Digital out of home: lagging, but set to lead

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 10 June 2015

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The world might be going digital and connected but Adshel CEO Rob Atkinson says that Australia is “lagging behind” when it comes to the take-up of digital out of home (DOOH).

However, rather than a problem, Atkinson told AdNews this has paved the scope for a huge amount of opportunity for the industry.

“We've got a long way to catch up but it's good news because I think there is demand, and I think there is interest for it, we’ve just got to make the investment to get there,” Atkinson said.

“We're starting to see much more acceptance of digital right across the board and we're starting to get critical mass. People are starting to understand its capability and what you can do with it. And that, I'm convinced, must draw money from other segments – you've got to believe that.”

OMA figures found that digital out of home revenue in Australia was sitting at 21% of the market, while in the UK, Posterscope UK found that the industry has roughly 27% digital penetration.

Posterscope Australia MD Joe Copley said that while Australia is a long way behind more developed markets like the US and the UK, there are local strengths in other areas.

“In many other markets around the world the ability to use DOOH at scale exists only in one or two cities, whereas Australia is very close to being able to use DOOH at scale in five capital cities all at the same time,” Copley said.

“In the US and in parts of Europe and the UK networks are concentrated in major cities and those cities have a smaller proportion of the population.

“From that perspective, in terms of reaching the 70% of people who live in metros areas with DOOH, we're up there or possibly even be ahead of other DOOH markets.”

Scale is one of the things Atkinson said Adshel is eyeing off when it comes to its Australian investment. The company is currently rolling out its Adshel Live network of 35 roadside digital billboards across Auckland, with plans to build a national Live network in Australia as well.

Atkinson said while scale will be the focus of both Adshel's New Zealand and Australian investment, the way it will be approached is markedly different between the countries.

“In Australia, we decided with small format you needed to get either an eastern seaboard or a national footprint in order to build scale,” Atkinson said.

“New Zealand is different because the majority of people live in Auckland, so you can have an Auckland only network and that's where most of the money spend in media is.”

“At the time of the announcement we've sold 70% of the inventory upfront from the launch, but I'm expecting it to be higher when the flick the switch in June.

“To me, that's a testimony to the fact that there is interest and that people are crying out for that type of inventory because it doesn't exist at the moment. The beauty of New Zealand is that Adshel Live is going to be the only scalable OOH assets in that city.”

The other benefit Copley sees in terms Australia's roll out of DOOH is being able to learn from the digital roll-out of assets that have happened in other countries that might be further down the track.

“There is an advantage for media owners and vendors in Australia in that they can learn from DOOH development in other markets,” Copley said.

“We're venturing onto new ground but we do have some learnings from other markets which can be drawn from.

"None of those learnings are 100% guarantees because the consumer has changed so much in the last five years since the development of DOOH in the UK for example, but there are at least some learnings there.”

Interested in the out of home space? Be sure to check out the Special Report in the next edition of AdNews in print - out this Friday. Click here to subscribe.

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