegates from the global Out of Home industry are gathered at the 59th FEPE International Congress to discuss the medium and its challenges.
On the face of it most plants in the OOH garden are blooming: it’s the only traditional medium to have grown in the digital era and digital has played its part. Digital screens are already taking a big slice of OOH revenue in the UK, continental Europe and the US.
There’s a big Chinese delegation at FEPE for the first time and China will no doubt boost digital OOH significantly.
But four years ago Rupert Day of WPP-owned tenth avenue, which includes OOH specialist planner and buyer Kinetic, warned at FEPE that the biggest single thing holding back OOH as a global medium was the near impossibility of running a digital campaign on any number of competing “platforms” and that remains the problem now. As Annie Rickard, who’s just stepped down as global president of Dentsu’s Posterscope, observed: that’s not a problem for Facebook and Google.
If anything the problem has become more acute as programatic ad serving, some with a high degree of automation, becomes the norm in digital OOH.
FEPE president Tom Goddard of Ocean Outdoor (below), in headmasterly mode, observed that these issues were raised at last year’s Congress in Stockholm but that little progress had been made.
Rickard said that now was the time to put collaboration ahead of competition although that’s probably a bit easier to say now that she’s no longer running Posterscope.
OOH media owners compete furiously and each one wants a better platform. But that matters little to global advertisers and it’s an issue that a seemingly booming industry needs to address.
Another challenge for OOH mentioned by Rickard is connecting with adland’s creative community, particular regarding the possibilities of digital.
For creatives a poster campaign used to be the next best thing to a big TV campaign and in some cases it was better: awards were won and reputations were made.
But despite the billions being poured into ever more sophisticated screens there is still, across the piece, a shortage of outstanding campaigns using the medium to its fullest.
As Goodard said, with healthy dose of realism, it’s time for the OOH industry to look outwards as well as inwards.