Ocean Outdoor bets on resurgent OOH activity after 50% profit drop in 2020

Ocean Outdoor has recorded a nearly 50% drop in gross profit for the year to £22.5m, as well as overall losses of £182m.

However, the OOH sales house remains positive sector is expected to recover more robustly than most over the course of 2021, as the public flock back to outdoor spaces and travel and commuting return to pre-pandemic levels.

Back to reality

  • Ocean Outdoor announced that revenues in 2020 decreased, falling 17.7% to £105m.

  • However, the company said that “momentum is building” after the disruptions caused by the pandemic, and is betting on its £6.4m investment expansion into new areas to counter the freeze in 2020 over the rest of this year.

  • Chief executive Tim Bleakley said: “We have not only protected our core businesses across all territories, but developed or won incremental assets and contracts to accelerate growth, strengthening Ocean’s network proposition in key areas such as content partnerships, new technology and brand experiences to maximize every opportunity for advertisers as they return.

  • “Momentum is building and the investments we have made means Ocean is exceptionally well placed to reach and engage with highly receptive, liberated outdoor audiences at scale.”

  • To that end Ocean has accelerated its domestic and international partnerships, including a deal with BT Sport.

The great outdoors

  • Over the course of last year UK OOH ad spend was 61.5% of 2019 levels. That’s despite huge government spend over the year, according to the IPA. Industry body Outsmart said the revenue decline in the first half of 2020 sat at 44.8% year-on-year.

  • That’s despite a concerted effort from OOH agencies to stay relevant, such as the 'My Heroes; campaign that was specifically run in response to the pandemic.

  • Warc forecasts that digital out of home is set to grow 53.6% year-on-year and traditional outdoor will follow at 37.7%.

  • It builds upon the forecasts in the latest IPA Bellwether that the downward trend around adspend is softening as brands and advertisers expect a return to growth in the immediate future.

  • In particular the latest forecasts for the next year suggest +17.4% of firms expect their total marketing budgets to increase over the next 12 months – and will inevitably follow the public back into outdoor spaces.

  • That provides DOOH agencies and advertisers with an opportunity to capitalize on the rapid expansion of locations that are DOOH-ready, particularly in the US and Asia.