OOH Hot List 2010


Most players in the space -- which is growing and evolving into new formats every day -- are private, small companies, startups that didn’t exist a few years ago. There is little financial information to go on and scant research that tracks revenue or ad dollars. So a lot of this list is subjective. It’s also hard to compare these smaller companies with the three giants that have dominated the traditional space (Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor and Lamar, the first two of which are represented) and are also innovating in the medium. For those companies, some real metrics are available.

The result of exhaustive research by Mediaweek senior editor Katy Bachman, we based our choices on a few, simple criteria. Is the audience growing? Does the company have staying power? Is the business helping to grow or evolve the medium, either through creating a new category or innovating one that’s been around for a while? Is the company helping to consolidate the space, making it easier for advertisers to access the medium and deliver reach?

The result is a diverse list, one that spans the growing diversity of the OOH space, from the giant publicly traded companies to the private digital startups. No doubt the list will be controversial, but we look forward to your feedback.

With movie advertising red-hot and impossible to ignore, national TV advertisers are sprinkling cinema into their media plans, occasionally breaking campaigns on the silver screen before rolling out on the tube. National CineMedia, the larger of the two cinema rep firms with 16,800 screens, reaches 60 percent of all moviegoers and 70 percent in the top 10 markets. In a tough year, NCM added 38 first-time clients and lured back 18 clients that advertised in 2006 or ’07. This year, NCM is being asked by the biggest agencies to present during the TV upfront season. NCM is also expanding its revenue sources beyond on-screen advertising, rolling out interactive lobby capabilities, using off-hours to run events, and extending its presence on its year-old Web site. The next frontier: 3-D. In April, NCM aired its first 3-D ad, and its three largest chains are planning to install digital projection systems in 14,000 movie theaters. Finally, NCM last year bought a minority interest in RMG Networks (No. 6 on our list). Shown: A 3-D ad for Samsung. (See also: "OOH in Depth: Movie Mogul")

2009 revenue grew 1.5 percent to $335 million, largely on digital screens (NCM has the most, with 15,400). > National ad revenue, representing 87 percent of the total, was up 6.1 percent. > In June 2011, NCM will add about 900 additional screens representing 30 million cinemagoers when Consolidated Theatres and Rave move over to its network from primary rival Screenvision (No. 5 on our list). > Monthly reach is 35.3 million persons 18-plus and 48.1 million persons 2-plus, per Nielsen’s Fourth Screen Report.

Francois de Gasp Beaubien, Zoom’s main owner and top executive, is in the place-based ad business to stay, and to consolidate. In the last 18 months, Zoom -- backed by $30 million in funding from partner ABS Capital Partners -- made six acquisitions building out three networks (Social, Fitness and Family) across 10,000 venues. To boost local ad sales and strengthen its business model, Zoom just a few weeks ago acquired Sports Display, giving it a ready local sales force of 100. Zoom’s Fitness Network has nearly tripled in size to more than 1,650 health clubs; nearly 1,400 have been converted to digital, making it the largest in its category. In more than 3,300 bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the top 50 markets, Zoom’s Social Network has doubled in size since ’08. In the last year, Zoom has run digital ad programs for more than 100 clients including AT&T, CBS, Coca-Cola, Colgate, Gatorade, HBO, J&J, NBC, Paramount Pictures, Reebok, Showtime, Turner Networks, VH1, Walt Disney, Verizon and Walmart.

Zoom says total revenue has grown at a compound rate of 35 percent annually since 2003 (being private, it doesn’t release revenue). > Fitness and Social Networks reach more than 54.5 million monthly, per Nielsen’s Fourth Screen Report. > Social Network is No. 1 for targeting men, reaching 20 million monthly, per Nielsen.

Reaching growing numbers of Wi-Fi users when they access hot spots, JiWire currently has no competition. The company has locked up exclusive relationships with about 40 Wi-Fi operators to offer advertisers front-page inventory when consumers access Wi-Fi hot spots. The network increased its locations by 22 percent last year to more than 30,000 Wi-Fi hot spots in high-traffic, long dwell-time locations: 10,000 hotels reaching 13 million a month; 100 airports reaching 4 million a month; and 7,000 cafes reaching 3 million a month. JiWire continues to build out the industry’s first in-flight, ad-supported Wi-Fi with partner Row 44. Last year, JiWire partnered with Nielsen Claritas to integrate lifestyle data into its location-based metrics. It also introduced a Wi-Fi app for the iPhone and upgraded it in March, creating a new ad opportunity. The app is now a top 10 utility for the iPhone, according to Apple.

JiWire doubled its ad impressions last year; it forecasts 200 percent growth in 2010 as more people access Wi-Fi hot spots. > Revenue growth up 150 percent in first-quarter 2010 compared to Q1 ’09.

Unless you’re into staring at strangers, there’s nowhere to look in an elevator except at Captivate’s small screens, one of the earliest success stories in place-based advertising. More than half of Captivate’s viewers identify it as their primary news source. Founded in 1997, Gannett snapped the company up in 2004. It’s a well-defined network reaching a desirable business target in 20 markets (of which 15 are in the top 20 DMAs) and has worked with advertisers including Sprint, General Motors, ESPN, FedEx and Amtrak. Leading a move to incorporate programming into out-of-home video networks, Captivate was among the first to create its own news unit, hiring editors to make sure its content fit the environment. Captivate has also evolved into a multimedia brand, posting blogs from its journalists on a Web site to provide more in-depth news coverage. In April, Captivate rolled out its newest innovation: giving advertisers the capability to embed real-time content into ad messages, such as snow reports for ski lodges or CD rates for banks.

With estimated 2009 revenue around $30 million (Gannett’s broadcast group doesn’t break it out separately), Captivate’s sales execs hope for double-digit revenue growth in first-half 2010. > Captivate added 300 new screens last year in the top three markets. > Nielsen’s Fourth Screen Report pegs reach at 31.3 million monthly.

The second-largest cinema rep firm (after No. 1 NCM) with a network of 15,300 screens in 2,500 theaters (7,800 of them digital), Screenvision has racked up a lot of firsts: the first 3-D ad for Wrigley’s Skittles; the first live ad with Daffy’s in New York’s Ziegfeld Theatre (pictured); and the first use of live interactive on-screen polling with Sprint. Also with Sprint, Screenvision pioneered an interactive in-lobby polling station featuring a scanner that provides theatergoers with redeemable coupons and other theater discounts, in more than 500 theaters. To strengthen its lobby marketing, last year Screenvision partnered with Cinema Scene Marketing to offer in-lobby interactive kiosks, 3-D ad displays and other lobby tech; by year-end, they were in 300 lobbies. Screenvision continues to roll out its 3-D screen capabilities, now in 1,500 theaters. Departure of top management in April does raise questions about ownership, but the company remains stable for now.

Inked 27 deals with theater chains representing 3,444 screens. > Each month reaches 36.5 million people 2-plus, and 26.4 million 18-plus, per Nielsen’s Fourth Screen Report. > Revenue grew 4 percent last year; national revenue was up 5.5 percent (it doesn’t disclose revenue). > According to Screenvision execs, 2010 is pacing 25 percent over ’09, driven by business from autos, health and beauty, retail, packaged goods and consumer electronics.

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