I remember the first time I heard about Uber. A friend told me that "there is this new mobile app that lets you hail a ride, anywhere, anytime, pay with your credit card, and a car shows up in a matter of minutes." My initial response was "wait, you get in some random person's car and trust that they will safely take you where you want to go? Hmmmm. …" And then I tried it. There was no turning back.
The recent article, Is the OOH Sky Falling?, reminded me of a piece I recently encountered on organizational change. The article talks about the four psychological stages people and organizations go through when confronted with significant change:
Stage 1: Denial
"Due to the fear of losing belongings, or safety and psychological needs, you usually feel bad and deny the importance of change."
Stage 2: Resistance
You have "accepted the change but are now rejecting it."
Stage 3: Exploration
"After the unsuccessful resistance of change, most start exploring it after realizing they cannot stop the change."
Stage 4: Commitment
"Commitment is brought about by accepting the change, rather than fighting and ignoring it. After the acceptance, the change is integrated into the processes, thinking and values."
It seems to me that the anonymous author of Is the OOH Sky Falling? is somewhere in stage 2, approaching 3.
Like it or not, #OOH is evolving - not because OOH media owners and agencies want to, but because they need to.
When U.S. advertisers choose to spend $56 billion per year on online display ads*versus just over $4 billion on digital out-of-home ads, they're sending a message. They need more.
Follow the money and it'll lead you to software platforms where the things that matter most to advertisers are the baseline norm – an ability to quickly launch targeted campaigns, the ease and flexibility to revise campaigns, and an ability to measure results.
The world of digital advertising, where more than $100 billion per year is being spent in the U.S., has historically been segregated from the $8 billion world of OOH. Chalked up as part of the "traditional media" budgets, OOH doesn't get the respect or the share of ad budget that it deserves. The undervaluation of OOH is a problem. A BIG problem. One that three and a half years ago drew our attention. Why? Because we believe that it is solvable.
To borrow a quote from fellow Las Vegas businessman and founder of Zappos.com – Tony Hsieh:
Most innovation comes from outside your industry applied to your own.
We recognize that newcomer companies like ours might be met with some skepticism. Not just because we are new, but because of how passionate and active we are. It is not lost on us that there are deep, long-standing relationships that underpin much of the revenue flowing to the OOH industry. We get it – today, much of the OOH business does not rely on audience targeting, data and campaign workflow automation.
We know and respect the time-honored tradition in OOH and are proud to be part of the industry. It is our belief that for OOH to grow and prosper, fresh ideas, new approaches and better systems should be introduced, tested and perfected. How else are we going to cater to the digital, Millennial and Gen-Z media buyer who fundamentally thinks and operates differently than prior generations? Our answer is to make their process to buy OOH easy and give them their desired control and measurability. The prize for doing so? Massive new streams of revenue flowing into OOH.
I say this whole heartedly – "Chicken Little," the rallying cry we need does not pit OOH industry vets against new OOH tech and programmatic companies. To the contrary, we need to unite as an industry to welcome old and new perspectives, establish clear standards, and find better ways of doing things. By improving the perception and adoption of our age-old advertising medium, we will eventually find ourselves included in the coveted Tier 1 ad budgets more often.
There is no doubt in my mind that exponential positive growth will come when we embrace the changes that are happening in our industry and create synergistic relationships that are designed for the long-term. When we do so, there will be more wind in everyone's sails.
Note: This commentary was originally published in -- OOH Today.
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