Out-Of-Home Not Running Out-Of-Gas, Report Finds Outdoor Exposure Stable

Rising gas prices have indeed changed consumers' travel habits, but those changes have not resulted in less exposure to out-of-home advertising, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. The industry organization was rebutting an annual report from Vernonis Suhler Stevenson and PQ Media, which found that time spent with out-of-home media slipped in 2008, blaming high gas prices for the decline.

Out-of-home's reach and frequency have remained "virtually unchanged"--even as consumers react to high fuel prices by driving and flying less, the OAAA asserted. Regardless of gas prices, most Americans still have to go to work, prompting many to turn to public transportation, which offers equivalent exposure to out-of-home media via buses, subways and commuter rail.

Ride-sharing also exposes individuals to the same volume of out-of-home media (potentially more if they don't have to drive). And an increase in visits to theme parks and regional attractions suggests continued use of interstates.



While exposure to out-of-home advertising may have remained stable, there is some irony in the OAAA going on the defensive. In January 2007, the OAAA released a report that gleefully noted that "Americans are spending more time in their cars than ever before as commute times are significantly up, traffic is more congested and the baby boomer generation mainly moves via auto."

Virtually alone among traditional media, out-of-home advertising enjoyed a string of strong years from 2002-2007, frequently posting revenue growth in the high single digits--but the rate of growth slowed to a more modest 3% in the first quarter of 2008, compared to the 8% growth rate in the first quarter of 2007.

But VSS remains positive about out-of-home advertising, forecasting a cumulative annual growth rate of 10.3% through 2012. At this clip, out-of-home ad revenues should rise from $7.9 billion in 2007 to $12.9 billion in 2012. That's more than double the projected growth rate for advertising in general, which VSS pegs at 4.3% per year through 2012.

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