In the Advertising Association/WARC H1/Q2 2018 expenditure report, UK adspend in general was found to have risen by 7.2% year-on-year in the first six months of this year to £11.4bn. Spending for Q2 2018 alone was £5.6bn.
Marking the 20th consecutive quarter of growth in adspend, prominent benefactors were online and radio advertising. Meanwhile, advertising in national and regional newspapers, magazines and cinemas continued to decline.
For OOH advertising, an increase of 3.3% was reported in H1 2018 compared to the same period last year, only slightly behind the rise in TV spending at 3.5%.
Nick Stagg, sales director at London-based OOH printer SMP Group, noted that OOH was creeping into television’s territory as the ever-growing number of broadcast channels was diluting that market.
“Advertisers are realising that billboards – arguably one of the oldest mediums of advertising – are an amazing way to hit the masses,” he said. “We have seen an uptick in H1 thanks to the dilution in TV advertising and the clogging up of roads means people are having more chance to drive past and take in roadside billboards.
“Different clients are using OOH in different ways. Car manufacturers put it outside their garages, building contractors put it on hoardings while construction takes place, and online brands like Amazon, ASOS and Pretty Little Thing use it as a way to hit the streets.
“People are finding it more attractive now because the quality of print has improved, and the fact digital has caught up with litho means more bespoke jobs can be created, generating work personalised to different areas of the country.”
A key market in crisis that could see a knock-on effect among OOH printers is the high street retail sector. In a report published by PwC, it was found that 2,700 high street retailers – from independent enterprises up to the big names – had closed in H1 2018.
Stagg said: “We work very closely with retail and in hard times people look at ways to drive footfall on tighter budgets. OOH is an affordable medium and it is easy for retailers to link OOH campaigns with their indoor print work, so one campaign flows into the other.”
While SMP enjoyed a boost across H1 2018, and Stagg said his firm anticipated a strong December and January to cap off the year, fellow OOH printers – and PrintWeek Awards 2018 Out-of-Home Printer of the Year – VGL reported a “relatively flat” H1 year-on-year.
Senior sales account manager Jon Helm said: “Printed OOH builds awareness of brands and compliments digital OOH with fully immersive campaigns sitting alongside digital panels.
“I think the advantage of printed OOH in its basic form is that there is no distraction. You have a captive viewing audience that are interacting with a poster or printed panel in real time.
“We anticipate that 2019 will see continued growth. The OOH media owner sector is consolidating which will help drive revenues.”
For OOH buyers, the printed version of the practice continues to have a draw because of its direct access to potential customers and the ease of dispatch into areas of the UK.
Nicola Barrett, head of research at London-based OOH agency Exterion Media, said: “Classic or ‘static’ OOH is still the best way to hit cost-effective coverage, to own a site for two weeks, and build brand fame. Digital offers more tactical targeting, quick posting, and daypart advertising.
“Our first neuroscience study looked at how consumers interact with, think and feel about advertising on the London Underground network. It identified that the London Underground is a unique environment where people embrace advertising, with 60 per cent saying ads provide a welcome distraction on their journey.
“The research also highlighted that dwell time is unusually high in the Tube environment, with seven in 10 people saying they have increased opportunity to engage with the ads.”
While OOH enjoyed a positive trajectory in the first half of the year, direct mail suffered – with a decline of 5% in H1 2018 compared to H1 2017, which will be explored further in a future issue of PrintWeek looking at six months of GDPR.