Outdoor ad group adopts global stance

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The Outdoor Advertising Association of America, trying to keep up with the expanding definition of out-of-home in the booming $4.5 billion business, is putting a more global face on the organization while forming two councils to address the specific needs of truckside and alternative advertising. The moves come as the Shelter Advertising Association, which represents the transit advertising sector, this week votes on whether to merge with the 1,300-member outdoor group.

"One of our key objectives in the 21st century is to reach out to other, less traditional forms of out-of-home media that are found in the world today," said Stephen Freitas, OAAA's chief marketing officer. "While there are a few international groups, in general there's not a strong worldwide organization that represents out-of-home."

Next year in New York, the OAAA will open its every-other-yearly meeting in September to a worldwide audience; and instead of awarding a single international Obie at its annual award ceremony, moved to coincide with the meeting, the group will include awards for non-U.S. campaigns in all nomination categories. Also under consideration is the formation of an international council.

Dave Yacullo, president of Outdoor Services, a New York media buying group, said he is pleased the OAAA is endeavoring to create a worldwide organization.

"One of the difficulties in planning internationally is the information you receive is so inconsistent from country to country," Mr. Yacullo said. "One of the main charters of the OAAA is to provide consistency on the product. If they can accomplish that internationally or even dent it, I think it would be extremely well-received by the buying community."

"Outdoor advertising has changed dramatically in the last several years," Mr. Freitas said. "We're finding a lot of the growth primarily in Western Europe and Asia, as well as a large boom in the past two years in Eastern Europe." Japan outpaces the U.S. in outdoor, with an estimated $4.5 billion in 1998 spending.

Forming councils to focus on a variety of out-of-home sectors can also improve the medium's positioning with media buyers, Mr. Freitas said.


The OAAA's first, the Truckside Advertising Council, was initially discussed in January, prior to the Traffic Audit Bureau's announcement that it would measure the reach of truckside ads. The council, which will aim to define, standardize and promote truckside ads, expects to have 30 members by yearend.

David Ludington, president of TransMedia Group, Chicago, a member of the new truckside council, hopes to encourage ad agency representatives to lend their voices to the council. "This doesn't just get us in front of [media buyers] but it puts us out there with a unified voice," he said. "This is a popular new category. We have TAB measurement and the drought in outdoor space [available] is propelling people to look at truckside, but it's important to set standards."


Chip Fisher, president of Park Place Media, New York, and new OAAA member, is pleased that the association is recognizing new formats. He will head the Alternative Advertising Council, representing emerging media formats that target out of the ordinary locations such as golf courses, parking meters or supermarket floors.

"There are a lot of companies out there doing alternative advertising," Mr. Fisher said. "It's really started to explode from coat hangers to elevators. The sales in this sort of mini-industry are reaching collectively into the hundreds of millions of dollars."

Mr. Fisher said it is imperative to create an index for media buyers, making it easy to discern what alternative ad opportunities there are in different markets.

"It's very easy to call Eller [Outdoor] and [Infinity] Outdoor and get a kit and know where the billboards are across the country," Mr. Fisher said. "We want to give them a quick list of who's playing ball in different parts of the country."

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