Striking the right balance between classic (traditional) Out-of-Home (OOH) and all-conquering digital is one of the keys to sector growth for the medium, said World Out-of-Home Organization president Tom Goddard at WOO's Global Congress in Toronto.

OOH has recovered strongly from the pandemic when, added Goddard, sales "sank like a stone," but, like other main media, is still losing ground to the digital tidal wave. Classic OOH accounts for 63% of revenues worldwide despite the rapid growth of digital OOH.

Striking such a balance would create another "Golden Age of Out of Home", said keynote speaker Sean Reilly, CEO of Lamar Advertising.

Asking delegates (who included the world's biggest OOH media owners, advertisers and agencies) to "show some love," Goddard said, "Digital is an area where OOH continues to perform strongly and the focus of billions in investment. But we shouldn't forget the other key strand of Out-of-Home — classic."

"We can rightly sing about the growth of digital OOH and programmatic trading, but when we factor in the fortunes of classic OOH I am reminded of my school report which all too often said, 'Doing fine but could do better'."

The congress, the first such in-person event since Dubai 2019, brought together 400 delegates from all over the world, despite:
  • Covid-19 related travel difficulties that impacted intended delegates from China in particular
  • stiff Canadian visa measures, and
  • storms further north in Canada which affected some flights.
Among the issues discussed in depth were:
  • 'Programmatic', and 'What clients want from OOH' (both sessions moderated by Brendon Cook)
  • 'The changing macro-media landscape where e-commerce increasingly rules'
  • 'The increasingly critical topics of sustainability (from WFA global head of marketing services Rob Dreblow), and
  • 'Diversity and the way digital OOH amplifies social media in real-time to great effect'.
The seismic changes in the post-Covid media world were analysed in-depth by Christian Von den Brinken, strategy and innovation lead at Ströer and PHD's Rohan Tambyrajah with Talon's Adrian Skelton.

The leaders of the United States 'Big Three' Jeremy Male of OUTFRONT Media (alongside 'Kappy’ Kaplan of Kinetic) and Clear Channel's Scott Wells joined Lamar's Reilly at Congress. Anna Bager of the United States OAAA described the valuable work of national associations and the work they were doing under WOO's aegis in helping recovery from the pandemic and readying OOH for the future.

There were two uplifting presentations from Dentsu International, including a keynote from head of global solutions and innovation Jeff Greenspoon on the macro-economic picture. The other was from head of Amplfi Global Ben Milne on what media agency planners really want from OOH. Ocean CEO Tim Bleakley gave a call to action on the true value of Out-of-Home.

WOO members in Ukraine joined delegates with a video, taking valuable time out to show solidarity with their industry in the midst of the conflict in their war-ravaged country.

In a major industry development, Gideo Adey and Neil Eddleston outlined a new set of best practice guidelines for the industry — 'realising the value of DOOH audience measurement' — a long-awaited and necessary template for a new digital-dominated world.

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