Living in the Great Indoors
We were of the optimistic ones, thinking this would happen in 2020, but here we are - 2016 and the figures say it all. We are talking about the major shift to digital in the outdoor sector where the old bill poster, which entails printing and sticking has become redundant. The reasons for this shift are many, some very obvious, others not so.
First, let us start with the good news. A new study released recently from Outsmart, the marketing body for Out of Home (OOH), reveals that OOH activity drives +17 percent uplift in smartphone brand actions. The results also show that the uplift in smartphone brand action increases to 38 percent among the top 20 best performing campaigns within the study and even higher for Millennial and Gen Z audiences.
Results demonstrate that OOH converts brand advertising into brand behaviour, revealing 66 percent of smartphone actions are direct to brand, such as a search query or website visits. Furthermore, 57 percent of respondents who took action were new or lapsed customers, highlighting the power of OOH for brands seeking growth by reaching a wider group of consumers beyond the core buyer.
The other good news, is that for Clear Channel, one of the UK’S premium OOH players, its operations will generate more than 50 percent of its revenues from digital displays this year, the first time that digital has surpassed other OOH advertising means.
The figure illustrates the huge leap, which the company has made with its digital billboards. In 2015, its digital
July/august 2016 displays generated 30 percent of its UK revenues, which in 2009 was just two percent.
William Eccleshare, chief executive of Clear Channel’s operations outside of North America, described the shift as a “digital tipping point” and added that “It’s transformational in how we think about the business.”
Actually, players in the OOH field scolded us for having an erroneous negative feel on the sector; they insisted it is booming and is still “cheap” as a sector due to its wide reachability and insured us that so much development is happening.
However, a naked eye observation, shows that Ramadan ads – which came and went – are still there, concerts long held are still plastered and major unipoles sitting atop busy intersections are empty or have not changed for months on end. Ten years ago, it was estimated that to make a campaign “visible” one must have 650 billboards across town. Today, we spotted a campaign with two – yes two – billboards on the way leading to Beirut.
"It's the economy, stupid!" - is a slight variation of the phrase "The economy, stupid," which James Carville had coined as a campaign strategist of Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush. The economy is indeed so bad, the market so tight, no one is actually investing in anything and advertising is the best barometer for economic recovery, and since no one pitched it, this means we have a long road ahead to walk.
Figures of comparison on year to year basis indicate little or no difference in the billboard sector (with television still taking the lion’s share); yet, there was Ramadan and especially the municipal and mayoral elections. Even those two events could not push figures up despite them being back to back.
Sources exclusive to Arabad revealed that one of the major outdoor players, namely Groupe Plus, is merging with two smaller entities. Mergers are indicators that money is drying up in the market, as what happened when two main Internet providers, Cyberia and IDM did in the past when they realised the money was running-out.