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Shaping Outdoor’s Future

OAAA on the the meaningful trends in outdoor advertising



For every action taken to preserve the present, two must be taken to advance the future. Without such effort, stagnation is the only certainty. Still, had a soothsayer told me in 1995 what the face of outdoor advertising would have looked like today, I probably wouldn’t have believed him.

In 1995, it seemed unimaginable that ‘other’ out of home media would be part of the OAAA. Yet today, 38% of outdoor advertising revenue is comprised of ‘nontraditional’ formats (transit, street furniture, and alternative outdoor media) and such diversification has only increased outdoor’s appeal to advertisers.

In 1995, tobacco advertising represented 11% of total outdoor revenue, down from the 40% share it commanded in the late 70s. Yet by the turn of the century, tobacco was a faded memory, a lost revenue source that was quickly and surprisingly replaced by a whole host of new national advertisers.

In 1995, outdoor audience measurement was practically an oxymoron, with a 60 year old system of traffic counts still the main measure. Today, a fresh new TAB audit has just launched and several syndicated research companies have made deep investments in finding better ways to measure outdoor audiences.

In 1995, outdoor advertising was often on the defensive, protecting itself from amortization and content control assaults. Today, the industry is a proud economic force and a formidable opponent for any group who would tarnish its image.

Well here we are in 2005 and I can’t help but wonder what 2015 might look like. Certainly, there are signs on the horizon that suggest where we may go and in my view, they are incredibly bright. What does the crystal ball show?


That in 2015, outdoor advertising will leapfrog other media by developing more refined VAI audience measures, providing ‘likelihood to see’ measures and trumping the inferior ‘opportunity to see’ measures that are standard for advertising delivered within program content.

That in 2015, outdoor advertising can be sold in dayparts since digital copy changes will become standard for certain outdoor products.

That in 2015, outdoor advertising will be embraced for the many contributions it makes, as an economic catalyst, for its outstanding public service, and as the most effective and creative means for advertisers to reach the consumer.

That in 2015, a collective industry consciousness will insure that SOB ads, poor maintenance, and accountability issues are truly a thing of the past.

Naturally, we can stand back and let the future unfold or we can take the reins and steer a course, one that reflects our collective vision and largest aspirations. The industry has such an opportunity when it comes together for the OAAA National Convention and Trade Show on May 22-24 in Chicago. World class speakers will provide the fodder to stimulate thought and generate dialog that can help map the way.

As for 2015, no one knows for sure but we can certainly begin building the groundwork together. It will take collaboration and consensus among all facets of the industry. It will require appropriate investment in research and product development. It will mean sustained and focused effort in the legislative arena to enable innovation to happen.


Of course, we could take the easy road and sit back and watch the future unfold. We could, but seeing how far we have already come, I doubt we will.

I would be delighted to hear from you if you have industry predictions for 2015. I can be reached at [email protected] or via phone at 202-833-5566.



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