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OOH growth prospects strong, says WPP CEO Mark Read

By Rajiv Raghunath - May 19, 2021

Digitisation of outdoor media will further enhance its relevancy, observed Mark Read in his keynote in World Out of Home Organization (WOO) European Forum meeting.

Mark Read, CEO, WPP in his keynote in the World Out of Home Organization (WOO) virtual European Forum meeting held on May 18 said he expects a strong market recovery in 2021 and into 2022 as large parts of the world move out of lockdowns. He cited that WPP recorded a higher than expected 3% growth in the first quarter, “our strongest quarter-on-quarter growth since 2016” and “the first time since we led industry growth since 2013”. WPP saw 4% growth in the UK, 18% in China, among others.

Responding to a question from WOO President Tom Goddard on the growth prospects for OOH, Mark said he is bullish about OOH growth against the backdrop of a strong economic recovery and improved mobility. For instance, the US which was down 32%, will be up 22% this year, and the UK which was down 46% will be up 31% in the current year. “The prospects for OOH are very strong,” he said.

Where does OOH sit in a digital world increasing led by e-commerce? Responding to this question, Mark observed that outdoor will continue to play a pivotal role in brand building, raising awareness, and enhancing brand stature and that internet brands have also used the outdoor media for achieving those very ends. Brands like Netflix, Google and Uber acquiring outdoor media assets reinforces the relevancy of the outdoor medium for the future.

Mark also stated that digitisation of outdoor media will further enhance its relevancy to move messages quickly and by time of day. In a cookie-less world, OOH will become all the more relevant.

On whether brands will consider switching back from performance marketing to brand building, he said that performance being measurable does not necessarily make it quintessentially important for brands. As brands put more monies into performance media, they also run the risk of weakening their brand presence.

To increase global OOH share of ad spends from 7%, the industry would need to digitise more of its real estate and give clients the flexibility they seek, said Mark.

Is advertising no longer WPP’s main activity as the focus shifts to technology, data, media and creativity to deliver unified brand experiences? Responding to this question, Mark said “our main activity is providing ideas for creativity and our business is really about helping our clients connect with their customers and consumers, build relationships, drive sales, and we do that in increasing number of ways.”


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