18, May 2014

The out-of-home ad sector has a bright future as traditional media suffers audience declines, media boss Brendon Cook says.

Brendon Cook, the boss of Australia's largest outdoor advertiser, says the media and technology industries will help out-of-home advertisers nab an extra $200 million of the country's advertising pool.

Mr Cook, who heads up the private-equity owned oOh! Media, said the out-of-home advertising sector could increase its market share to 6 per cent, from 4.8 per cent now, over the next few years.

He said that while TV was still a great medium, the decline in its audience had created opportunities.

''The two biggest users of out-of-home worldwide, and have been for some years, are media in general. So here in Australia we have all the radio stations, all the TV networks are very big users,'' he said. ''It's for obvious reasons - once upon a time, if you got a 1.1, 1.3 [million] audience, you'd say, 'Oh, that's OK'.

''Now that's success … They don't have as big an audience in real terms as they used to.''

Shopping centres, cafes and pubs had also emerged as outdoor advertising opportunities in the past decade. ''Seven or eight years ago, you probably only had about 100 shopping centres with advertising signs in there,'' he said.

''Now of the 1350 in Australia, there's around 550 that have professional advertising systems because they're large enough to carry it.'' But he said Australia's advertising market was still short after a recent Fairfax Media review of top advertisers showed they were unlikely to boost spending in 2014 from last year's $9.5 billion across TV, digital, metropolitan radio, newspapers, consumer magazines, outdoor advertising, cinema and direct mail.

''Unless you're a special case, a traditional business without change isn't going to be around CPI-type growth figures,'' Mr Cook said.

''[But] we're finding we're able to attract new money, such as Apple and Samsung, because they know the audience is there.''

oOh! is the biggest out-of-home advertiser in Australia, after its merger with rival EYE Corp in 2012, with an estimated 35 to 36 per cent of the market.

Mr Cook said oOh! Media had spent about $30 million on digital signs and would probably spend the same again over the next couple of years, citing recent campaigns for Virgin Mobile and Google Play.

''What the technology investment does is allow that speed and flexibility in the way we can talk to clients we previously couldn't talk to.''

''I look at myself; I consider myself a Luddite but at the end of the day, I haven't used a PC from a search capacity or an online engagement in three years. I use an iPad and I use my mobile, and I do it anywhere.''

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