Ocean Outdoor launches in ‘key’ German market

Ocean Outdoor launches in ‘key’ German market
Bleakley (left) and Samsinger

Ocean Outdoor has appointed Christopher Samsinger as CEO of a new German office.

He is tasked with “the strategic expansion” of the business and growing share of advertising revenue for digital out-of-home (DOOH).

The initial focus will be on expanding Ocean’s presence in 20 retail and leisure destinations operated by European retail giant Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW). The long-term partnership between URW and Ocean means the media owner already has exclusive OOH advertising rights in the UK, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The launch of Ocean Germany will start in URW destinations in Oberhausen and Hamburg. Europe’s largest retail centre, Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier, is set to open in April 2024.

Analysis: Why Germany and why now?

Over the past 15 years, Ocean has expanded its footprint in the UK, the Nordics and the Netherlands.

Speaking to The Media Leader, Tim Bleakley, Ocean’s group CEO, said Germany is “Europe’s key advertising market” for two reasons.

First, it is one of the largest advertising markets in Europe, therefore representing “a strong market opportunity”.

Secondly, OOH has a double-digit share of the German ad market — a bigger portion than in some other European countries such as the UK, making it “a very, very strong OOH market”.

While Bleakley did describe Germany as “a tough market”, Ocean saw the Überseequartier site as “an opportunity for us to take the leap” to launch an office, with the support of a long-standing landlord partner with whom Ocean has “a track record of success”.

Ocean will continue to outsource small-format programmatic to media saleshouse Goldbach, but will now directly manage sales and marketing of large-format assets.

Bleakley added: “We’re starting from a very, very small base. We’re not in a rush. We’ve got a plan and we’ve brought in Christopher’s market expertise. He’s going to build a German business with Ocean support and investment.”

Last year, Ocean went through a restructure, promoting Phil Hall from joint UK managing director to UK CEO, sitting alongside Anders Axelsson, Nordics CEO, and Xavier Tilman, Netherlands CEO.

Challenging market

Samsinger said: “Ocean’s expansion into the German market will enrich the media landscape, opening up new horizons. Our investment emphasises the attractiveness of the German market and underpins the company’s ambitions to further revolutionise premium DOOH, working in tandem with our partners.”

He will have plenty on his plate. Germany’s economy has been in a downturn, with German finance minister Christian Lindner describing the country at the World Economic Forum this week as “the tired man of Europe in need of a strong cup of coffee”.

Other major OOH media owners in Germany include Wall (a subsidiary of JCDecaux) and Ströer.

At the World Out of Home Organization Global Congress last year, Christian Schmalzl, Ströer’s co-CEO, told delegates that the German market had “gone through some difficult times”, with the ad market down by 7%. 

That said, looking at OOH specifically, classic OOH was “stable” while DOOH was growing 27%, he noted, adding: “There is no other medium at the moment that has that kind of momentum.”

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