The trade organization said the decision was prompted by members who are battening down the hatches and focusing on ways to weather the worst economic downturn in decades. Reading between the lines, cost is also probably an issue--as many media executives slash ordinary expenses that were once taken for granted, including business travel.
The cancellation is especially ominous because in recent years, out-of-home advertising was one of the few "traditional" media to prosper, thanks largely to the rollout of new technologies, including digital billboards and digital out-of-home video.
The OAAA showed the industry posting regular year-over-year increases in revenue from 2003-2007, with increases of 5% in 2003, 6% in 2004, 8% in 2005 and 2006, and 7% in 2007. Overall from 1998-2007, out-of-home revenues increased 65%, from $4.4 billion to $7.28 billion.
But the party ended in 2008, with most big out-of-home advertisers reporting year-over-year declines in the second half of the year; year-end results from the OAAA are not yet available. Although the expansion of new digital platforms promises long-term growth, the next year looks fairly grim, given the wide-ranging retrenchment in local advertising, the medium's bread and butter.
The same cutbacks by retailers and other local businesses have taken even bigger bites out of radio and newspaper advertising revenue. In comparison, out-of-home's situation is less dire. If trade groups for this relatively successful medium cancel long-standing industry events, the implications for other traditional media are worse.