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OOH Talk : Media Agencies Need A New Breed Of OOH Champions

I recently did some arranging of files at home and came across a memento to preserve.  It was the original offer sheet given to me by McCann-Erickson Philippines way back in 2001.  At that time, I was living in Bacolod and running our provincial OOH business which my late father had left me and my sister upon his untimely demise in 1985.

A few weeks prior to receiving that offer sheet, I was sitting in Venus Navalta's office where she had asked me to join the agency. She asked me if I was ready to leave Bacolod City and come to the big city.  I said, I was.  The rest is history.

I share this story because Venus knew where to source talent when she needed it.  Way back in 2001, Universal McCann was just building its OOH business beginning with an AOR (Agency of Record) assignment for OOH media by Nestlé.

The late Rey Inobaya handled that account.  Venus needed another person to handle Globe.  That's where I came in.

Fast forward to today, 22 years later.  It seems like there is a repeat of what transpired two decades ago.  The OOH media specialist agencies are gone and agencies need an internal OOH champion.  In the old days, OOH specialists, the likes of a Kinetic would service all OOH requirements of its sister agencies within its group.

Media specialist agencies have gone the way of the dodo and frankly, I'm not surprised that happened.  The balance sheets of OOH specialist agencies were horrible.  I could easily tell by their growing headcount that the model was not sustainable.

This was evidenced by a global trend.  In 2021, Publicis Media migrated all out-of-home buying to the jurisdiction of its in-house agencies with immediate effect, drawing a 27-year relationship with Dentsu’s Posterscope to a close.

So what's happening here in the Philippines isn't anything new.  Then of course, this year we learned of how Mediacom lost its OOH assignment to Dentsu.

The trend in the coming year, 2024,  is that each agency will have to dig deep from within to have its own in-house OOH champion.  Finding that person though will be a challenge because the champion has to bridge the divide between traditional OOH and what's happening at the forefront of digital media especially with the emergence of programmatic buying.

The solution I see would be for agencies to get the potential OOH champions trained heavily.  They must be forward thinking knowing that what is needed nowadays are not just OOH sites but OOH experiences.

Then of course, you still have the basic work of OOH which involves:

• Creating overall campaign operational plan, timeline and contingency plans
• Researching vendors & costs
• Negotiate and contract with vendors
• Creating/maintaining/enforcing schedules, budgets and project status
• Coordinating all campaign activities including monitoring campaign progress, troubleshooting, etc.

The work is not for the weak.  Thus, this is a real challenge when you think of where to get a Gen Z to raise up in a tough job who will not walk away in the thick of the fight.

The solution will have to lie in getting specialized training.  Where to get that is a different story altogether.

The writer, Lloyd Tronco, is an Out-Of-Home Media Strategist.  He is a constant subject matter expert on Out-Of-Home Media and Digital Signage.  He is also the industry journalist for OOH in the Philippines. 

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