Chris Freel: The Uncomplicated Complexity in OOH

As he approaches his first 100 days working in the out-of-home market, former UnLtd CEO and now group sales director at oOh!media, Chris Freel, shares why this so-called traditional media is anything but.

When I made the jump from UnLtd, the media, marketing and ad industry’s charity foundation, to the world of out-of-home, many people told me “It’s not as simple as you think Freelo”.
I’ve worked in the media sector for the majority of my career, with commercial roles at publishers and digital audio companies, but this is my first foray into outdoor. Now, three months in, and having spent a lot of that time looking under the hood, listening and learning, that advice was only partially true.

I had no expectations that out-of-home would be “simple” — the complexities of today’s modern media mean nothing is as straightforward as it once was if it ever really was to start with. The fundamentals of any media are of course the same, to connect brands with audiences and engage them at scale. But what’s clear, is that for a so-called ‘traditional’ medium, out-of-home is anything but.

The extent of technological innovation and creativity propelling the medium forward, coupled with advanced targeting, measurement, data and attribution capabilities, is phenomenal. As an unmissable and unskippable media, it’s not hard to understand why this “traditional” media is consistently outperforming other legacy advertising platforms that are being smashed by fragmentation.

So, with almost 100 days in outdoor now under my belt, here are some initial impressions why the fundamental attributes of out-of-home are very simple for advertisers wanting results.

There is no substitute for reach and out-of-home has huge reach potential across the country. Outdoor advertising is second to none for building reach and frequency and propelling brands into the public consciousness. With fragmentation of media more evident than ever, outdoor is the most effective and efficient way to achieve high reach, and frequency, quickly.

The power of one
Brand fame, exclusivity, ownership. Call it what you will, but the ability to be the only brand on some of Australia’s most iconic OOH sites is a huge opportunity for marketers. Digitisation is of course critical to the sector’s ongoing success, but static or classic advertising formats are still hugely effective. There is a reason for that. It’s not easy for brands to achieve cut-through, but having complete ownership across a huge network of billboards or street furniture is a very powerful way to do that. Whether it’s the silos in Sydney, the mean streets of Melbourne, or the airport in Brisbane, brands can own thousands of moments with millions of Australians every day.

Something for everyone
One area where out-of-home has excelled in recent years is providing advertisers and agencies with a plethora of formats with which to connect brands and audiences. There is an incredibly diverse portfolio of assets with fantastic solutions suitable for every brief. Whether it’s brand building, driving in store purchase, or full funnel solutions, OOH can tick every box. For example, as oOh!’s recent research into how business professionals are interacting within the office and airport environments shows, people are returning to offices and traveling more post-pandemic. There are great ways to capture attention, tap into people’s mindsets, and tailor creative accordingly across multiple assets from dawn til dusk.

It works
Whether it’s recall or sales uplift outdoor is proven to consistently deliver. We are growing because it is so effective and now demonstrably so. This will only continue with the launch of MOVE 2.0, which will add even greater sophistication to measurement.
oOh!’s outcomes measurement consistently shows strong results. Aggregated data from more than 60 campaigns reveal that FMCG brands using the oOh! network achieved a 16 per cent increase in customer conversion, 18 per cent increase in market share, and grew brand penetration by 26 per cent.  POLY, our innovation and creative hub, is also helping them to harness the power of creativity in unique and tailored ways such as the recent Pepsi live stream on ‘The Bourke” in Melbourne.

On a more personal note, I’m very fortunate to work alongside some of the best and brightest media brains and all-round great humans. One of the key reasons I joined was because of the great interactions I had with the oOh! team through my time at UnLtd. That has become even stronger since walking through the doors. Seeing how much the team cares about what they do, each other and their clients makes me very proud to work here.

What was once seen as a traditional medium, is no more. As an outdoor newbie, while some warned it wouldn’t be as simple as I thought, at its heart, out-of-home is refreshingly straightforward for advertisers, and it delivers what matters most, return on investment.