EUROPE NEWS

UK: Bus shelters the future for digital advertising, says Clear Channel boss

Andrew Morley, chief executive of Clear Channel UK, said that interactive ads in bus stops will rival traditional billboards Digital and interactive advertising at bus stops and other busy locations will emerge as a much greater alternative to traditional billboards over the next five years, according to the British boss of outdoor advertising group Clear Channel.

Andrew Morley, chief executive of Clear Channel UK, said: “Outdoor advertising is becoming interactive, linked to mobile phones and delivered by digital technology. That’s where the industry is moving.

“We have the largest and most advanced digital network. This year, we have installed London Wrap, a network of 40 state-of-the-art digital screens around London, doubled the number of London sites of our sister brand Storm to 20 and rebranded our network of 100 central London small format digital screens on bus shelters as Adshel Live.

“That already makes London one of the most advanced outdoor digital advertising environments in the world and over the next year, we will be rolling out the Adshel Live digital programme to hundreds of locations.” Clear Channel UK employs 700 UK staff and has 60,000 advertising sites across Britain. It has held a contract to maintain more than 30,000 London bus shelters for Transport for London since 2005, selling advertising on 5,000 of the sites.

Tenders are being received by Transport for London for a new five-year contract. Clear Channel UK and its parent company Clear Channel International are part of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings (CCO), which has operations in 44 countries.

CCO is reported to be considering selling its European assets for up to $2.5bn (£1.6bn), with French rival JCDecaux said to be interested.

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UK: Why outdoor advertising is not just a visual amenity

The French city of Grenoble recently decided to ban outdoor advertising, thereby fulfilling its new Green party mayor’s pre-election promise.

Or rather they banned its billboards, since the city is locked into its street furniture contract for five more years. In the process it is voluntarily turning its back on revenues of half a million euros annually contributed by outdoor advertising, in favour of… trees. More trees will take the place of billboards, and in the process the city will be “reclaiming its public spaces”.

“The municipality is taking the choice of freeing public space in Grenoble from advertising to develop areas for public expression,” said the office of Eric Piolle.

The whole thing has an echo of Sao Paulo, which famously cancelled all outdoor advertising in 2006, reacting to what had in all honesty become a very cluttered and messy environment.

The resultant wasteland with advertising structures but no imagery was not much of an improvement, it must be said. So in 2012 the city relented and put out a tender for 2000 digital advertising faces which also display the time, temperature and air quality.

Could a ban, temporary or permanent, happen here?

There have been rumbles, in Bristol and elsewhere, to push through a similar initiative. These tend to be grassroots campaigns started out by left-leaning activists concerned about the pernicious effects of aspirational advertising on a cash-strapped and harassed public.

But they haven’t gathered pace. Bristol achieved 831 signatures on its online petition to ban outdoor advertising structures. Exeter achieved 185 – one person in every 600 or so.

Dear reader, I spirit you now to Edinburgh, where following the transfer of the city’s street furniture contract from Clear Channel to JCDecaux this summer, and months of fruitless negotiations with the city to effect a handover of their shelters, Clear Channel took the law into its own hands and removed three shelters overnight.

What a hoo-hah then ensued, with irate Councillors and a cold wet public up in arms – 'their' shelters had been stolen! Because that’s how it feels: the public has an inviolate right to safe, clean, dry, well-lit and well-maintained shelters. And a bit of advertising is a small price to pay.

Full article here

Finland: Finland takes outdoor alcohol ads off public space

A landmark 14-meter beer can that stands as an advertisement for a brewery near Helsinki is to be painted red within this year and cannot be claimed to be a beer can any more. The texts and logos on it are no longer visible.

The advertisement object, located along the highway to the north of the capital city, falls victim to the stricter Finnish law to take effect in 2015.

Advertising of hard liquor has been banned for decades, and the new measures will now apply to drinks with more than 1.2 percent alcohol.

Radio and TV advertising of mild alcohol drinks can continue but can only be aired after 10 p.m. instead of current 9 p.m..

The main intention of the ban on outdoor advertisement of mild alcohol products is to protect young people in particular.

However, ice hockey stadiums will be an exception. Beer logos will continue to be seen inside ice hockey halls, on players' clothing and the sides of the rinks. The Finnish ice hockey industry has been able to convince the law makers that the loss of the sponsorship money from the beer industry could be insurmountable. While advertising on newspapers and Internet continues to be admissible, Finnish companies maintaining alcohol related Internet sites must delete or block any customer praise of alcohol.

Finnish breweries have been bitter about the advantage foreign producers with Internet sites outside Finland will now have.

Senior Councilor Ismo Tuominen at the Ministry of Health and Social Services told national broadcaster Yle that further tightening of alcohol ads on Internet is a challenge. "One EU member country cannot change the Internet on its own so that there would be no advertising of alcohol," he said.

In Finland, only beers with less than 4.7 percent alcohol can be sold in normal stores, all alcohol beyond that percentage must be purchased in special state alcohol stores or consumed in restaurants. Alcohol is expensive in Finland due to heavy special taxation.

Finland has the highest tax on beer in the EU. A litre of 4.7 percentage beer attracts a 1.51 euro (about 1.86 U.S. dollars) tax in Finland. In neighboring Estonia the tax is only 30 eurocents. Citizens can, however, travel to low priced countries within the EU and bring in as much as they can carry.

There is no limit for a traveler on bringing in alcohol from another EU country as long as it is not for sale. In at least one easing of the rules, the state alcohol monopoly will be allowed to publish its price lists of hard liquor also on Internet. So far it has been allowed as a paper print only.

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AMERICAS NEWS

USA: Dealmakers turn their sights to US billboards

Billboards, which trace their roots to ancient Egypt, are set to generate a boom in US deal activity as the biggest operators seek to expand in regional markets, investment banking sources said.

Billboards are holding their own with local audiences even as attention slips for other sorts of regional advertising, such as ads in local newspapers facing circulation declines, or TV commercials that viewers increasingly are able to skip.

The four biggest publicly traded outdoor ad companies — Lamar Advertising REIT Co, Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc, Outfront Media Inc (formerly known as CBS Outdoor) and France’s J C Decaux — control more than half of the US outdoor ad market.

There is now a race to consolidate the rest of the industry, which is made up of independently run regional companies that are often owned by private equity funds.

The timing has to do with the big companies’ finances. Earlier this year, Outfront Media and Lamar were told by tax authorities that their outdoor displays qualified as property, allowing them to convert into Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). As REITs, the companies’ top executives have said they have more money to buy competitors and convert their signs to digital.

This has emboldened them to pay top dollar for deals. Outfront Media, for example, agreed to buy Van Wagner Communications, a privately held company with outdoor advertising in New York’s Times Square and on buses on the Las Vegas strip, for $690mn in July.

The company said it paid 10.8 times Van Wagner’s 12-month adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). The average multiple for US media deals is roughly eight to 10 times EBITDA, according to industry sources.

“It makes a lot of sense for the large companies to buy the small companies,” said Gabelli & Co analyst Brett Harriss. “The fact that Outfront would pay a big multiple for Van Wagner shows how much synergies a large outdoor billboard operator can bring to a local competitor.”

Being a REIT benefits operators such as Lamar and Outfront because it boosts their stock market valuation, giving them a more valuable currency with which to do deals. REITs also save money on taxes and have more cash to pay down debt.

Operators can charge premium prices for a billboard in the right place. In New York’s Times Square, renting a sign can cost more than $100,000 a month. In Los Angeles, prices range from about $10,000 a month to about $100,000 a month for a top spot. In the middle of the country, billboards typically rent for roughly $1,000 to $2,000 a month, depending on the location.

Private equity owners want to sell their outdoor assets while valuations are high. Fairway Advertising, for example, which is owned by buyout firms ACON Investments and MidOcean Partners, is close to being bought by GTCR for $550mn, sources said earlier this month.

Full article here

USA: More Digital Out-of-Home Ads Coming To Malls

Get ready for even more digital out-of-home advertising in malls, courtesy of mall owner CBL Properties, which is deploying a DOOH ad network to 30 large malls across the U.S., with plans to add another 60 malls before long.

The ad network will consist of digital interactive kiosks located in high-traffic areas offering shoppers wayfinding and directory information for stores and services using a touchscreen interface.

The kiosks, manufactured by Visionstate, will also feature a large screen carrying ads alongside the interactive display. CBL plans to hand ad sales representation responsibilities for the network off to a partner. The fourth-largest shopping mall real estate investment trust in the U.S., CBL operates 130 properties throughout the country, including enclosed and open-air centers, with the majority concentrated in the south and Midwest.

The CBL announcement caps another busy year for mall-based media. In September Adspace Networks announced the addition of nine new venues to its mall portfolio, bringing the total to 222 malls across the U.S. The latest round of additions included The Mall at Bay Plaza, the first new enclosed mall to open in New York City in almost four decades.

In June Adspace partnered with cinema advertiser National CineMedia and Cinema Scene, which reaches moviegoers in theater lobbies via its Trailervision network, in a joint selling agreement that will enable advertisers to create coordinated campaigns combining assets from all three networks.

Meanwhile, in October Eye Corp Media announced a strategic partnership with transit media company StopTips, making Eye Corp the exclusive ad sales representative for StopTips, including digital screens in station houses and associated businesses along the Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven line and Danbury branch.

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AFRICA NEWS

Nigeria: Taking Outdoor Advertising to the Next Level

The need to add more value and compete in the global marketing space has continued to propel advertising practitioners in the out-of-home sub-sector to innovate. Raheem Akingbolu, who witnessed the unveiling of the first 360 degrees rotational mobile billboard in Lagos, writes on the efforts being made by the local outdoor advertising practitioners to align with global standards.

The story of the outdoor industry is an interesting one any day. From a humble background, when practitioners paste posters on the wall, the industry has, over the years, evolved to become a major tool in the marketing mix. Little by little, outdoor advertising is dropping the toga of being seeing as a mere supporting platform for a more active and vibrant tool that can perform the function of an agent of recall. Today, the industry has grown beyond posters and planks into digital platform.

Since 2009, when the first electronic board was sighted on the street of Lagos, Nigerian consumers and brand owners have witnessed a lot of activities in the outdoor space. In what looked like the height of this year’s achievement in the sector, a unique platform tagged ‘MyBrandi’ was unveiled last week in Lagos by Audience & Brands Consulting. The platform, which comes in a four-face, hydraulic, is a 360 degrees rotational mobile billboard that could perform many functions and connect consumers in a different manner. As a result of its ability to perform both audio and visual functions, it caused a stir when it was displayed for Lagosians last week.

Beyond these functions, the platform is also designed to create an interactive platform for consumers, who want first-hand information about products or campaigns on display. Another unique technology that is noticeable as it operates is the fact that it can produce automated proof of display in addition to its audio-visual and street hypes features. Meanwhile its mode of operation makes it easy for one to view the screen from the closest range without distortion of the image to the eye.

The Managing Director of Audience & Brands Consulting, Mr. Mr. Oborgu Ugochukwu, who conducted members of the public and a few journalists round the platform said it was a product of a thorough research, which took place in the year 2012. According to him, the research revealed that there are people out there who are looking for a more active platform in the out-of-home where they can reach their audience more effectively.

Speaking on the various unique propositions of the new platform, Ugochukwu said it was conceived to boost the profile of outdoor platform from being a mere supporting platform to a vibrant tool that can go beyond serving as a reminding platform. He said: “It is a complete communication platform that can provide music opportunity, help brand owners to run their ad when it is static as in other electronic billboards.

Beyond this, one can get feedback and it can also be used for activation purposes. He pointed out that the rotational platform was though designed from Nigeria but built in Asia. According to him, this informs why Audience & Brands Consulting has exclusive right over it within and outside Nigeria.

Full article here

MIDDLE EAST NEWS

Saudi Arabia: All eyes on Saudi Arabia’s first outdoor art extravaganza

It has been on the news and if you have not been able to see it on the streets, then it has come up on your social media feed.

For those unaware of the burgeoning art scene in Saudi Arabia, a public outdoor exhibit brought the world's attention back to our homeland.

Curated by JWT Riyadh with Al-Arabia Outdoor the advertising firm behind the exhibition, the campaign is hailed as "the biggest art gallery ever seen in the Kingdom". Artists were invited to submit their work at www.alarabiaarts.com. The website is now reported to be the first with listing of artists in Saudi Arabia.

The campaign aims to promote undiscovered talent and art in the Kingdom using a public platform using outdoor sites. Hence converting outdoor billboards into large framed pieces of art.

Paintings have been displayed on the streets of Jeddah, on outdoor advertising billboards in Riyadh and other cities throughout the Kingdom. The campaign selected work sourced from 900 young artists on over 3,000 sites. "It is something new. For the first time, art is presented to the public," said Mohammed al-Khereiji, deputy chief executive, Al-Arabia Outdoor.

However, foreign media emphasising on the current event seems more infatuated with the conservative settings in Saudi Arabia as opposed to the first ever public art screening. It is no secret that the art scene in Saudi Arabia is growing like never before. The public art exhibit is a product of art appreciation in Saudi Arabia, represented by the growing community of local artists and upcoming art galleries.

Instagram: alarabia_arts

Website: www.alarabiaarts.com

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ASIA NEWS

Vietnam: Ad firms call new regulations “absurd”

About 70 percent of advertising firms in HCM City are expected to shut down in 2015 if current regulations are not amended.

Three months ago, the HCM City People’s Committee released Instruction No 25 stipulating that businesses’ signboards must not include their logos and brands of products. The director of an ad firm, calling the regulation “absurd”, said that if the regulation is not removed, the majority of ad firms in the city would “die” by 2015.

“Most of the signboards comprise logos and products’ brands, because this is a favorite way for enterprises to advertise their products,” he said. “For example, the signboard of a restaurant may have the logo of one beer brand, while the signboard of a grocery may show the logos of coffee and instant noodle brands.”

With the new instruction, the signboards placed over street facing houses will be fined VND10-15 million, if violating Instruction No 25. If ad firms delay in removing expired billboards, they will be fined VND10 million. Meanwhile, city authorities have stopped granting extensions to ad firms. “The fine is VND10 million at minimum for every billboard violating the regulation. This means that you will pay a fine of VND150 million for 10 billboards. The heavy fine and the high risk have made ad firms shrink back,” he commented.

At a recent meeting with a representative from the HCM City Culture & Sports Department, the 100 ad firms in the city were told that they still need to wait for the outdoor ad development program to be approved. The billboards approved by the watchdog agency prior to September 16 (the day when Instruction No 25 was released) can exist until the time stated in the license.

The extensions granted to billboards will be no longer than six months, until the HCM City People’s Committee approves the outdoor ad development program. Ad firms immediately disagreed with this instruction. The HCM City Ad Association sent a dispatch to city authorities, asking them to reconsider the instruction, including the provisions which are not in line with the Advertisement Law and the conditions of HCM City.

Do Kim Dung, deputy chair of the HCM City Ad Association, said the Advertisement Law does not prohibit ads on signboards. Meanwhile, Pham Ngoc Hung, deputy chair of the association, said many advertising firms were upset because their business has slowed down while waiting for the new outdoor ad development program to be released.

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India: Kinetic Worldwide launches full-service OOH division Kinetic Active in India

Kinetic Worldwide, the global agency in planning and buying out-of-home media, is expanding its Kinetic Active division into India ,China & Southeast Asia. Kinetic Active is a full-service creative and production shop with the purpose of raising the creative bar of out-of-home marketing.

It launched earlier this year in the US and UK and is already working with clients such as Argos, Dove and 3Mobile.

Kinetic Active provides in-house support, offering creative services, production, digital, experiential and special builds plus mobile activation and social engagement. This new division takes an innovative approach to creativity; beginning with the user and focusing on creating engaging and meaningful user experiences by utilizing the latest technology as a tool rather than a strategy.

Talking about the Active launch in India, Amit Sarkar, Chief Operating officer, Kinetic India added, “Active is unique platform which will help us further strengthen Kinetic position in the market place as the category leader. We now look forward to providing our clients with a full set of OOH services which will go beyond traditional OOH.” Both brands and audiences need to become “story doers”… rather than story tellers.

Kinetic Active will provide personalized and purposeful interactions in sync with the shift in purchase behaviour of consumers who are now buying experiences over brands/services. Micro engagement has become the key to conversions and winning the last mile. India Operations for Kinetic Active will be handled from Mumbai & Delhi currently and will be led by its General Manager ,Adil Khan & National Creative Director, Sommnath Sengupta ; they will work closely with the respective business leads across the country.

Kinetic Active India’s offerings will include a wide range of services ranging from creative, digital, innovations and technology.

“The majority of consumers’ time is spent outside their homes, so there is a huge opportunity to connect with them as they go about their daily lives,” said King Lai, CEO, Kinetic Asia Pacific. “Our aim is to entertain, inform and inspire people while they’re on the move, while in traffic, walking through an airport or onboard a train. We have a lot of fun discovering new ways to use media and technology to connect consumers with our clients’ brands – injecting humour, offering something useful or creating a memorable moment in someone’s life.”

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India: Kinetic wants to see OOH becoming integral to the media plan

In the second edition of our two-part series, we bring to you our interview with three of Kinetic Worldwide’s key executives—King Lai, CEO of Asia Pacific, David Payne, CEO of Developing Markets and Amit Sarkar, COO of Kinetic India. In the first part, we got the three to talk about India’s place in Kinetic and WPP’s overall strategy and the focus areas for the company going forward.

Continuing with the conversation; we talk about Kinetic’s future plans as well as how they plan to leverage new technologies to differentiate themselves from the competition. We also spoke about the likelihood of Tenth Avenue, the division which Kinetic belongs to entering the Indian market and what synergies would this create.

Which areas would you be concentrating on in the coming year?

David Payne: I think these would be in developing the right metrics, data and developing the right skill sets to make use of the data. Also, we will be constantly striving to improve our buying and planning output; our core business and then complementing that with a vision of the future.

Do you think consolidation will help the Indian OOH industry and do you see this happening in the near future?

David Payne: The evidence would suggest that consolidation is a process that serves the industry. Once the industry consolidates we can take more aggressive decisions on the challenges that we talked about. Whether it is going to happen or not I cannot answer.

How is Kinetic approaching digital OOH?

King Lai: Investments go hand in hand with revenue generation. Wherever there is an opportunity and a sensible client we recommend using digital and this is just not the panel that is digital but it is the whole idea of connectivity and interaction with digital enablement. We create a kind of strategic thinking communication plans for clients that leverage the unique attributes of digital formats. When we create the demand from clients, the media owners will see the quality there and they will make the investments in a manner that delivers the positive attributes of the format and make it available in the marketplace. So, more spends by clients in the format encourages media owners to invest behind making the format the better for others in the marketplace. This is how you get the marketplace to adopt a new format.

Cross-platform advertising is a concept that is picking up steam. How can outdoor advertising extend communication to other media?

King Lai: We would certainly like to see that because it is good for us. To answer the question directly, in every case we see that clients are driven when OOH is not applied at the edges; where OOH communications are integral part of the core communications plan. In media terms, if we talk about brand awareness as a combination of TV and OOH used in the right balance extends reach rather than using just one medium by itself and for much lower investment.

We talk about connectivity. We are now able to leverage technology to amplify communication beyond just reach and frequency metrics. How do you deepen engagement and connectivity? How does a campaign leverage OOH to extend into mobile and social amplification? These are the things we are building into our plans which we bring into the marketplace and I see that happening in India.

You spoke about a broader vision earlier. What are the other aspects of this?

David Payne: For me, it is the medium eventually which will grow and it is about how you use it to message in a very different way. And this might not necessarily be about doing the obvious things but figuring out how the consumer is, where the consumer, what the clusters of consumers are and then serving advertising to them. But not only through the device or phone they have in their hand; this is how things are changing. My personal view is that we are going to see fully programmatic buying and certainly much, much more automation. Technology driving the way out-of-home is bought and data driving the way OOH is planned and executed. I think this is going to happen a lot more. In my opinion if the industry, and this is not just about India, is able to achieve this then it will become the centre of the media plan because the evidence is that people do not sit at home, so the argument for making OOH centre of the media plan is stronger than ever.

As part of Tenth Avenue (A WPP division), when can we see the other Tenth Avenue companies entering India and what are the kind of synergies that we can expect?

King Lai: We work very closely with each other. Kinetic is focused on human-centric interaction on OOH. Obviously, one constant theme that is true to all the Tenth Avenue companies is that it crosses over or overlaps in media formats or content that is relevant to people as they go about their lives. So whether it is mobile, in case of Joule, we spoke about how mobile can be used to amplify messaging in OOH. It is our mission to have even deeper expertise so we can leverage mobile since we have such an expert in Joule.

We have Spafax, which focuses on in-flight content which is very crucial for us when it comes to airport and airlines, etc. Kinetic has a division called Kinetic Aviator, which focuses on travellers and so with Spafax we have a partner within Tenth Avenue which helps us enhance our understanding and execution of campaigns in this field.

Then we have Forward, which is into content. We haven’t touched much upon content in the conversation, but a company like Forward, which focuses on what is the most relevant content for a particular audience and how do you construct that content, is a great addition to the centerpiece of the entire communication plan.

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