Once a week, but never weak

“That Missing Link”

By Nick Coston, US sales director, Neuron; Art lover

We have come a long way in OOH media. When you first started in the industry, around 2001, there was no DOOH, no pDOOH, no weekly impressions based on multiple factors, and of course no “buy by wire” like we do now. We now have faster ways to keep more screens, more products, more displays and copies. We’ve made some incredible limitations in both the television and online industries, people are starting to confuse us. We should be very proud of ourselves.

Or we should.

We’ve shaken our chests at the last few OOH conferences, are we really into another “outdoor golden age? When was the last? Did I miss it or was it long ago? And is that a phrase we want to use in 2022,” a Golden Age “? When I think of that word, I think my grandparents are dancing in big bands, men wearing derby hats and Al Capone. Of course, there was a ton of billboards, they were everywhere. Or was the main outlet to hype the service. If you did not have a billboard you would probably use the local newspaper. The percentage of ads outside was much higher than 5 to 7% of our current total advertising because there were no other outlets, so maybe by number it was “golden”.

Even with all the advances in our industry, we face stiffer competition from newer products than ever before. Online digital, satellite radio, podcasts, multiple cable networks and the most serious competition, mobile phones. I don’t even need another computer, I can write a novel on my cell phone, buy an airline ticket, balance my checkbook, download a recipe for dinner, binge-watch breaking bad, screaming in a call. Text with my wife, and my brother about sox games. That’s Chisox, remember. I’m even using my cell phone to write the part you are reading now.

My point is, this is the real competition. And while we’ve done a lot in the last 10 to 20 years, our industry still needs to accelerate. We need to keep proving that we are not just one advertising tool after another, but one to more formats. Numbers matter. We are definitely on the right track.

So while we’re probably in another golden age outside, I find that phrase grossly counterproductive. It screams “Look, we’re really old school, we’re not kidding at the moment, grab that flapper dress, pile on the ol ‘packard and run to the dance hall. Don’t forget a packet of Marlboro Reds.”

Here we are, trying our best to advance our industry using new technologies, bright screens, full motion spots, sound, 3D, the ability to change the copy at the minute notice, and we are using the term “Golden Age”? What is the average age of a media planner? Did they hear that phrase? “Age” is not in their minds.

Imagine if the radio and all its new descendants started using the word “golden age” to describe where they are and where they think they should be. They are all committed. Why do you want us to go back in time using such a phrase when in reality we have made so much wonderful progress?

There are many more terms or phrases you can use, maybe “renaissance”, or “resurrection”, or even “resurrection”. But the “golden age”? I have a headache.

We can do better. We’re in a business where words mean things, people pay attention to what we say, they want to see and hear good copy. Heck, we award the best copy every year. With all these bright minds and some of the best advertising agencies in the world, do we reuse the term “Golden Age”? Can’t we do better? No one wants to jump into the “Way Back Machine” right now, when we’re pushing the envelope of all the new technology at our disposal.

There are so many talents in our industry, both in OOH companies and firms, that Lord, please God! Someone comes up with more exciting phrases worthy of the 21st century to describe where we are and where we are going as an art. “Golden Age” I’m afraid it’s not.

We’re almost there. I don’t know what that missing link is that could take us to the next level, but I like all the talent around us. Chances are it’s not just one link but a few. We will find them through more inclusion, by pushing the creative, by pushing technology and by jumping on some of the beliefs.

Please heed my advice. I don’t want to learn Charleston again.

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