Category Archives: International


I can’t say I’ve been all the enthralled by what I’ve seen so far with smart cities initiatives that involve digital out of home media companies. For the most part, they’re just digital posters with some wifi and maybe some sensors tossed in so the things can be called “smart.”

Those things exist to run ads, and the “smart” thing is largely a veneer to get the ad concession, and for city governments to get free stuff that purports to make their burg seem somehow innovative.

BUT … there’s a lot of potential there, and when you talk to someone who spends all his time thinking about and working on smart city initiatives, you learn there are some good things happening not only with broader smart initiatives, but also with efforts that DO involve media companies.

I wrote a mildly snarky piece recently about this stuff, and Gordon Feller sent me a note suggesting I have a look at a report he did for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. He’s a longtime Silicon Valley tech exec and founder of Meeting Of The Minds, a non-profit public-private partnership that’s all about creating smarter cities.

We had a frank talk about what’s happened to date, where it really works, and what he sees as the vast potential for smart cities that work with media companies and digital signage technologies.

Alibaba invests $1.43bn in digital screen company Focus Media

Alibaba has acquired a minority stake in Chinese digital advertising company Focus Media for $1.43bn. Alibaba’s investment will give the e-commerce giant a 6.62% share of the Shanghai based business which owns digital advertising screens in 300 Chinese cities and claims to reach 200 million consumers.

The online retailer will also purchase a 10% stake in an entity which controls 23.34% of Focus Media. New Retail Strategic Opportunities Fund, which is described as a “non-consolidated, related party of Alibaba”, will also acquire a 1.37% interest in Focus Media, bringing Alibaba’s total investment to $2.23bn which gives the company a 10.34% stake.

Alibaba said it plans to acquire another 5% interest in Focus Media within the next 12 months, according to Alizila.

Focus Media will use the investment to help it grow its reach to include five million terminals in 500 Chinese cities in a bid to connect with 500 million consumers.

The acquisition aims to further bolster Alibaba’s New Retail strategy, which integrates online and offline retail to create a seamless commerce experience for consumers.

The deal will also enable Alibaba’s digital-marketing platform, Alimama to partner with Focus Media to offer brands new digital channels to promote their products. It will also bolster Alibaba’s consumer analytics tool, Uni Marketing, which enables brands to identify, target, reach and retain their customers across Alibaba’s ecosystem of e-commerce and media sites.

Alibaba and Focus Media will work together to create ‘New Marketing’ which will provide brands with a way to merge offline media, digital marketing and New Retail.


Leo Burnett, British Dyslexia Association create a moment of collective dyslexia

To encourage a more dyslexic-friendly society, Leo Burnett London and The British Dyslexia Association are using facial detection technology on Ocean’s DOOH screens to give everyone an idea what it’s like to live with dyslexia.

One in every 10 people in the UK has some level of dyslexia, affecting their memory, personal organisation or literacy, but not their capability to succeed.

To encourage a more dyslexic-friendly society, Leo Burnett London and The British Dyslexia Association are using facial detection technology on Ocean’s DOOH screens to give everyone an idea what it’s like to live with dyslexia.

Created by Leo Burnett London for the Association, ‘A Moment of Dyslexia’ was awarded the Charity first prize in Ocean’s annual digital creative competition which celebrates bold ideas which push the boundaries of DOOH. The campaign runs for two days on July 16 and 17 on The Loop in Birmingham and on Ocean’s Eat Street screen at Westfield London.

Leo Burnett London has created dynamic long form copy for the screens which is triggered by Look Out, Ocean’s audience detection technology. This can measure audience attention time as people stop to read the text.

The longer people look at the screens, the more jumbled the words and letters become, reflecting what it can be like to be dyslexic.

Lewis Beaton, creative at Leo Burnett said: “The BDA and Ocean have both been fantastic to work with. We’re excited to see the work go live and hopeful that we can make people think differently, and nudge employers to find ways to make their workplaces more dyslexia friendly.”

Ocean head of marketing Helen Haines said: “This simple campaign captures perfectly the dynamic capability of digital out of home and how DOOH screens can respond to and engage with people in the moment. On this occasion, the combination of technology and location with long form copy which you don’t normally find on large format screens demonstrates the power of the right message in the right place at the right time.”

OOH is a poster boy for data and digital

 Out-of-home advertising is enjoying a renaissance in many markets, as its newfound versatility, driven by data and digital, demands planners reconsider its role on their media plan, an industry figure says.

In a WARC Best Practice paper, How to plan an effective outdoor campaign, Tony Regan, a partner in Work Research and a founder of Brand Performance, outlines how out-of-home (OOH) is evolving rapidly as digital out-of-home (DOOH) enables new opportunities.

Sometimes described as “the last broadcast medium” targeting people on the move, OOH offers broad and fast national or near-national reach, second only to TV, but advanced measurement techniques now means more specific audiences can also be targeted as well.

Regan highlights the UK’s Route tool – the methodology is being exported to other OOH markets – which enables planners to build campaigns based on the audience characteristics of individual poster sites, creating a shift away from planning and buying standardised packages.

Instead of simply buying ‘ABC1 men’, they can now access audiences such as ‘people who fly long-haul for business’ and via Route’s data source they can access that audience not just at airports but in a wide variety of locations across the city and even in commuter dormitory towns.

And when DOOH is added into the mix, especially smaller format DOOH panels, planners can devise proximity or location-specific activations in conjunction with mobile devices.

“Geo-fenced mobile targeting is now an established technique, but it best extends OOH campaigns where consumers have a high dwell-time and are likely to be active on their smartphones – such as shopping malls, airports and train stations,” Regan advises.

Managing DOOH adds further levels of intricacy to what was already a complex process, but it also allows OOH to evolve from a planned, pre-structured medium to one with greater flexibility, buying media by day-part, for example, or dependent on the weather.

“As digital inventory builds up across formats and locations, planners can give digital OOH a hard-working role on the plan, not just treat it as icing on the cake,” he says.

“Smart planners use digital OOH in shorter bursts to amplify campaigns where volume of impacts is primarily delivered by physical formats.”

The resurgence of OOH is also being helped by new campaign management platforms which are making OOH buying easier, but “the notion of programmatic trading of DOOH across multiple owner inventories remains some way off,” Regan notes.


JCDecaux has announced the launch of VIOOH – a global independent automated planning and trading platform designed to accelerate growth of Out-of-Home (OOH) and connect the industry to the programmatic digital ecosystem. The capital of VIOOH – pronounced View – is currently owned 93.5% by JCDecaux and 6.5% by Veltys, a data specialist and modelling company.

VIOOH’s purpose is to grow OOH advertising spend globally by offering an integrated platform to provide automation and offer programmatic trading for media sellers and buyers. While Digital OOH is expected to be the second fastest growing medium between 2017 and 2020, the platform will strengthen JCDecaux’s capacity to meet the new expectations of its clients, brands and agencies, and enlarge the Group ecosystem.

JCDecaux is convinced that OOH can compete with digital advertising (mobile, search, display …) by transforming its whole offering through optimised campaigns using data and technology. This is why the Group decided to create VIOOH organically on a worldwide footprint and to open it to OOH media owners.

VIOOH has developed a best-in-class planning and trading platform for the OOH industry. The platform has been in development for over 2 years, and provides a full stack for automated trading, data management, content serving and ad exchange functionality. The new business is based in London and VIOOH already employs a team of over 65 developers, coders, commercial and support staff. VIOOH is able to incorporate many data sources and relies on machine learning algorithms to improve the targeting and the effectiveness of the advertising campaigns. OOH being by nature a “one to many” media, VIOOH is almost natively GDPR compliant and therefore will always comply strictly with personal data protection rules to safeguard citizens and users.

Starting in the UK and the USA, the platform will soon be deployed in Belgium, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Singapore, Dubai, Norway and the Netherlands among other markets.

Anti-billboard groups blocked legislation in California

Prototype LED changeable message sign in right of way.

Opposition from billboard companies, local governments, and anti-billboard groups blocked legislation in California to allow digital billboard advertising on the public highway right of way.

The controversial proposal could be attached to other state legislation later this year, but that seems to  be an uphill fight in the face of broad opposition.

For the second week in a row, proponents of the legislation (AB-1405) pulled it from committee consideration in Sacramento, a signal that the sponsor did not have sufficient votes to clear the committee (California Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing).  The committee met on June 19 and 26, taking no action to advance the bill.

The official bill analysis provided this clearly worded, frank description of the legislation, which would have allowed 25 digital billboards on California highways:

“The state can earn revenue by hosting advertising.  A single digital billboard can bring in $500,000 annually.  Were California to develop a network of digital signs along the major state highways, the state would control a new and powerful advertising media, outshining other billboards and outdoor advertising displays which are less optimally located.

For the outdoor advertising industry, a large state advertising network could only be developed and managed by a large firm, disadvantaging the smaller outdoor advertising companies.  More generally, the additional outdoor advertising signs allowed by this bill will increase the supply of outdoor advertising space, thereby driving down the price for advertising in the outdoor advertising market, which is bad news for the outdoor advertising companies owning that space and the local governments who share in those revenues.”

Opponents included local governments, anti-billboard groups in Los Angeles and San Diego, and billboard companies (Bulletin Displays, General Outdoor Advertising, Lamar Advertising Company, Meadow Outdoor Advertising, Stott Outdoor Advertising, and Veale Outdoor Advertising).

OUTFRONT Media and Intelligent Sign Network (affiliated with Foster Interstate Media) supported the proposal, along with groups representing contractors, labor, and crime victims.  California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which would have shared at least half of the ad revenue, said the proposal was “feasible.”

If enacted, the plan would require federal approval to overcome rules against advertising on public right of way signs.

Other decisions regarding use of highway right of way:

  • California

The California Senate voted 19-17 to reject legislation (SB-1397) to allow advertising on official traffic signs (June 2, 2016)

  • Congress

The US House voted 255-173 against a bill to allow corporate logos in floral designs on the right of way (November 4, 2015)

  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA):
    • Blocked Texas from selling corporate sponsorships of traffic signs (June 7, 2017)
    • Rejected a proposal to sell ads on the blank backsides of highway traffic signs (April 26, 2017)
    • Sent a penalty notice to New York State ($14 million) for installing promotional signs that did not conform to the federal Manual on uniform signs (February 1, 2018)
    • Denied Arizona’s request for a waiver to convert highway rest areas to service plazas with food and fuel (January 3, 2018)

Insider’s Take:  A spokesperson for sponsor Asssemblyman Kevin Mullin of South San Francisco said the bill is no longer active for thei legislative year, and Mullin does not plan to push the proposal in 2018.  Kudos to Jim Moravec, Tom Jackson, Mark Kudler, the Zukins and Lamar for helping to defeat AB-1405.  Expect to see more signs in the right of way fights as cash strapped local and state governments look for non-tax funding.

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JCDecaux acquires Australian out-of-home media company APN Outdoor

JCDecaux will acquire Australian out-of-home media company APN Outdoor for $1.119bn following a wave of consolidation in the Australian market.

The international outdoor giant has agreed the deal after its initial $1.1bn bid last week was rejected.

The deal will provide JCDecaux with APN’s large format billboards as well as outdoor assets in the transit, rail and airport markets. It will also enable the French-based brand to enter New Zealand, via the company’s trans-tasman assets.

Jean-François Decaux, co-chief executive officer of JCDecaux, said: “This acquisition is a significant milestone in JCDecaux’s history in Australia, which is the 7th largest advertising market worldwide, where we have been growing organically since 2000.

“APN Outdoor is very complementary to our existing street furniture assets and through this acquisition, JCDecaux will be attractively positioned to provide a compelling proposition to compete more effectively in the Australian media market where Out of Home accounts for 6% of advertising spend, of which almost 50% is digital. Finally, we are delighted to enter New Zealand, a fast-growing market.”

The acquisition comes hot on the heels of a major acquisition by APN Outdoor’s rival company Ooh Media, which outbid APN to acquire street furniture company AdShel.

Both deals are now subject to approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Mera Hoardings launched the world’s first Billboard booking mobile App

Mera Hoardings launched the world’s first Billboard booking mobile App compatible with Android and IOS mobile devices at an international level. Multiple billboard companies and Outdoor Agencies can set up their own marketplace all over the globe at an ease. World badminton champion Ms. Carolina Marin inaugurated the multi-vendor mobile app at Hyderabad, India; is an Indian Outdoor Advertising online booking company eminent for innovation since 2015.

Pumping up in an Out of Home Advertising industry, Mera Hoardings introduced the world’s foremost billboard booking mobile app compatible with Android and IOS mobile devices. The word revolution is a bit overused these days, but it’s fair to say that the possibilities explored by Mera Hoardings. Outdoor Advertising online booking systems are far-reaching. Indian Outdoor Advertising AD-Space’s online booking platform launched in December 2015. It has been growing with tremendous development since its origination and expanding business worldwide. Today Mera Hoardings is India’s major outdoor promotion online marketplace company, operating in 20 states with a broad assortment of 30,000-plus Billboards/Hoardings across 15000-plus diverse vendors.

Netflix has figured out that cord cutting is an opportunity for OOH advertising

Kym Frank, Geopath President, reminded by the recent Netflix/Regency rumors, addresses the relevance to the overwhelming and growing withdrawal from monthly cable or satellite services. Commonly called Cord Cutting, Ms. Frank discusses the cord cutting phenomenon and the prospect created for OOH.

Chances are you know someone who has already canceled their subscription to cable or satellite television – a “Cord Cutter.” Or maybe someone who has drastically cut back on their subscription – a “Cord Shaver.” Or maybe you know someone who simply never subscribed to cable or satellite television to begin with – a “Cord Never.” Or maybe you have already done one of these yourself.
The popularity of subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, the rise of smart TVs, and the ability to stream just about everything online – combined with increasing costs for cable and satellite created a bit of a perfect storm. As monthly cable/satellite subscription fees have increased over the years, a growing number of consumers are questioning the value proposition.
The statistical evidence is overwhelming.


Outsmart has announced that Out-of-Home (OOH) revenue reported for the quarter October to December 2017 saw the total market grow by 4.3% from £318 million in Q4 2016 to £332 million in Q4 2017. A strong Q4 contributed towards annual Out of Home revenue of £1,144 million, up 1.5% from 2016’s total.

Digital had a significant quarter of growth with an increase of 17.4% in Q4. For the first time, Digital Out of Home accounted for 50% of total Out of Home revenue, in comparison to 44% in Q4 2016. This reflects the continued investment in state of the art digital inventory as well as the conversion of Classic sites.

With Digital enhancements in scale and audience growth, the medium as a whole is increasingly effective. A recent study commissioned by Rapport, in partnership with the IPA, measured the business impacts of both Classic and Digital Out of Home. The results revealed that advertisers spending 15%+ of their budgets on the medium receive a boost of over one-third in market share and a 20% increase in profit growth.