Strengthening the Outdoor Industry – Experts Weigh In

In May of 2015, thought leaders and industry experts met in San Diego for the annual OAAA/TAB Convention. Watchfire Signs was able to utilize the wealth of knowledge in one location by hosting several discussion sessions on the current state of the outdoor advertising industry. Topics ranged from “Educating Advertisers to Maximize the Capabilities of Digital,” to “What I Wish I Had Known: Advice for New Digital Operators.”

In one of the first discussion sessions, Darrin Friskney, Watchfire’s Vice President of Digital Outdoor asked, “What can we do, collectively as an industry that would make us stronger?”

The experts agree that the process for purchasing digital outdoor is evolving. How the industry responds to these changes will significantly influence its revenue stream for years to come.

Nancy Fletcher, President and CEO at OAAA, makes note of the steadily increasing number of digital billboards each quarter. “I would like to see (billboards) integrated in some way to make it easier to buy (advertising), almost like broadcast.”

Other experts concur. Mike Norton, Executive Vice President at Norton Outdoor Advertising, believes that programmatic advertising is inevitable. “I think our industry needs to embrace that to a certain extent. (I)f that’s what the advertisers want and need, that’s what the advertisers will get.”

Programmatic advertising allows advertisers to purchase their digital space more directly, bypassing a traditional system of buying services and ad agencies. And while there is concern in the industry that increased competition might reduce revenue, Bill Ripp, Director of Lamar Digital with Lamar Advertising, sees programmatic purchasing as an inevitable result of market changes. “Right now it’s still pretty fledgling, but that’s temporary. I think that’s clearly the biggest opportunity in the industry right now.  As that develops, it may attract more clients and business than we have currently.”

Tony Tyler, Vice President at Tyler Outdoor, sees the changes as improving on collaboration between all parties involved, “What I’ve been able to see in the last three years is truly getting together with the buyers, with the planners. We’re going to the advertising agencies and we’re talking about it. How can we improve? We have a great dialogue now that I don’t know we have had in the past.”

Ripp sums it up this way, “If we could streamline the way we sell and make it easy for customers to buy, I think it would probably move the needle farther than anything else we could do. I think programmatic could be a very good thing . . . because it makes it easier to buy the product and that’s what we’re ultimately after.”