Stepping out - Scottish Media Group

In the last quarter (Q2), the Outdoor Advertising Association noted an increase of 8.5percent on the same period in 2006, prompting its chief exec Alan James to hail it an “excellent” result - the twentieth consecutive quarter outdoor has achieved a year-on-year increase.

Said James: “Clearly, advertisers are increasingly recognising the value, effectiveness and excitement that outdoor can bring to their advertising plans.”

As in previous quarters, entertainment and the media are the top spending advertiser in the category and in 2006 revenues reached £932.5m in the UK. Already, 2007 is predicted to top that figure, with outdoor the only sector, other than the internet, to continue a pattern of growth.

An interesting development, however, within outdoors overall figure is digital – with revenue from outdoor screens increasing by an impressive 41.6 percent.

Scotland’s largest digital screens and banner were unveiled in Glasgow’s George Square by Ocean Outdoor earlier this year.

The George Square development offers three banners and two giant digital screens, providing 150,000 impacts per week.

The launch of the George Square site marked Ocean’s first venture into the digital marketplace.

Comments Damian Cox, Ocean’s MD: “We have waited to join the digital race until we could see how the market is developing and until we could secure a site as prominent as this.

“In keeping with our strategy for traditional poster sites, we are only interested in developing digital sites that have iconic stature and offer advertisers a unique opportunity.”

With George Square proving to be a success, Ocean now has other sites in development, to be launched in due course.

Over the past few years Glasgow-based Forrest Media has been at the forefront of outdoor development in Scotland with an aggressive expansion plan. However, its investment is on-going, says MD Marc Keenan.

“We will continue to spend heavily to keep our products at the forefront,” says Keenan.

“The outdoor sector is in a healthy state. The bigger players and the strong regional operators are investing more and more in top-of-the-range outdoor products.

“Advertisers love the fact they can now show video, or showcase their products by changing from one still image to the next. We can even offer live updates – for example, Tennent’s was able to put up the football scores from Hampden 'live' on the CityScreen as the goals were scored – engaging with the consumer and offering a 'live' experience is a very powerful tool.

“The wonderful thing about being involved in outdoor is that it’s always developing. Some of the proposals that we are submitting to the various local authorities are hugely innovative. To win over advertisers from other sectors outdoor needs to continue to innovate, stay exciting, and be well presented and accountable… that is exactly what is happening.”

This innovation is being led by a strong investment from outdoor media owners, as they look to grow and diversify their offering, say PosterPlus MD Gavin Hollywood.

“The market is very strong just now and we have seen a year-on-year increase across most of our formats,” says Hollywood. “However, all media owners now have to make substantial investment in new formats, upgrading sites and the latest technology so only time will tell if they grow market share.

“Digital is now a recognised format in outdoor. Our company entered the digital market late last year with the launch of our first outdoor digital LED site at Braehead Shopping Centre. We are now working on the final stages of site number two and plan to launch in another key city early 2008,” says Hollywood, who is also set to launch a new, bespoke 10 square meter digital Led outdoor screen through its mobile formats portfolio.

“We will see an increase in digital sites within the next 12-24 month as local authorities have now become more receptive to the idea and concept, thus granting planning consents,” he adds.

As the market continues to innovate, outdoor giant Clear Channel has won two recent, tenders from Glasgow City Council. As well as winning the contract to supply and maintain street furniture for the city – which includes more than 300 ad panels on FSUs across the city and a pedestrian tourist sign system – Clear Channel has also been awarded the contract to develop and operate its series of landmark advertising sites in council ownership.

The 10, high-profile locations will comprise of substantial, bespoke-designed, architectural structures, housing large-format backlit displays at key sites in the city such as Anniesland Cross, Castle Street and Barrhead Road.

Clear Channel already operates similar sites throughout the UK, including The Millennium Arches in Birmingham.

The design brief for the new structures has been given to the Mackintosh School of Architecture to develop.

Barry Sayer, CEO of Clear Channel Outdoor UK, said: “This is an exciting project. Whilst we also participated in the other tenders for more traditional billboard advertising this was the one we really saw as representing the future of outdoor advertising in the city.”

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