Outdoor 2016 Review: oOh!media expects low double digit growth in 2017

It was a year of big deals for Brendon Cook and his team

The chief executive of oOh!media reminded Mediaweek of the good old days leading into Christmas when people took their feet of the accelerator. “These days we all sprint,” Brendon Cook told Mediaweek. “With short being the new norm, I have never seen an outdoor industry where we are still booking into December [on December 5]. That is a sign we have the ability to move quickly and that clients have trust in the quality and capability of the industry.”

UPDATE: APN Outdoor and oOh!media to merge – Brendon Cook in charge, Richard Herring departing, deal to close around April 2017

He said he was sure all his staff would like to have a good break over the Christmas/New Year period. “They will all be very tired when we finally close the year.”

It was a year of big deals for Cook and his team. He counts the December 2015 deal to acquire InLink as the first of the transactions that set the scene for 2016. “We had always had our eye on the office sector and that if we could consolidate that sector it could help accelerate the medium. It is pleasing to be able to achieve that now with the recent Executive Channel acquisition as they were the other main competitor in that space.

Brendon Cook

Brendon Cook

“We also bought Junkee Media to accelerate what we were already doing in content to give us a far stronger creative content platform. That takes our online sites to eight, but more importantly it gives us the capability to combine content and out of home.

“We also bought the print business Cactus. It wasn’t about buying a print business, but it was about realising the classic inventory of out-of-home is still extremely powerful and its audience hasn’t declined. We wanted to be able to control the supply chain and have the ability to print the outdoor jobs the way we wanted to.”

oOh!media was a big spender on overhauling existing networks with a spend of over $30m. “We are already ahead of our original forecast for the number of large-format digitals we would have approved. We have also extended our large-format digital banner network into major shopping centres.

“We’ve had a massive year in many, many massive ways, but it is all part of delivering that broad reach audience we are after.”

As to continued investment in upgrades, Cook said they were halfway to the target of 100 large format digitals. “We have 50 already and there will be more investment to reach our goal.

“There have also been changes in the development of the shopping centre market where there is a lot of massive investment under way. Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast is a classic example of that. That opens up new opportunities to add new technologies and new products. There will be ongoing investment in retail as more investment goes into modernising shopping centres.”

As a big acquirer of businesses over the last decade, Cook was asked if there was anything else left to buy. “You never say never, but from our point of view we are very focused on extending audiences and investment in our core products.

“The office market was a new audience for us, and there are not too many new audience sectors left for us. Investment in our core products and growing them is equally as important as acquisition these days.”

oOh!media outlook: “Even though we have now had many years of growth on growth on growth, I still feel low double digit growth is achievable. The sector has a few strong headwinds and we still under index in terms of percentage of the media pie in comparative markets. However, the product we have here and our ability to deliver audiences in classic and digital are unsurpassed anywhere in the world. As long as we also continue as an industry to invest in data and research then we will have the ability to grow the medium past where it sits today.”

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