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OOH best medium to win back public trust: Justine Cochrane

By N Jayalakshmi - May 21, 2021

Justin Cochrane, CEO - Europe, Clear Channel Outdoor, enumerated the ways in which the OOH industry could get back on the growth path in a post pandemic world, in his talk, ‘Use your superpower’, at the WOO European Forum meeting.

Justin Cochrane,  CEO - Europe, Clear Channel Outdoor, began his session on ‘Use your superpower’ at the World Out of Home Organization (WOO) European Forum virtual meeting held on May 18 by listing out some clear observations during the pandemic in the context of the European OOH market. 

Some of the market observations he shared included:

1. Differences in market recovery pace: Established OOH markets recovered faster post lockdown. He cited some examples -- UK, France and Switzerland. But less established OOH markets, which were strong  on TV - like Spain, Poland and Italy -  were slower in recovery. 

2. Roadside audience presence: Even during the lockdown, the underlying roadside audience of about 45-50% was still available. But post lockdown, with the opening of schools and retail, it shot up to 80%.

3. Rent challenges: Rent reductions posed tough challenges to media owners.

4. OOH media performance: Overall, roadside media performed well, while transit and mall media were challenged. 

While talking about the different recovery pace in different markets,  Justin pointed to the need to strengthen people’s understanding of OOH in certain markets and also highlighted the role of government vaccination programmes, which played a key role in market recovery.

Another big learning gathered during the course of the pandemic,  he shared, was the need for real time audience data. “For a lot of markets at the beginning of the pandemic, we didn’t really have any real time audience data. We had some great audience measuring bodies and systems in most markets, but they weren’t equipped to deal with the pandemic. What we need is real time audience changes that would give advertisers the confidence in the medium.”

He however added that the OOH industry responded well to the situation and that lot of media owners and agencies took initiatives to gather mobility and roadside audience data.  

Justin then succinctly listed out the ways in which the OOH industry could prepare for growth ahead by using its ‘superpowers’:

Reach: As Justin pointed out, OOH as a medium was best suited to achieve audience reach. He also made a very valid point about reach going beyond just impressions and impact, especially in the context of programmatic currency, and being able to deliver returns much faster.

Public Trust:  With shifting consumer sentiments and public trust in advertising being at an all time low, OOH was also the best medium to win back public trust, said Justin.  On this note, he segued to the next point about making OOH “a platform for good”.

Platform for good: Justin explained how OOH could be made into a platform for good by building  better infrastructure (as he pointed out , 50% of revenues go towards public infrastructure), creating better public experiences, working as an industry towards sustainability and, in the process, maintain and build public trust in the medium.  These, according to Justin,  were fundamental to the OOH business model.

While putting forth his views on leveraging the OOH superpowers to surge ahead, Justin also emphasised on the need for the OOH industry to work together as a whole. “We need to make sure we are loved and understood as an industry. And that really is what superpower is all about,” he said and added on a final note, “The more we can do as an industry to tell our story,  the more powerful it is; and it’s all about collaborating and working together to take away any worries advertisers might have regarding sustainability, etc. It’s about making the right choices and taking a higher stance in everything we do. If you do things ethically and responsibly , you can earn everyone’s trust.”


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