This roundtable discussion sheds light on issues and trends in a variety of outdoor-advertising applications.
Judd Morgan As in any industry, the recession has been a game changer. I liken it to a major technology change. You’d better be ready to do the research and be on top of it. People have more time now, and it spawned a more educated consumer, so you’d better know your product and get your staff up to speed. People have time to do more research, and because they don’t have the budget they once had, they may be bidding you against ten shops with which you wouldn’t normally compete. We’re being somewhat commoditized, and there’s a thinning of the herd in terms of options out there. The recession has taken out some of the shops that were only in one niche—mainly vehicle wraps, which were huge before spending was cut. I’d say that’s our hardest-hit area. You go from creating hundreds of wraps a year to 20 or 30. We put in vehicle wraps as a supplemental thing so that we can be a one-stop shop. Luckily, we have other things, like the building wraps and sports signage, to carry us through.
Brandon Gabriel We’re seeing a lot of consolidation in our industry. We’re starting to see more screen printers get into digital flatbed and roll-to-roll to diversify their portfolios. We’re also seeing technology advancements in terms of quality and speed and price—once you buy equipment and put it on the floor, it’s already outdated. We’ve also noticed a tremendous shift in the way our clients see large-format graphics as a part of their advertising spend. It has definitely overcome the sheet-fed-litho business. A lot of our clients want to have a wider approach to their film releases or retail releases. Now there’s a presence with outdoor advertising with a social-media component tapped into it. We’re also seeing clients use strategies where they might post one billboard rather than posting billboards all over the U.S. because they can get the same kind of impression and word-of-mouth online with one billboard. If you start a year in advance and get a billboard up in a high-profile location, and you get the blogs and social media (Facebook, Twitter) talking about it and posting that image all over fan pages, Websites, and other outlets, then you have one billboard that carries the message further and broader than you could with 50 billboards.
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