Merger will put product innovation on fast track

On July 23 More Group will hold its last shareholders’ AGM and will become part of Clear Channel Communications of San Antonio. In keeping with all things Texan, the combination of More and Eller – Clear Channel’s US outdoor company – will be big. In fact the biggest outdoor advertising company in the world, with 200,000 panels in 24 countries producing sales of more than $750m (457.3m) a year.

So what? As everyone knows it’s not size that matters, but what you do with it. The enlarged More will be part of an $11bn (6.7bn) media group with the deep pockets to take the outdoor industry to the next level.

Innovative and international outdoor operators like Avenir, JC Decaux and TDI have been investing to create better communication solutions for advertisers. More has been part of this process, but will become even more active in the future. Adshel – More’s street furniture business – is developing touchscreen computer terminals to go into bus shelters to provide travel and tourist information. Those same terminals can provide coupons and product information linked to the advertising running on the shelters. With a budget of 500,000 and an experiment limited to the UK it would have taken some years to get the product onto the street. Now, with 500 cities worldwide to help spread the cost, it will happen much sooner.

The combined Eller/More runs more than 10,000 different advertising campaigns around the world each year. All that creative work – the good, the bad and the awful – is being captured on a digital database. If an agency wants to see how airlines are using outdoor around the world, it’s going to be just a Website away.

Flatscreen video displays are going to provide a high impact new medium in the next few years. Networks of panels linked by fibre-optics will produce a powerful and flexible new advertising medium in the centre of towns.

Audience measurement such as the UK’s Postar and effectiveness data like the Adshel Research Monitor (TM) is making outdoor more acceptable and valuable to advertisers. Drawing on worldwide best practice, the enlarged group will be offering improved information to help advertisers plan their campaigns more effectively.

Global buying deals are unlikely, as negotiation will continue to be done at a national level. However, standardisation of formats will mean global creative solutions become a reality, making outdoor, potentially, the most international of all the advertising media.

The More Group/Clear Channel deal has been very good for More Group’s shareholders who saw their share price rise from 4.50 to 11.10 in just over two years. Hopefully, it will now be good for advertisers and agencies, as the increased scale and resources are used to make the outdoor medium better.

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