This month saw the 56th FEPE Congress in Budapest. FEPE (the Fédération Européenne de la Publicité Extérieure) is now a global organisation representing the world’s biggest out-of-home companies and this year’s theme, “Your audience is waiting”, seemed especially relevant given the growth of DOOH, its connection to mobile and the new data sets that we’re using to target audiences. This year Rapport were on the speaking roster talking about how we’re using data and in particular Route for clients such as Sky TV to target audiences more effectively and more efficiently.
The conference comes at a time when out-of-home is growing at 4.7% a year with global sales likely to hit the US$44bn mark by 2018. With other media channels declining, it’s not surprising that the sector is attracting a lot of interest and not just from the traditional stakeholders. This year’s attendance was notable for the attendance of Venture Capital and Private Equity companies, mobile and tech businesses with an eye to the growth opportunities in digital out-of-home which is forecast to grow its share to 16% in most established countries, and 30% in emerging markets within the next five years. If the UK is anything to go by, that’s going to happen far sooner than we think. Out-of-home packs a punch not least because it’s trusted, but for many it’s the compelling standout.
This year’s key note speaker was Dave Trott, a bit of an old school bruiser (you’ll never forget your first encounter with Dave) and who better to deliver a salutary reminder to us all that “simple” may be out of fashion but in reality it’s a case of the message being more important than the medium – regardless of how clever or sophisticated the channel. Warming to Bill Bernbach’s theme of “simple timeless human truths” he made the case that the creative message was in danger of getting lost in a new media world where content, ideation, transaction, narrowcasting were driving communication rather than a single, gripping creative idea. Rupert Day of 10th Avenue picked up on this point, reminding us that out-of-home, given its mass audience on ever improving platforms, was a formidable marketing channel – arguably more so than TV and online.
Everyone who can should attend FEPE. Out-of-home still has great charm and it’s important that so many of its original pioneers such as John Ellery, its Chairman and Denis Sullivan are still so heavily involved in a medium that started life with a poster being pasted on a board. This year, Jean-Claude Decaux, Chairman and Founder of the same company, was recognised for his contribution to out-of-home. The setting by the Danube, in the company of JCDecaux’s competitors and many admirers, seemed appropriate.