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Breaking Down Barriers – A Look into the 54th Annual FEPE Congress

Attending a conference for the first time can be similar to the first day of school. As a new member of FEPE International, Broadsign was represented by a sizeable delegation at Berlin’s Hotel Adlon to listen, learn and liaise with 270 attendees at the 54th Annual FEPE Congress. Referred to as a “boutique show” by FEPE International’s General Secretary, Mark Flys, out-of-home elite made their way from over 35 countries to reunite for another memorable event. Looking around the Welcome Cocktail Reception, the atmosphere was like a schoolyard after summer break – friends eager to catch up and have fun, all while mentally preparing for another year of hard work. Lucky for Broadsign, FEPE members are very amicable and we were quickly welcomed into their social circle.

Picture of Hotel Adlon
The Hotel Adlon

The location of the event could not have been more appropriate. Berlin is a dynamic city (think pristine stone buildings adjacent to modern architecture with a slight touch of grunginess for some added colour) and its rich history could, on a macro level, be compared to that of OOH. East and West Berlin were once divided yet have since united to form a truly special place. In a similar fashion, OOH is no longer looked at by advertisers and agencies as a medium separate from more traditional means of communication but complementary to them. All sides of broadcast media have begun to converge in hopes of developing an unprecedented, incredible community.

It is difficult to divide the factors contributing to the consolidation of the OOH space; though they may be independent concepts, all rely on one another to provide added value to advertiser and consumer spheres. Themes such as real-time data collection and reporting, mobile phones and amplification (the latter two are discussed in more depth in this article’s successor) surfaced in many of the FEPE presentations, with interaction being a key word linking much of the overall thought process.
To say that the level of enthusiasm regarding today’s state of the industry was high would be an understatement – even digital out-of-home was referred to in some way by every speaker who stepped on stage. With that being said, though a boutique show offers many advantages to select shoppers of a niche market, a quick visit to a mass trade event – such as FESPA/European Sign Expo, reminds us that OOH is still a small section in a giant department store.

Antonio Alonso, President and CEO at CBS Outdoor International, pointed out that only 6% of media investment is in OOH. In order for this number to grow, he asked that competitors no longer see themselves as such and instead focus on the remaining 94% as a source of new business revenue. By breaking down barriers and broadening horizons, an industry once segmented will have the chance to bind, forming a whole Black Forest cake (if you will) from which everyone may take a bigger slice.

Television and other broadcast media will continue to be a significant part of spending but DOOH screens will allow for a new ecosystem with increased interaction between media – and OOH has much to gain from this equation. Just like Checkpoint Charlie, a Cold War crossing point between East and West Berlin, exists today as a reminder of what once was, traditional media will remain in advertising campaigns among new means of communication generating innovation and exciting new opportunities.

Photo of Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie

Part II of the 54th Annual FEPE Congress review can be found here.