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Summary of FEPE International Congress Stockholm 2017

Stephen Foster,   |   23rd June 2017

The 58th FEPE Congress – this is certainly a body with a few miles on the clock – played to a packed Congress hall in windy Stockholm from June 7-9.

Out of Home is an industry with a distinguished past and, so far as one can tell, a rosy future as the only traditional advertising medium to have embraced digital to grow its business.

This was reflected in FEPE’s decision to make two creative awards at Congress for the first time: Classic, which went to Twitter in the US for a striking billboard campaign produced in-house (below) which also won the Outdoor Grand Prix at this month’s Cannes Lions awards and Digital which went to Ocean Outdoor and MediaCom for ‘The Secret Lives of Pets’ from Universal Studios.

This dual nature of the global Out of Home industry also surfaced in a number of presentations. Sky Head of Media Planning Barry Louth (Sky is the UK’s biggest advertiser and leads the Out of Home category too) expressed his concerns that the digitization of UK posters head left his company short of static billboard options.

Adrian Skelton and Nick Mawditt from leading UK outdoor specialist Talon also revealed their own research which suggested strongly that the most effective Out of home solutions came from a balance of digital and classic.

Digital, though, is where much of the action is in Out of Home currently and a number of speakers pointed to the convergence of media, with broadcast and Out of home, for example, coming closer together and competing for each other’s business.

Keynote speaker William Swayne from Carat said, in a rousing address, that Out of Home should lead media as a whole as it alone had the capacity to adapt and benefit from the growing digitization of the world around us; from the “internet of things (IOT)” to smart cities.

Christian Schmalzl described how Stroer in Germany had transformed itself into a digital all-rounder with a substantial web publishing business alongside Out of Home.

Mark Boidman of New York based investment banker Peter J Solomon caused a degree of consternation among some in the hall when he suggested that further consolidation was likely in Out of Home as other media owners eyed its prospects. The good news was that Out of Home was attracting many more investors as the financial community became aware of its potential for growth.

Where there’s media these days there’s also programmatic, the automated trading of digital inventory. It’s a contentious topic, notably on the internet with many advertisers uncertain about exactly what they’re buying and how the price is computed.

In a panel moderated by FEPE’s new Executive Director Bob Wootton, Dallas Wiles from JC Decaux and Stefan Lameire from Clear Channel International stressed their determination to keep programmatic in-house rather than handing it over to third parties which would, Wiles said, mean a “race to the bottom” in terms of price.

Programmatic’s role in Out of Home was described by a number of speakers as being in the “baby step” phase with no industry-wide agreement on trading practice and platforms. Incoming FEPE President Tom Goddard from Ocean Outdoor asked the panel how big programmatic would be in the near future, the $64,000 Question nobody yet seems to have an answer to.

The theme of the Congress was ‘A time of revolution – earning the right to win’ and the balance of classic and digital and the role of programmatic are certain to be on the agenda at next year’s Congress and, probably, in years thereafter.

But the mood of the Congress was determinedly optimistic, welcoming the challenges as well as the opportunities for the industry in the years ahead, encapsulated in outgoing President Matthew Dearden’s “Four pillars of Out of Home’s future success.”

Noteworthy too is FEPE’s now established status as a truly global industry body, which makes it unique in the media landscape. Congress heard from speakers from Africa, India, Russia and the United States as well as Europe, underlining its vital role in bringing together this buoyant worldwide media industry.

"As an industry, I believe, we have forgotten the power of repetition. Effective communication isn't small. It isn't cheap. It isn't once."
"Advertising isn’t supposed to be private. It’s supposed to be overheard, shared, stumbled across and discovered."
"And then there’s advertising’s past. The intrusive, inflexibile and mute billboards. They feel like throwbacks to the old way of doing things. A flat image with an unyielding rule that the consumer can take in no more than eight words (unless they’re Economist readers). How boring. How old school. Until you remember 2015's ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ campaign. Simple, traditional and utterly un-missable pieces of art in the urban landscape."
"Out of Home is the oldest medium of all There’s still huge power in the public message – the power of the public comment. It’s a big thing – it’s why people get married in front of an audience of 150; it gives a public sense of commitment."
"We've chosen to use digital to make everything more efficient...but we've forgotten how to explore and discover. It's a loss of serendipity and we've lost a lot of the humanity. We're becoming very reliant upon digital and the internet to make us incredibly efficient and we're losing out."
"The beauty of OOH is that it can double as a TV screen, a social feed, a camera, a vending machine, a download site, or a purchase point."
"OOH is constantly evolving, and its ability to integrate so brilliantly with new technology is one of its main strengths."
"Media changes, driven by digitisation, have left consumers facing a tyranny of choice—yet OOH is a channel that can still deliver huge audiences, and can increasingly do so in creative and engaging ways."
"The Out of Home sector has been tremendously resilient throughout the recessionary years, showing consistent growth driven by its fundamental benefits. In an ever-fragmenting media landscape, you can still reach pretty much the entire population, all at the same time."
"Out of Home is booming right now: OOH is the most ubiquitous media – you can’t turn the page, change the channel or switch it off, and Out of Home continues to integrate itself brilliantly with other new and innovative technologies."
"Posters decorate the world "
"Speed of change is all around us and no more so than in the rate at which advertising investment in traditional posters is being transitioned to include a far more flexible Out of Home canvas; the digital poster."
"I love OOH because the diversity of opportunities makes it a realistic option for almost any client. Add to this the ever growing possibilities for new innovation and it’s a media channel that is truly exciting to both agencies and clients alike."
"As DOOH becomes more “digital,” it becomes more agile, richer, and better able to play its part in a big idea. As a plugged in medium, DOOH can be the active element in a multi-layered campaign. It can create buzz, break news, invite interaction, and help to drive content and discussions online. Great DOOH campaigns are ones that sit comfortably within the wider brand strategy and capture the imagination."
"By its very nature, Out of Home’s remoteness from the consumer living room, from the office, and from the home computer, has made it a natural bedfellow of mobile marketing."
"OOH inhabits a wonderful space in which we benefit from a rich heritage of memorable, iconic campaigns and a truly exciting future unfolding before us. A broadcast medium that just keeps getting better."
"DOOH is a really interesting storytelling medium, beyond advertising. It allows you to touch and feel and interact in a way no other medium does. That's the real beauty of it, and usually overlooked"
"Show me any brief, for any client and any campaign and I guarantee that OOH will be able to have a justifiable role to play as part of the media solution. That role maybe big or small; local or national, classic, digital or both, large format, small format or anything in between... but it will be justifiable and worthwhile. There isn’t any other medium that can replicate that claim, or indeed come anywhere near doing so."
"London’s very large public transport network carries a great deal of OOH advertising. As a result, London alone has 170,000 advertising sites, more than 40 per cent of the national total. This makes London the most valuable city for OOH advertising in Europe and among the most important in the world."
"Digital OOH networks are multi-sensory and with the development of touch technology things are moving fast. Stimulating the senses more creatively generates social shares, great PR and awards."
"Central London will undergo a transformation and cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will get even brighter and more connected"
"It makes sense for the most welcomed and least intrusive media to deliver presence for brands interacting through the media"
"OOH remains the flexible canvas for which a guaranteed audience is never too far away"
"OOH may be the oldest medium, yet it has shown remarkable resilience in reinventing itself"
"Smarter brands are contextualising their ad messaging, reaching a target audience when it matters most and can change behaviour"
"Poster sites really are the last true broadcast medium capable of near universal reach"
"Immediacy, targeting and excitement are what DOOH can offer that other media can't - its just very very cool.The opportunities are endless"
"The combination of classic and DOOH should be an intoxicating mix for any marketing director"
"Out of Home is an accountable, measurable and effective media for advertisers"
"Reaching people in the right place, at the right time is still Out of Home’s biggest strength"
"Posters are the purest and most effective form of communication"
"I would advise marketers using OOH not to see a poster as a Wikipedia entry, think of it as a piece of art"
"OOH engages hard to reach audiences on the move with inspiring and innovative communications"
"Using data to plan OOH enhances campaign performance by up to 200%"
"London is the most valuable city for OOH advertising... and among the most important in the world "
"Super premium digital Out of Home is one of the quickest ways to get into the conversation and make your brand famous"
"For a brand to live, it needs to appeal not only to the people who buy it, but also to the people who know about it "
"Media isn’t about the number of impressions you make. Media is about the power of the impression you make."
"In advertising, we have the power to change minds, change beliefs and change the world"
"DOOH offers deeper engagement than other media, more of a story and feedback"