The outdoor media market is reacting differently now compared to the initial round of lockdowns last year, according to oOh!media CEO Cathy O’Connor.
The company just posted a 23% lift in revenue to $251.6 million for the half year to June.
The outdoor media company reports strong revenue recovery across key formats in Australia (Road, Retail and Street Furniture) and New Zealand. Road and New Zealand revenues performed ahead of pre-COVID-19 levels.
Cathy O’Connor says revenue for the September quarter is pacing 38% higher than the same period in 2020 and 74% ahead of the same three months in pre-COVID 2019.
“What happened last year was there were several negative weeks, effectively clients canceling more than they were booking,” she told AdNews.
“We haven't seen that dynamic at all this year, even with this latest lockdowns.
“The majority of customers that are talking to us about their campaigns are all seeking to move or delay.”
And oOh!media is talking audiences. “For example, if you have a client that was active in airports, you might propose a road, retail, street furniture mix,” she says.
Most advertisers take a wait and see approach.
“They know that vaccines are a pathway back to an environment that is freer. I think the optimism is better this year."
She describes advertisers as more responsive and less risk averse this time round.
But the market is still short.
“It’s a couple of weeks shorter but … there's still a lot of planning going on for Q4,” she says.
“As opposed to last year, where we had wholesale cancellations and no planning activity, we now have a sales force that is very busy working with briefs beyond next week and into Q4 and beyond.
“That also gives you an indication that brands are thinking about their own marketplaces and post lockdowns.
“Their ability to come out of the blocks in a very strong way, with a strong share of voice, to raise your competitive strength against your sector.
“There's a sense of pent up belief in the role of advertising to reset the world to what it was pre COVID, for brands to come out in a strong position.”
She gives the example of media sector ad spend in outdoor.
In the calendar year so far to the end of July, media sector ad spend in OOH is up 64% compared to 2019.
“That is also a byproduct of the media's own confidence in what they're seeing in their customer bases," she says. "So I think that's a really interesting lens on recovery.”
Pricing for OOH inventory is also higher.
“In 2020 most media saw some price attrition because of the environment we were working in,” she says.
“But that's really stabilised and the main focus for us is ensuring that we're positioning ourselves for the demand that we think will come when restrictions are eased.
“There's risks for any brand to be visible and not to come out strongly as the economy opens up.”
An indication of how interested the market is in the outdoor media company is the length of the Monday's briefing to analysts about oOh!media's half year results.
There were more questions than usual, mostly about prospects for the next six months.
“Some of our team said that it was probably the longest it's ever gone,” she told AdNews.
“Given that the sector has performed so strongly over the last 10 years and as the end, or the new normal, approaches, here's obviously a lot of interest in what that looks like (for out-of-home).
“That's a good thing for us. It means people are engaged and interested in seeking to understand.
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