WOO president: OOH needs more measurement and adtech

WOO president: OOH needs more measurement and adtech
Goddard speaking at the WOO Global Congress in 2023

“The future is rosy. I wish I was 30 years younger.”

These are the words of Tom Goddard, who is staying on as president of the World Out of Home Organization (WOO), speaking about the future of OOH ahead of its annual global congress.

Goddard has been on quite a trip recently. In the past three weeks, he has been banging the OOH drum at conferences in Mexico City, San Diego and Toronto.

This year’s WOO Global Congress is taking place in Asia-Pacific for the first time, launching in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

“APAC is the fastest-growing area in OOH and is also the largest region,” Goddard explained.

There will also be “a few major differences” in terms of topics covered at this year’s event, which will examine the key drivers and drags in the industry.

What’s holding OOH back

Two areas in particular require more focus, according to Goddard. They are investment into audience measurement and developments in adtech — two things that are currently “dragging the industry back”.

“We are not investing enough in measurement and data, and we’re starting now and I think we are at a tipping point”, he said.

For Goddard, markets like the UK with Route and Australia with Move, are the “gold standards on measurement”, but there are “large areas of the planet” that either have audience measurement that “does not muster in terms of efficacy” or no audience measurement solutions at all.

On the adtech side, Goddard recognised the amount of investment on the sell side, but said it was “too fragmented and not co-ordinated enough”.

He continued: “We still have a lot of silos in our adtech make-up and we need to have bigger tech platforms that talk to each other that are compatible and the ability for us to market large audiences fast and efficiently.”

There is “a disconnect” between sell side and buy side, where “the machines are not talking to each other”. Goddard added: “That means that it is still expensive to buy OOH — certainly more expensive than it should be and could be.”

Retail media ‘very good opportunity’

In terms of driving the industry forward, Goddard pointed to the “explosion in retail media” as a new area the conference will examine.

One reason for the explosion is the impending cookie deprecation, but another is retailers operating at low-single-digit profit margins shifting to a space where margins can be up to 80%.

With financial and travel media networks launching, Goddard sees retail media as having “morphed into something broader” and “a very good opportunity for the OOH industry”.

Citing Woolworths Australia’s $150m purchase of retail digital media company Shopper Media Group, he said: “To see retailers actually stepping outside their core businesses into OOH media is another demonstration of the confidence they’re seeing in the opportunity.”

Sustainability ‘accelerating’

At the same time, WOO is also “accelerating the message” around sustainability.

The organisation is working with the World Federation of Advertisers and Ad Net Zero and there is “more work to be done”, Goddard stressed.

In particular, he there is “ground to make up” as the number of brands and ad agencies that have “a scientific roadmap” to get to ad net zero is higher than the number of media owners that have a similar plan.

AI’s role in OOH

WOO has also dedicated a session at the conference to AI and its applications for OOH.

Stephen Joseph, Ocean Outdoor’s incoming group CEO, will be giving a presentation on how AI is being used to further Ocean’s business in various markets.

Goddard compared the current focus on AI with discussions around the metaverse three of four years ago, except that the metaverse is barely mentioned in conversations now.

He said: “Some people are saying to me: is AI going to be in the same basket? I think absolutely not. I think this is real.”

Moving in the right direction

Previously, Goddard’s rallying cry was for OOH to reach a global adspend share of 10%, up from its current 5%. This target remains for WOO.

But why 10%? In terms of impact and effectiveness, and the eyeballs and demographics that OOH delivers, this is where the medium “really should be” and the price it “should be earning at”, according to Goddard.

He added: “If we get to the 10% mark, our revenues will have doubled and our profits should have at least kept pace with that, and that will give us more investment cash to put into adtech and measurement and people.

“It also gives us the opportunity to sit higher up at the top table in terms of brands and media planning, [and] will give us a better chance to interrupt the rush to online that seems to be inexorable.”

Goddard revealed that WOO’s 2023 global survey will show “very impressive growth figures” in terms of share of adspend and double-digit revenue growth.

“There are many reasons why we are really keen to get to that 10% marker and we are certainly now moving in the right direction,” he said.

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