Unparalleled Excitement as Transformation to dominate Out of Home in 2019

Political uncertainly mixed with a real excitement for change as Out of Home undergoes genuine transformation; new players, new data platforms and new opportunities.

Unquestionably, Out of Home is an industry in the spotlight. The arrival of media group Global, genuine advancements in the use of technology, wider access and use of location data, and the potential for integration of digital and motion content are stimulating antidotes to political intrigue and social media woes as brands seek ongoing reassurance from their ad activity in changing times.

We can expect the following factors to make a significant difference in 2019 as we anticipate our time, and seek to take advantage of at least one new mantra, that rush hour is the new primetime.

Key Factors Shaping the Future of OOH

These include consolidation, convergence, politics, brand trust, the experience economy, data, technology and growth. This narrative is expected to maintain the momentum and progress we’ve experienced in 2018, characterised by growth, investment, expansion and huge change.

Consolidation. Global’s arrival will take time to bed in, but the move has made wholly positive waves. More consolidation will likely follow (Ocean remains ambitious to expand; Clear Channel’s Chapter 11 debt conclusion is likely in H1).

The immediate impact will see OOH as a more dynamic environment, with Global likely seeking to introduce more initiatives, ideas and cross-market selling. JCDecaux won’t stand still either, of course – already having consolidated rail network and Westfield retail contracts – and let’s also not rule out a more agile challenger brand scene with digital quality and flexibility benefiting.

Online convergence. The way the digital and social marketplace has unfolded will likely mean a considerable slowing of growth and the need for greater integration of channels across the digital spectrum. Genuine initiatives and insights around the OOH opportunity such as the 4th Space will enhance brands’ emotion-led strategies in video content and social media’s Stories. With clients applying more caution online and OOH demonstrating it can effectively connect with younger audiences – including the successful adoption of influencer strategies and avoiding prohibitive levels of TV inflation – it is increasingly apparent that integrated and context-led channel strategies that disrupt convention are the way forward.

Politics. As the Brexit conundrum unravels, will brand UK adopt a keep calm and carry on posture or a more chaotic and costly outcome? You’ll know more already when you read this and the media industry will navigate what is thrown at it, but there will be an effect.

Votes of confidence or General Elections will have their own effects on our trust in institutions and economic outlook. Brands will have to be agile and flexible to navigate changes in Government, policy and consumer trust.

Meanwhile, HFSS has dominated one political agenda, but the Mayor of London’s impulsive stance that pays little notice of the effect of advertising on this important social issue has created waves. The likely impact of the TfL ban is that brands will quickly adapt and TfL themselves will be forced to divert unnecessary energy to protect much-needed revenues with key partners. We are already seeing little overall change in likely OOH revenues, but creatively there will be a huge impact as branding battles activation in those locations. A clear understanding the regulation (from February) is paramount to navigate new conditions affecting 70% of London OOH formats.

Brand trust. The impact of politics, the rise of fake news and online brand safety, will ensure branding and reassurance remain top priorities for businesses seeking to re-engage with audiences. Brands will seek out the channels best placed to deliver stronger messages. Work from the IPA, Binet & Field and JCDecaux’s Brand Gap research showing the heightened relationship between branding and OOH has never been more relevant.

This ties in closely with the trend for Consumer Experiences. Digital OOH has a real part to play here, creating an opportunity for brands to showcase in the locations where money is spent. Try before you buy, collection and experience remain cornerstones of successful retailing, despite and because of the changes we are seeing in the retail space. Argos, for example, has changed the nature of its offer. Whilst it attracts 60% of sales through its digital offer; 80% is still physical location driven. The overlap is key. Digital and physical showing an integrated offer is the way forward, with the likes of Amazon Go a stronger model than some of the major retail recovery plans we’re seeing.

Automation and Data. New strategies around location and measurement will make OOH more accountable and location more (not less) important in planning and demonstrating return. Data will make smarter location planning supersede a universal drive to automation and programmatic, despite a proliferation of hype and automation platforms purporting to deliver effective OOH planning. There will be no race to the bottom in OOH as brands seek quality engagement and results for their campaigns.

More collaborative relationships between specialists and media owners around automation, site availability, accountability and playout reporting are now being accelerated and delivered in line with the OOH industry trends for consolidation and convergence, mentioned above. In fact, the maturity of digital is enabling better optimisation strategies and the industry is driving channel strategies where share of time changes and data-led location planning strategies are enabling longer campaign durations and greater efficiencies (more impacts, more coverage).

Growth. The bottom line is an encouraging outlook for OOH that beats our previous optimism. Digital growth, consolidation and further investment means OOH is now being talked about as a more dynamic channel. Rush hour is the new primetime, but without the audience inflation and fragmentation affecting other channels. Major aesthetic improvements to roadside, city centres and transport and shopping environments are driving growth forecasts and more creativity. But it is the progress we are seeing in the use of data, measured location planning and accountable automation that define the transformation factors that will keep OOH relevant, contextual and disruptive in times of external change and uncertainty.