“Out of home is the only traditional media seeing ad spending growth right now, and for good reason. It remains relevant despite continued development and deployment of new media that have drawn eyeballs away from newspapers, magazines and linear television.”
// Gino Sesto, President, Dash Two (Source)

As we ring in a new year, the excitement for our compelling out-of-home (OOH) media industry grows. Working in OOH, we’re obviously champions for the various media formats available that deliver a big, bold creative message in the real world. We’re not the only ones. The OAAA reported in early December that OOH spending, year-to-date, was up 3.7 percent.

“The immersive and relevant nature of OOH continue to drive interest among brands,” says OAAA President & CEO Nancy Fletcher.

As we ride the wave of success into 2019, here are our predictions for trends we’ll see continue to emerge this year.


mobile billboard

1. Push for improved and standardized measurement
As digital marketing blends with out-of-home marketing (more on that later), OOH buyers are seeking more metrics and impression numbers for the physical OOH media. Geopath is at the helm for delivering standardized audience measurement for most OOH placements. We are currently collaborating with them to expand their ratings to more OOH media formats, including mobile billboards. We’re collecting feedback from buyers and understand the importance of accurate measurement.

There certainly has been progress in this area over the last few years…but there’s still much room for growth.

Until every media format has a standardized rating, we’re seeing many OOH media companies turn to other solutions. Some rely on in-market survey data, Wi-Fi sensors or facial detection cameras, as examples. As the OOH industry moves away from historic measurement methodologies into a new innovative era, we need to push for an improved system to deliver accurate impression numbers to OOH buyers.

As responsible media companies, we need to be fully transparent regarding how we’re reporting on our impressions. Buyers need educated on the various methodologies being used. One OOH media format may measure their impressions differently than other media formats in their mix.

We predict OOH measurement to become a wider conversation and one of the top 2019 trends in our industry.


OOH + mobile

2. The marriage of OOH + Mobile
When you combine your out-of-home media with mobile advertising, you just may hear those wedding bells. Our many integrated campaigns have continued to over-perform digitally. We believe in using OOH to drive mobile digital performance so much, we even hosted an OOH + Mobile panel discussion last year, which was led by leading marketing professionals.

We predict that digital buyers will continue to rely on out-of-home media to boost awareness, add credibility and drive more clicks on their mobile display ads. We can no longer look at OOH and digital as two separate silos. Both media formats are powerful alone, but it’s the marriage of the two that amplifies the impact. One drives awareness, the other drives online engagement.

Nielsen’s Out-of-Home Online Activation Study showed that outdoor advertising drives more online engagements per dollar spent than any other media channel (TV, print, radio). As more advertisers see this success for themselves, we predict more integrated campaigns among the 2019 trends.


technology brand advertising

3. More big brands using OOH
The top 8 brands are tech brands: Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, Facebook, AT&T, Microsoft and Verizon. And these big tech brands use OOH.

Kantar reports 14 technology giants increased their OOH spending by “double digit” percentages in the third quarter last year, including Microsoft, Facebook, YouTube and Oculus. Apple and Amazon were among the top ten OOH advertisers for the quarter. With consumer AI products, Google Home or Amazon’s Echo, as examples, these technology brands are finding OOH an important piece to the media mix for brand awareness growth, competitive positioning and sales activation.

Our own 2018 client roster included: Verizon Fios, Metro by T-Mobile, Spotify and Venmo. These brands, which are focused on all-things-digital, realize the unique value of OOH.

Even outside tech brands, well-known companies such as Comcast, American Express, Geico and McDonald’s are using OOH media in their plans.

What perhaps used to be promoted as an affordable option for local brands is now seen as a very relevant media format for big brands. OOH can be purchased at scale and delivers a real-world impact. Other media channels are struggling to stay relevant in today’s age of channel proliferation, but OOH continues to compete against traditional media.

One of the draws to OOH, perhaps for these big brands, is the powerful creative delivery they gain by using OOH. With OOH creative, big brands can localize their message, dare to be bold and deliver simple, memorable messages. The visibility, large real estate and creative opportunities of OOH are appealing for leading brands.

More big brands (and tech brands) using OOH media is certainly one of our predicted 2019 trends.


mobile billboard

4. The boom of cannabis
It’s a $10 billion industry…and growing quickly! Even as marijuana gains support, cannabis advertising faces strict regulation. Plus, many publishers and digital platforms do not accept ads for marijuana brands.

While this may seem like a hurdle for those in the cannabis industry, it’s a win for out-of-home. Mobile billboards, for example, offer customized routing and navigational technology to ensure an advertiser’s marijuana messaging isn’t placed near schools or other restricted locations.

We predict that cannabis – and the changing regulations to advertise it – will impact the OOH industry in 2019.


mobile billboard

5. Changes in OOH buying
There are many factors affecting how OOH media is bought, including:

  • Expectation of programmatic-like, automatic buying. Many DOOH assets provide programmatic buying, but the majority of OOH media formats are not digital. While buyers need to be willing to bend a bit for the value of other OOH formats, OOH companies will continue to explore improvements in ease and efficiency for buying their media.
  • Acquisitions, consolidations and mergers in OOH buying agencies. For example, we recently saw Publicis Groupe consolidate the OOH buying power of four agencies into one. As agencies shift roles, the way OOH is bought (and by who) will shift, too.
  • Direct brand buying. Many brands are bringing some media planning and buying in-house, which also affects OOH buying practices.
  • As these influences in the industry evolve, we’ll see natural ebbs and flows in our OOH buying and selling processes. Let’s stay tuned to see how these changes affect OOH in 2019.


    sampling vehicle

    6. More brand experiences
    Experiential marketing is on the rise. According to a Chief Marketer special report, marketers will spend 20.7 percent of their overall marketing budgets on event and experiential in 2018, up from 18.7 percent in 2017. We expect to see that same type of growth into 2019.

    Experiential marketing is the collision of out-of-home and the events industry. We predict more event-like OOH activations, as well as more OOH media that drives a human interaction. For example, the creative may feature a mobile tag that’s easily scanned from one’s device to connect them to an online experience. Or the OOH media will allow viewers to engage with augmented reality. Perhaps more social media integration will result.

    As consumers continue to seek out brand experiences, OOH will be ready to engage. More experiential out-of-home is on our list for 2019 trends.


    Happy New Year to you. We look forward to a successful 2019 in the OOH industry. Use the comments below to let us know what 2019 trends you’re predicting for the year. Then, say hello to plan your 2019 media.