Phil Clemas: “NZ is a leader in OOH: Let’s keep showing the world what we can do”

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TORONTO, Monday: The World Out of Home Association’s annual congress is an industry-leading event – and Lumo ceo Phil Clemas was there to soak it all in. Here’s his take on the biggest trends to keep an eye on.

A Golden Age of Out of Home
“That’s wha Sean Reilly, ceo of US-based Lamar Advertising, believes a balance between classic out-of-home (OOH) and digital-out-of-home (DOOH) would create.

“It’s a nice idea, but I would have to disagree – the only Golden Age I see coming is for DOOH.

“The conference was a peek into the future – and it gave a great insight into how New Zealand’s DOOH industry shapes up compared to the rest of the world.

Bigger isn’t always better
“No man is an island, but New Zealand certainly is. Figuratively at least. Our geographic isolation from the rest of the world may be seen as a negative, but the WOOH conference brought home how it has worked to our benefit.

“Being unattached from the rest of the world, plus our distance from Europe and North America, means we can be more agile and jump on trends much faster. This was evident through the uptake of DOOH in the wider world, where revenue through digital assets is just 37%.

“Compare that to New Zealand, where 70% of our OOH industry is digital, and 30% is classic. It’s worth noting that in the US, most companies operate by state, whereas in New Zealand, companies coordinate nationally. We’re unencumbered by the logistics of having a bigger land mass, and by the complexities of the larger market. 

“Kiwi brands need to leverage our smaller size and use it to their advantage. We have the chance to be trendsetters in our own right, and a unique opportunity to test and learn. This is something Lumo values deeply, as experimenting gives us the ability to provide clients with the best possible solutions and to be transparent about it.

“OOH has never been more important. We’re in a good place after the pandemic knocked us back a few pegs, but it’s digital that’s going to set the tone for the future. In this respect, New Zealand isn’t behind the rest of the world, but ahead of the curve.

“The rest of the world is looking to embrace the future – but I think New Zealand is already there.”

Mythbusting the new normal
“Given how many times we’ve heard the phrase “COVID normal”, are you confident you know what it actually means?

“Tim Bleakley is founder and ceo of Ocean Outdoor, a major player in the OOH space in Europe. It was his session at the WOOH congress that was an absolute standout, for saying what many have suspected in the back of their minds.

“Bleakley explained that the idea of a ‘new normal is a myth. We’ve been told that nothing’s going to be the same and we won’t go back to our old ways post-pandemic. It’s true in some respects, and hybrid work is one clear example of that.

“But by and large, humans are still exhibiting the same behaviours we used to have. We still care, have interests, want to collaborate, and sometimes want to be alone. The pandemic lifted the curtain on a lot of these traits that humans share with each other, by restricting our ability to live them out.

“The sooner we embrace the fact that the speed of innovation, creativity and adaptability that we saw during the pandemic is actually something we’re capable of at all times, the better. At Lumo, we were able to launch Lens, a market-first audience measurement software, in the middle of lockdown. Knowing we were able to achieve that despite the daily hardships just makes me more inspired every day.

“We shouldn’t need to be backed into a corner to do amazing things. We should be able to do them every day.

Don’t be buoyed along by industry growth – lead it
If 2020 was the year we’d all like to strike off our books, 2021 was the year to remember forever. For as hard as the OOH industry was hit by Covid-19 lockdowns, the bounceback saw us reach new heights.

2022 is the year we beat that standard
“The WOOH conference showed me that every single player in the industry is back and ready to invest, whether that’s in capital, teams, infrastructure, business or innovations. The competition is ramping back up, and we’re sure to see a plethora of new innovations emerge.

“It’s clear to me, now more than ever, that OOH’s growth is driven by creativity and digital, and that’s not even to start on the power of programmatic DOOH (pDOOH). Knowledge and uptake of pDOOH has been slow so far, but it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the industry seizes the day, and dives into this space. Countless new opportunities are opening up for pDOOH – accessing these digital budgets and becoming omnichannel is going to be essential.

“At Lumo, we believe we have an inherent obligation to pursue tech-driven opportunities and to lead the way for our clients. It’s how we stay competitive. Today, all businesses need to be tech-first, and leaning into new innovations is just the first step.

“It’s impossible to distil all the discourse from the WOOH conference into a single article, but Kiwi brands needn’t worry. The rest of the world is looking to embrace the future – but I think New Zealand is already there.”

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