Premium Audiences, PVC-Free & Neil Perry: Adland Reacts To oOh!media’s Bold Outfronts

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Reader: we’re nearly there. The end of upfronts season is almost upon us. But, before the season draws to an end, we had the oOh!media Outfronts.

Speaking to a smaller, though no less influential crowd, at Calyx in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, CEO Cathy O’Connor and the oOh! team outlined four key pillars of differentiation: new signage in Sydney’s affluent Eastern Suburbs, an inaugural retail media partner in Australia, an expanded oOh! outcomes measurement system and a renewed focus on sustainability.

“They provided confidence and clarity on their plans for expansion in 2024 with their Premium Sydney offering. Premium Sydney will provide advertisers access to a previously untapped market, Woollahra Council. Due to their affluence, the Eastern suburbs has always been a highly sought after audience but has been hard to access through advertising,” Vera Manalac, group investment director at iProspect told B&T following the event.

“In addition to that, when it comes to premium small format that can be bought as a concentrated pack in Sydney, City of Sydney has had a monopoly on luxury advertising spend. Given both these factors, this announcement will be a welcome addition to the landscape as it will provide some healthy competition”.

Seducing the Eastern Suburbs

oOh! put so much stock in its premium signage that it roped in Neil Perry, the restauranteur behind celebrated Eastern Suburbs spots Rockpool and Margaret, to big up the area’s well-heeled residents. Perry explained that when he was younger, Double Bay was a “thriving, amazing community full of great restaurants, cinema and retail.

“It went into a lull with Westfield’s opening in Bondi Junction but it has come back now. And we’ve helped lead that revival.

“We’re really the village at the centre of the Eastern Suburbs, we’re five minutes from the city and we’re in this wonderful situation where our catchment and clientele — I don’t worry about recessions, I don’t want to be in one — but they feel it a lot less than others do”.

As Perry was talking, VTs played behind featuring expensive sports cars, designer handbags and expensive-looking food. At a time when many are debating how best to reach consumers during an economic downturn, oOh!’s bold stance on targeting Sydney’s well-to-do certainly made it stand out from the other upfronts.

After the Outfronts, Paul Sigaloff, oOh!’s chief revenue and growth officer, told B&T that the company was “Really focused on having a positive impact on the world, society and people”.

“It was just reinforcing the nature of some of the demographics,” added Sigaloff.

“We’ve got a host of sites and networks across the country. For us, it’s much more about that we hit 95 per cent of Metro Australia. That’s a key, important piece because it’s about having the scale to target”.

Regardless of the optics, media buyers were impressed. Marianne Lane, head of investment at indie shop Kaimera said that oOh!’s focus on premium Australia was good business.

“Recognising and addressing market gaps while embracing the potential of data to enhance the effectiveness of advertising campaigns is a smart strategic approach. The focus on premium assets in premium locations demonstrates a commitment to providing advertisers with a premium platform to connect with their audiences in meaningful ways,” she said.

Sev Griffiths, general manager at M&C Saatchi’s Bohemia added that “The audiences are there regardless of whether we’re in a recession or not and the cost of living does impact everyone… I look at it from a more long-term perspective”.

Data, AI & oOh! outcomes

However, Griffiths did feel as though, despite oOh!’s focus on its new oOh! outcomes data offering and MOVE 2.0, it was light on AI.

“It was a question that was answered in a kind of off-the-cuff perspective. But AI is certainly driving a lot of business,” she said.

“It may not be from a content perspective but certainly from how easy it is to purchase media and how AI can do that”.

Nick Thomas, EssenceMediacom’s chief investment officer, added that oOh! “Arguably hasn’t kept up in the data and tech space.

“However, this was the mark of a step change as they focus on leading the industry and delivering on their mission to ‘make public spaces better and brands unmissable'”.

Despite O’Connor saying that her firm had made “significant investments in data” not all of adland’s good-and-great were completely sold on its oOh! outcomes pitch.

“Outcomes and measurement are a hot topic in the OOH sector given the Move 2.0 launch is around the corner. To help oOh! set up for this future, they have partnered with Flybuys in the hope of moving advertisers from the blunt demographic to Buyer graphics with over 800 new buyer segments that can be used to plan, buy, and report across their 30,000 assets. This is good for clients that are already using Flybuys, but it’s still not a common currency which may limit the true power of the data,” added Thomas.

Manalac added that oOh!’s new approach to data — getting agencies to purchase media based on ‘buyergraphic’ profiles rather than the more imprecise demographics — would offer buyers deeper insights and attribution.

“That will increase the total share-of-wallet of the entire outdoor category,” said Manalac.

“Any outdoor trader in the market knows that in the past oOh! have required a  minimum 80 per cent share requirements to access their data, but they also announced that they would be lowering this to 50 per cent. This should remove barriers for a lot of clients (usually with smaller outdoor budgets) who couldn’t afford to give oOh! the former share requirement”.

Not reinventing the retail media wheel

Despite oOh!’s initial focus on premium Sydney audiences with its OOH network, the company sought to talk up its new partnership with Drakes Supermarkets in South Australia and Queensland. Rather than rivalling Woolies’ Cartology or Coles360, oOh!media’s retail media play — reooh — is simply focused on building the infrastructure.

“There’s a lot of interest in retail media at the moment and it provides diverse and new revenue streams to retailers. The opportunity is that we can leverage our core competencies… We bring a high degree of sophistication, comfort and rigour in a space where a lot of people are trying to figure it out,” said Sigaloff.

EssenceMediacom’s Thomas and iProspect’s Manalac both said that this was a “step in the right direction” for oOh! but the proof would be in the pudding.

“For agencies and advertisers to truly harness this successfully, it will come down to how they scale this and connect it to brands,” he explained.

Sustainability & Geeking out on PVC

Doing better for the environment is hugely important for Sigaloff and oOh! as a whole. To that end, the company announced a pro bono partnership with Greening Australia, redoubled efforts to electrify its fleet of vehicles and move its entire network to renewable energy. A new fully recyclable large format banner was also revealed.

“I’m going to geek out because I love it,” said Sigaloff.

“It’s 100 per cent recyclable, it’s PVC-free, it’s durable and we’re the first business in Australia across media to use it… Once an ad campaign has finished, the banner is then put back into the manufacturing process and it’s recycled. So it can be used over and over again. We’re going to be rolling that out as our default product for billboards next year”.

However, while Thomas was quick to commend oOh!’s efforts, he was the only agency exec we spoke to who did.

“Most businesses in 2024 will have an ESG team or business goal centred around sustainability, and oOh! is no different. For an industry that creates physical waste, it was brilliant to hear a big step forward in ‘Circularity’ with 100 per cent recyclable printing, with old skins going directly back into the process,” he said.

There was plenty to mull at the Outfronts and oOh!media is certainly charting a bold course for OOH next year.



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