oOh!Media’s Tim Murphy: ‘Big brands are returning with big brand messaging’

As the OOH sector bounces back to pre-pandemic levels, oOh!Media's Tim Murphy tells Mumbrella big brands are returning in full force with big brand messaging, and explains why the sector is benefiting from strong advertising demand from television.

As one of Australia’s largest Out-Of-Home (OOH) media companies, oOh!Media has seen continued strong demand from advertisers as audiences have returned post pandemic. 

oOh!media chief of sales officer, Tim Murphy tells Mumbrella big brands are back with big brand messaging, particularly across large format billboards.

Tim Murphy

“We’re definitely seeing a lot of big brands shift away slightly from a hyper-targeted approach to their audiences, and whether the changes in privacy and the cookie world are playing,” says Murphy. “I think we’re seeing big brands want to talk to broader audiences, and big billboards have got a fantastic role to play in that regard.”

He says: “We’re also seeing, some brands have had for a number of years, a really challenged or really disrupted opportunity to engage with their consumers in a positive way. Because of everything that’s happened within the wider landscape, and probably quite specifically around the marketplaces that they operate in.

“They’re launching back and they’ve got a lot of say around who they are as brands and how they can engage with consumers. And again, that broadcast messaging, and that big impact that a billboard can have is just as powerful as ever.”

Murphy explains the continued digitisation of OOH is now giving more opportunities for advertisers to play in the space.

“Once upon a time, you would have to place an ad a number of months out for a four week period, and now there’s a lot more flexibility in regards to how you can use a billboard and that’s giving a much greater accessibility to more advertisers,” says Murphy. “We’ve got more advertisers than ever had on a monthly basis, which obviously speaks volumes for how the sector and how the categories are being viewed by planners,  buyers and marketers. The other thing around the big billboards is continued investment by all the players in the out-of-home space.”

oOh! CBA advertisement

Meanwhile, Murphy admits there’s been a strong return of automotive brands to OOH following supply chain issues, and shares what categories have been the biggest spenders in the OOH space post-pandemic.

“All the major auto manufacturers are back spending, which is terrific, it’s been an incredibly challenging time for some of them in regards to getting stock on the ground here in Australia,” explains Murphy. “There’s a few of the major manufacturers that just haven’t had the ability to have distribution of vehicles to get to Australia, so that’s created a big backlog in demand and stock which is a good problem for them, but not necessarily a great problem for the media side of things. They are back spending due to some of those stock challenges they’ve got with parts of their range.”

He admits: “They are one of the categories that’s really pushing brand that’s not necessarily overly focused on specific product range, but largely talking brand, and a lot of them are also using their sustainable messaging, and their environmental creative narrative to to drive connection with consumers as they come out of a really disruptive couple of years of that sector. But, there’s no doubt that all the major autos are back spending.

“We’re also seeing new revenues coming from the new manufacturers, from the electric and hybrid manufacturers pollster Tesla and the like, which are starting to spend more actively in the OOH space, using large format billboards as a real baseline for their launch activity into the Australian market.”

As for the biggest spenders in the OOH space, Murphy says the Retail, Tech, and Media and Entertainment industries, and government are all coming back in full force. 

“We’ve had a really good run with the government over the last couple of years. And now we’re coming into an election as well. So, government spending has been up. Obviously, we saw the heightened health and safety messaging go up, but, also that needs to be complemented with the more traditional campaignable activity. The government’s been a really healthy spender,” says Murphy.  

oOh! George Jenson advertisement

He adds: “Media and entertainment have come back in full force. Some of the major media companies, the major television networks, the major subscription television platforms, that’s obviously a really hotly contested category at the moment with the absolute surge in opportunity for consumers watching so much television and how many subscriptions we all sign up to. Also, some  of the evolving diversified platforms, like Foxtel Media has been a really hotly contested space. 

“There’s definitely a battle for major assets and really owning environments across that category. Technology continues to play really significantly. The major technology companies, Apple, Google, and the like are still spending heavily in OOH.”

Murphy says a lot of the formats which were heavily affected by the pandemic have bounced back higher than expectations.

“They all are at the moment hotly demanded.  What’s been the most sluggish is still airports,” says Murphy. “But, in the last handful of weeks, we’ve seen a real surge in people at airports around Australia, traveling domestically and internationally. Over the Easter weekend, $7 billion dollars was spent on travel and tourism, so, people are flocking back to airports and Qantas are also suggesting that audience levels were back to 90 to 100% by the end of Q2, which is really promising.”

He adds: “As far as the formats go, large formats have been really healthy. Within the retail media and shopping centre media sectors, our advertising has continued to be really strong throughout the last couple of years. In particular, that local level where people were living and shopping more locally, but we’re starting to see some of those big shopping centres have some really strong investment in regards to the wider experience to consumers over the last couple of years. 

oOh! Media Jetstar advertisement

“People are going there for movies, for dinner, they’re going there for different reasons now, they’re keeping you there for longer so we’ve seen those larger shopping centres become heavily demanded again by advertisers. That local level has really had a huge comeback. People are back traveling, they are going to work in an office three days a week. People are living a little bit more locally and have become quite comfortable with that. So, we are seeing the suburban street furniture network, really highly demanded as well, at levels that were pre COVID.”

Meanwhile, Murphy explains how OOH has benefited from strong advertising demand with the television networks.

“The TV networks have enjoyed really healthy demand now for quite a number of months, particularly coming into an election period, as well, as they start to struggle to take on the rise of occupancy levels as well as hit an absolute peak, OOH, and particularly large format becomes a really cost efficient and complimentary media option for a lot of brands,” explains Murphy.

“ What we’re seeing now is that you can brief OOH and be actively running within a day. That’s probably been one of the really big shifts over the last couple of years is that speed to market, that our home now allows advertisers and agencies to be able to plan and buy in a really short timeframe. Then creatively have the dynamic sort of capability to be able to shift and move as they need to throughout a campaign. 

oOh! BankWest & Bannisters advertisement

“As the availability of television advertising becomes tighter, as they’ve got more and more demanded, OOH becomes a real consideration, a real alternative. We’ve always seen going back many years, you always see a bit of a pickup in large format, billboards when TV was filling up, because there’s advertisers who have got broadcast messages they want to get out there. They’ve got big brand impact messages, and they want to use Free-To-Air TV mainly, and OOH can play that role from a big brand advertiser. This is still the case, but what you’re seeing now is that short term accessibility to OOH, that ability to plan and buy today and be live by tomorrow,” he says.

In February, the OOH industry was back on track to reach pre-pandemic results, with the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) reporting a 24% increase on net media revenue for 2021, at $812.7 million, up from $655.2 million in 2020.

At the time, oOh! posted impressive revenue numbers, with full-year results showing the OOH provider had an 18% lift in revenue to $504 million, compared to the prior year. 

“We’ve got really healthy revenues now, within the last month that we’re in. Levels that we’ve never seen before, in fact, levels that we couldn’t have expected or ratios of short term versus long term that we couldn’t have expected So, that’s further reiterating that OOH is becoming a real short term buy and a real alternative to other media that may have been planned further out, and that’s been a real positive for the sector,” admits Murphy. 


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