In an effort to complement its expertise in traditional out-of-home, Clear Channel has continued to recruit a wealth of important figures from across the advertising and technology industry. This summer saw the appointment of Andrew Morley as the chief executive of Clear Channel, replacing Matthew Dearden, now President of Clear Channel Europe.
The new CEO made a name for himself as Vice President of Marketing and CEO with Sky, Motorola and Google. Morley brings with him a wealth of invaluable digital and mobile knowledge, at a time when both platforms begin to play an increasingly important role in the transformation of the OOH medium.
Rapport sat down with Andrew to discuss everything from the growth of mobile and digital within the OOH spectrum, to his favourite holiday hotspot.
You’ve been in your role almost 5 months now; how has it been so far?
I’ve really enjoyed it. First observations were that the industry has massive potential, which is one of the reasons I am here. The medium is already big, but it has an opportunity to transform itself, more than any other. People are increasingly looking for interactivity in every part of their daily lives. Gone are the days where communications is only one-way. People want it to be two-way – we saw that a lot at Google – and I think we have an opportunity to do that in a way that other mediums do not.
You mentioned the industry had an opportunity to transform itself; how so?
At its core we have an opportunity to engage with audiences much better. This can be through a number of different ways. One such way is using technology alongside traditional posters, for example our Connect mobile platform. With around 25,000 Connect sites across the UK, we’re now at a point of fairly critical mass.
Upon taking the role you said Clear Channel were on the cusp of a revolution; tell us more.
I would say we are probably half-way along the journey. It’s great that we have embraced some technology, for example Connect and the tech-driven British Airways ‘Look Up’ campaign, but there is much more we can do to push it on a mass-scale. This is where Connect becomes a big opportunity for us, and the same is true of digital. It’s an experiment that has worked into a business model.
The general consensus is that there is a synergy between out-of-home and mobile. How have your previous roles at Google and Motorola shaped your view in this regard?
One of the questions I was asked from day one is why would I leave digital and mobile? My answer was that I didn’t! I think that this will increasingly become a business that is enabled through digital and mobile. 90% of the people here have grown up and developed within an out-of-home environment, so trying to challenge the business to think differently is where my experience becomes most useful.
Are you looking to further commercialise mobile?
Connect is our first key commercial opportunity. The more we can align our business with what is happening in mobile, the stronger we become. How we do it next? This is the key question to ask, but Connect is very much the first step on our journey. I couldn’t really say what the next step will be, but we have been talking about a number of different options as to how we move next. What we do know is that we want to continue being at the forefront of mobile.
How did Out-of-Home feature in your previous marketing roles at the likes of Ford and Sky?
For out-of-home specifically there was typically a 15% share of investment, with both Sky and Ford being particular fans of the medium. Part of our problem however, is that the share of thought on outdoor is far less. People always spend time on the so-called next new thing. When I joined Sky in 1999, for example, there was no internet advertising, which is not that long ago! At Ford, only 2% of the overall media budget was dedicated to web advertising. As time passes, you find that people spend a disproportionate amount of time on the next thing, which interestingly gives us an opportunity to become exactly that.
Speaking of the next thing, Clear Channel are about to launch PlayLondon, so can you tell us a little about what your hopes are for this proposition?
We are already the UK’s number one in roadside digital advertising. We are starting from a position of strength, but our main goal is to maintain this leadership. PlayLondon is about making a bold leadership statement. The Adshel Live expansion, which is our digital bus-stop product, will hopefully give advertisers and specialists something special to work with, and in this respect, our Walkers ‘Tweet to Eat’ ad really broke the mould.
Another key development is Storm‘s portfolio expansion. This will take the number of panels to twenty which will enhance our large format digital landscape. Again, these will be constructed in some of the best locations, which we feel will really enforce our aims to position Storm at the forefront of premium digital.
Storm launched to provide brands with complete buying flexibility but how has it worked from a commercial perspective for Clear Channel?
Take-up from brands has been great. Some of the innovative developments we have had could have only been made possible through Storm. First and foremost, the message we need to get across better though is that Storm is a super-premium large format digital offering. Buying is an easier discussion; if you want to buy it flexibly – you can, if you want to buy it traditionally – you can. It isn’t about a flexible buying model because this can be done with any medium; it’s about large format, super premium digital. I think we need to focus more on that and then we can talk about the commercial model.
What are your feelings towards Route and the possibility of audience trading moving forward?
We’re in a much better place than we were which is great. But it needs to improve even further. The ease of trading will come, because the advertiser will force it whether we like it or not. Whether that is programmatic, or something else, I couldn’t answer that. As an advertiser, I wouldn’t feel programmatic provided me with what I wanted. We have to make the medium as easy as we can to buy, and one of the big breakthroughs of digital was ‘if you make something easy to buy, people buy it’. Programmatic in its purest form is something for us media owners. All the advertisers want to know is if they can buy what they want, easily. Whatever we do to facilitate that has to be a benefit for us, because outdoor isn’t that easy to buy.
As a marketer you always want to obtain reach; that’s always everyone’s target, but it needs to have impact. I think we are the only medium that can do both. Online banners are completely ignored and everyone knows this by now. What you can’t ignore though is a site like Piccadilly Circus that has an ad displaying your name on a bottle of fragrance. You can’t ignore Gary Lineker handing you a packet of crisps. You just can’t!
Finally, what is your long term vision for Clear Channel and the wider industry?
My grand objective is to transform the industry. Currently outdoor has a 10% media share, but I’d like to see it achieve the higher share that it clearly deserves; perhaps 20%. That should certainly be our long-term target. It’s encouraging to consistently hear that other media owners also wish to grow on this front.
I see us becoming considered much more alongside digital and mobile than we are alongside traditional display formats. I would like for Clear Channel to be viewed and categorised under ‘digital and mobile’, not under ‘print’, and I know that this shift is happening. Our relationship with some of the digital agencies is a really interesting change for both us and specialist agencies. A huge part of Clear Channel’s DNA is asking how do we stay on top and maintain our leadership, and that’s not necessarily always interpreted in terms of just share, but also innovation, technology, and new approaches to doing business.
Family life: Married with two teenage sons, living in Chorley Wood – along with everyone else in Outdoor it seems!
Hobbies: Cycling – I’ve done six or seven stages of the Tour de France, obviously not at the same time as the professionals!
Favourite places you’ve lived: Singapore. As an expat it’s just fabulous. It’s like a bubble. You literally go out every night, and if you happened to stay in one night, you’d get people knocking on your door to ask why you weren’t coming out!
Interesting fact: I’m a trainee vicar.
We would like to thank Andrew and his team for their time, and wish him all the best in his future at Clear Channel UK.