Digital transparency and industry consolidation are Ooh Media’s opportunity says CEO Brendon Cook

Ooh Media is working “very hard” on the issue of digital transparency, but industry consolidation could encourage greater investment in the area, CEO Brendon Cook told Mumbrella yesterday.

Cook’s comments came on the same day the company revealed digital revenue contributed 60% of total annual revenue for calendar year 2017.

Ooh Media boss says the company is working very hard on digital transparency

According to CY17 results released this morning, the out of home giant, which owns Junkee Media, Cactus Imaging and Executive Channel Network (ECN), reported $380.3m in revenue, up 13.1% in 2017.

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was up 25% to $87.9m while Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) climbed by 35.5% to $33.1m. Of those figures, 60% of Ooh Media’s revenue came from digital.

Cook said the industry was entering a “new period of how out of home can be measured”, but assured the company was well ahead of the curb in ensuring transparency.

“The platform Seedooh, with our own in house tech team, built a platform for transparency to the new level we wanted it to, but we wanted it to be independent,” he said.

Seedooh is a third party out of home platform, audited by PwC, which aggregates classic and digital data with campaign bookings. APN is also investing in the system.

“We are the first company that will have that data out into the market. We are working hard around that basis, but it goes to intent. We were the ones who said ‘it’s too slow, it can’t be an industry body thing.'”

Seedooh has been adopted by both Ooh Media and APN Outdoor

His comments echo that of new APN Outdoor CEO James Warburton, who also said transparency would be a “priority”.

At the same time, Warburton also suggested the industry body, The Outdoor Media Association, was slow in improving the quality of inventory. Cook told Mumbrella associations by nature, always take time to move.

“But the industry was the first to deliver an audience measurement system called Move that not only engaged the MFA in the tendering process and process through it, but also introduced visibility adjusted index,” he added.

“The challenge – just as a journalist was the one who proved that Facebook’s numbers were inaccurate, not agencies and clients – there is a multitude of different issues around data and also performance and experiences and impact with people.

“We are working through all those different instruments because we are entering a new period of how out of home can be measured. That takes time and that’s what we are doing.

“Even if the industry forum is a bit slow, then that’s probably to be expected given the multitude of changes that are going on. All I can comment on is that we as a company are bridging that gap by building advanced planning data, built around things like transactional-based data, to give more input and understanding to our clients.”

Cook is currently making changes to his business to reinvent the way an out of home company operates, as he outlined in the half year results. He has already completed phase one, which was around the scale of operation, leases, licenses and acquisitions. The second part of that reinvention is developing technology in house. That technology will launch internally in quarter two.

The third area the company is focused on is creating new and meaningful data points, which it is trying to achieve through its Quantium partnership.

Aside from that, Cook confirmed industry consolidation was of interest but noted it could encourage greater investment in data and transparency.

However, he said consolidation will be entirely dependent on the additional capabilities and value a smaller player brings to the Ooh Media brand. His comments follow a failed APN Outdoor and Ooh merger last year, which cost the company $2m. It also comes at the same time as rumours surface of a QMS sale.

“We will always be interested in looking at participants but they have to meet our criteria. Do they add value to our audience network? Do they add capability to our business?” he said.

“Consolidation would be of interest, and I think it would be a good thing for the industry. It would allow greater investment in the core scenarios that clients are after, more data, more transparency and more capability in the industry to drive ROI.”

On whether new APN CEO Warburton could shake up the industry and make an impact, Cook said:  “James will be very good for APN. The business needed a leader that would speak his mind and go out and do it for a while, and I think James will be very worthwhile for APN.

“As an industry, we are well on track to continue towards 10% of the media pie, and we need every company in the business performing at their best. Where legally allowed, we should always work on industry issues together.”

The out of home giant’s CEO would not comment specifically on the City of Sydney tender, which is currently underway, but he said: “We understand audiences, we understand how to build and maintain infrastructure and we believe a tender can add value to what we are doing, then we would clearly like to be participating in the process.”


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