Omar Oakes
Jan 12, 2021

Publicis Media exits Posterscope deal to bring OOH buying in-house

Omnicom and Havas remain the only major ad networks in the UK that use external agencies for the bulk of outdoor media-buying.

Vodafone: last year's 'best 5G' campaign was bought by Carat and Posterscope on Global roadside sites
Vodafone: last year's 'best 5G' campaign was bought by Carat and Posterscope on Global roadside sites

Publicis Media has moved its out-of-home buying in the UK into its own agencies—ending a 27-year relationship with Dentsu’s Posterscope.

In a statement, Publicis said the move would bring OOH planning and buying in line with its other media services, and Publicis Media would bring together data, insight, commerce and content expertise to provide a “unique view” on engaging customers through outdoor advertising.

Pannie Hopper, head of out-of-home at PMX, Publicis Media’s trading arm, will be in charge of a core OOH planning and investment team that includes the Publicis media agencies Starcom, Spark Foundry and Zenith.

Hopper said: “We have always taken an innovative approach for delivering OOH planning solutions within our agencies. 

“The integration of our full OOH services has been 18 months in the making and means that we now have the capability and a robust framework to deliver end-to-end, location-based media solutions for our clients.”

The move spells the end of Meridian Outdoor, a 50-50 joint venture set up by ZenithOptimedia (now Zenith, part of Publicis) and Posterscope in 1994.

Meridian Outdoor began providing specialist outdoor planning resources to Zenith, Equinox, Saatchi & Saatchi and Bates UK. Over time, it began outdoor media for then indie agency Walker Media (later acquired by Publicis and now part of Spark Foundry) and eventually for all Publicis agencies.

A source familiar with Meridian said Publicis’ move to bring OOH media buying in-house had been mooted for some time. Continuing to outsource it was considered no longer tenable at a time of significant cost pressures on the business amid the pandemic and economic downturn.

The business was running a £53,000 operating loss on revenues of £2.69 million (up 68% year on year), according to its latest Companies House filings for 2018. It also had an average number of 18 employees that year.

The rationale for employing an outdoor buying specialist is that Posterscope has a deeper and more sophisticated set of data and tools for poster and screen sites.

The company has an extensive record of prices paid for ad campaigns bought on specific OOH locations, for example, and has added expertise in buying for the so-called long-tail of UK advertisers that, while individually small spenders, are collectively significant.

Now Omnicom and Havas are the only major UK advertising companies that use an external agency for the bulk of their OOH media-buying, namely Talon Outdoor. WPP and Interpublic Groupe buy through their respective in-house agencies, Kinetic and Rapport.

Posterscope services OOH media buying for Dentsu agencies Carat and Vizeum, but about half its business comes directly from smaller brand advertisers and smaller independent media agencies.

Sue Frogley, chief executive of Publicis Media UK, added: “Despite the obvious impact that Covid has had on the OOH sector, it remains one of the most effective ways to target people on the move and an important part of the media mix for brands. 

“By completing our integration journey, we now have the opportunity to evolve our offering further and make location-based marketing more connected with the strategies in place for our clients. Consequently, this marks the end of a long and successful partnership with Posterscope and we wish them all the very best.”

Campaign UK

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