Why an Out-of-Home Advertising CEO Is Bullish About Digital

Scott Wells talks real-time marketing for traditional media


Current gig CEO, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas

Previous gig Operating partner, Bain Capital

Age 46

Why join Clear Channel now?

I'm coming from the operational part of Bain Capital, so my job was to work with companies on change programs and innovation. I've been affiliated with Clear Channel for a while and know the business quite well, and I was excited to get back into an operational role again. I look at the out-of-home business and there's a lot of opportunity—this is a great time as we look at penetration of digital in our business. We look at how we complement other media and are getting better at articulating that and better at making it clear to advertisers the impact that we're having on their campaigns.

A lot has been made about traditional out-of-home budgets moving toward digital. What do you make of that?

We bring a scale that digital can't. As we continuously improve our measurement and the ability to articulate the impact that our assets have on campaigns, I'm quite confident that we're going to see dollars continue to flow to out of home for digital as well as for our traditional assets.

How do you compete among the likes of Facebook and Twitter?

Having been a buyer of digital media, I know the difficulty of rolling out a campaign at scale. You can't DVR around us—we are a present part of the landscape and with our digital elements, we have the ability to be very real time. The statistic on mobile device usage is 60 percent of it is consumed in the home, and we are out of home with the consumer. We're highly complementary to what people are doing.

What does real-time marketing mean to you?

We can change our copy on all material—the most obvious example would be putting scores in a sporting venue. We're actually working on a campaign right now where the copy is going to change based on how heavy the traffic flow is.

You've also worked for Dell and AT&T in the past. Will that brand experience play a role at Clear Channel?

A lot of what my career has been about is applying technology to solve business problems. When you think about out of home and where it is, in order to become a more agile medium, we're going to have to apply technology. That's a big part of what I'm going to be focused on.

What got you interested in advertising?

I started out selling for AT&T. For Dell, I was working with the large business-to-business parts of the U.S. business. So, I have a great appreciation for the role that advertising plays in driving growth and how important it is to have your ads reach at the scale that you're looking for.