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‘The pandemic may have served us well’: OAAA’s Anna Bager on out of home’s climb back to revenue growth

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Anna Bager knows a thing or two about the potential and pitfalls of digital technology, she’s spent her entire career working on digital merchandising in one form or another – 10 years at IAB, and at Ericsson before that. In September 2019, Bagger was appointed to lead the Out-of-Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) as president and CEO, shortly before the pandemic knocked the Out-of-Home (OOH) bottom of media advertising revenue.

According to the agency’s estimates at GroupM, Zenith and MAGNA, OOH is on track to recover and even surpass its lost revenue. Baiger explains why and how the comeback will happen (hint: programming plays a big role), along with some predictions about what to expect in 2022 and beyond.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and space.

How can OOH pull this recovery out of the pandemic?

I’m coming from IAB and digital, where obviously the growth has been phenomenal, but we’re starting to see some issues on the horizon. I think growth parameters [for OOH] She was there before the pandemic. Then the pandemic hit, and at first that seemed like a disaster for the industry, right? Nobody is outside his home, and how are you going to sell it? The pandemic may have served us well in the end, because it forced a reset and helped drive programming development. Automated ads are really the source of most deals, at least for national purchases. Now come advertisers and segments who might not have been involved in the past. With everything going on in the world about privacy issues, brand security, fraud, cookies, etc – I don’t think it’s going to continue to change ads very drastically, but I think it works for people outside the home.

In the push towards multi-channel marketing and measurement, how choppy does OOH remain?

It depends on the advertiser, right? There are advertisers out there who totally embrace it and dig into it and engage with it as part of a broader multi-channel strategy. Then there are a lot of advertisers who see us as a way to build a brand, launch a product, create a scene, whatever it is. I think the connection between socializing and being outside the home is huge. We’ve seen that lately with music releases, like Adele releasing her 30th album or Drake’s just-released album. They buy some well-researched billboards or other types of out-of-home inventory to raise awareness, and then that goes to social media. Especially when you work through celebrities, you also get followers. It’s the kind of glue that can bind all your creations together and creates a lot of efficiencies in media buying as well.

What is the biggest challenge that OOH needs to overcome? What are the next drilling?

As we build for the future and change our medium, the way it is handled and the way it is presented, we need to try to avoid some of the issues that exist within the digital system. They can get there easily when transactions begin in a more programmatic manner, or when your CPM goes up. Suddenly [there’s] An interest in our industry can harm us. It’s the protection of what we have, protection[ing] value as we grow, making sure we don’t fall into the same pitfalls as ‘traditional’ digital [went through]. We want to keep the value chain reasonably clear, and not add too many vendors that increase cost and overwhelm them. [the marketplace].

What do you expect from the agency community?

Smart advertisers should be out of the house as part of their strategy. Thus, agencies need to rely more on understanding how out-of-home buying fits within the broader media – what they can and cannot do. These specialized agencies within the holding companies, some smaller outside the home [shops]They know the medium well, understand the strengths and can cater for that. I think it’s more about merging with us because we set the standards, letting us know how they want to buy and sell. You encouraged me so much [the fact that] Some leaders of specialty groups outside the home are becoming more immersed in the broader holding company structure. I think this can be really good for our media.

What are your expectations for 2022?

I am a firm believer in trade. That big ad for a music artist, fashion brand, or something on [Las Vegas] Strip or in Times Square is shown by someone who posts it, then millions of people share it. Now with Social Listening, you can see where people are listening to that message. Through automated ads, you can then push that message back into local markets to boost advertising and even add business opportunities through QR codes or other ways to interact with consumers.

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