Wide Open: Outdoor Grew 7.9% In 2Q

The outdoor advertising industry is still booming, maintaining a 7.9% growth rate in the second quarter, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. That equals $2.2 billion in total ad dollars.

The growth is especially noteworthy as the industry has now sustained an 8% annual growth rate for several years in a row, with each quarter building on a growing base dollar amount. Taking the longer view, outdoor revenues have increased every year except one (2001) for almost 15 years in a row, increasing from $2.64 billion in 1992 to $6.81 billion in 2006.

The second quarter of 2007 saw increases in seven out of 10 categories--led by communications, which rose 38.5%, thanks to the booming business in mobile phones, PDAs and other personal devices, as well as competition between telecoms and cable companies. Automotive accessories and equipment grew 17.3%, while auto dealers and services rose 5.9%.

Interestingly, outdoor continued to enjoy strong growth in the insurance and real-estate category with 13.9% growth, despite the slump in the housing market. The OAAA attributed the outdoor medium's gravity-defying performance to builders that turned to billboard ads to publicize unsold inventory as the market began to decline.

Housing woes, fueled by the subprime mortgage crisis, have taken a bite out of other media that previously benefited from the housing boom, including online advertising and newspaper classifieds. The real-estate classified category, in particular, fell by double digits at most major newspapers in the second quarter. (Industry-wide figures aren't yet available from the Newspaper Association of America).

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