Out-of-home is an industry brimming with some of the brightest and most creative thinkers working in tech today. Here at Broadsign, we consider ourselves fortunate to have such top talent on our team, including one of the most recent people to join us, Savvas Tombouloglou. Savvas is an out-of-home veteran of nearly 20 years, and joins us now as an account executive for EMEA.
Before becoming a Broadsigner, Savvas held high-profile positions at a number of prominent OOH businesses. Most recently, he served as the Director of Creative and Delivery at the content production and network management company Voodooh. Before that, he was Head of Digital Innovation and Head of Digital at JCDecaux, and he got his start in OOH in leading one of the first digital-out-of-home design teams at Avanti.
More than an expert and thought leader, Savvas is something of an out-of-home evangelist—he lives and breathes the medium, and one of the things he’s most passionate about is helping others discover its creative potential.
We sat down with Savvas to hear his perspective on where out-of-home is headed next, what inspires him most about working in this industry, and all he hopes to accomplish in his new role at Broadsign.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your history working in the DOOH space?
I was attracted to the DOOH space because I came from a TV and film background—there’s a connection between moving screens, engaging content, special effects, and advertising. At the time, out-of-home was a new market. Nobody in the UK was doing digital screens at that point, so when an opportunity came up, I went for it.
I started at Avanti, and they were doing everything from media sales to installation and even had their own CMS. We knew early on that the out-of-home space was evolving, and we were what that meant. There was a debate about whether screens should feature TV ads or transform what was traditionally paper onto digital displays. From a technical and creative perspective, the start of digital out-of-home was a journey into the unknown, and that was the beauty of it.
Back then, Avanti ran a content department, allowing us to create specific content for our clients. One such client was a UK-based retailer—we installed screens in their stores showing products and displaying prices, becoming one of the first instances of this technology being deployed. This retailer was a great project; it had a fantastic set of screens and helped brands build audiences. Though the company ultimately folded, we had a lot to show from this experience, including an uplift in sales and powerful creative messaging. That was a big lightbulb moment—we realized we were onto something. From there, I worked on campaigns that were considered “out there” and began looking into data-driven content—one of the first projects we did was installing a real-time newsfeed onto a screen.
My time at JCDecaux was about supporting companies who knew where they wanted to go. By this point, I was working on projects I could put my heart and soul into. It was about making sure agency ideas were brought to life.
Voodooh was perhaps my most significant step, which meant showing people what could be done with OOH on a global scale and that you didn’t have to be a big brand name company to invest in the medium. Showing clients that campaigns didn’t have to be overly complicated was a huge breath of fresh air.
How do you think your experience in OOH will inform the work you do as an account executive?
I hope to bring my experience, stories, ideas, and relationships to the team. I want to be able to preach out-of-home. I want my clients to see me as the person to ask out-of-home questions and get an honest answer. I want to help them develop ideas and guide them in the right direction for their campaigns.
Whether I’m working with an experienced media owner or someone starting, I want to communicate how out-of-home is about stories and experiences. I also believe you engage more with a client with whom you have a relationship with, someone who you can honestly share with them, “That campaign went well.”
How would you describe Broadsign’s role in the OOH industry, and is there anything in particular that you find exciting about joining our team right now?
The beauty about Broadsign is that we’re not new players in this industry, and we’ve got a good track record for being capable and reliable. In the past, whenever a company told me that they were using Broadsign, I breathed a sigh of relief—because when you’re running this platform, you’re in good hands. Broadsign is digital out-of-home.
Besides that, everyone working here comes from so many different backgrounds, and they’re all bringing fresh ideas to the table. We’ve got such a cool company that can push this medium forward. I’ve always loved the CMS and that Broadsign was the foundation behind so many screens. Now, I have the opportunity to work with the people that I’ve always worked with, but I have Broadsign behind me.
What do you find most compelling about OOH as a medium?
What makes out-of-home such a compelling medium is that it is constantly evolving and pushing boundaries. That, and the creative possibilities with this format are endless.
What needs to be done to encourage more buyers to deploy dynamic or otherwise technically complex OOH campaigns?
Brands need to be brave and dare to experiment with campaigns. I also believe that some of the best dynamic campaigns are those that are simplest—after all, as Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
If you have an idea, never be afraid to talk to your publisher or media owner about it because they will appreciate having that conversation. They’ve got the resources and the team to help guide you. I think it’s about the idea and the notion. These screens are alive; they’re not just static billboards. They should be treated as intelligent screens. If you can create a campaign that has a hook, you’re telling a story, then you’re using out-of-home to its full potential.
Lastly, I always try to keep the following DOs in mind: Do be relevant to your audience, do not cost the earth, and do deploy effortlessly.
What has been a major pain point as DOOH has developed to become more creative and dynamic?
The biggest pain point with OOH is its cost. That, and the fact that in the early days, clients were only booking DOOH because it was part of a media plan—no consideration was given to it as its own format. Even if it’s a part of an omnichannel campaign, I encourage clients to think about out-of-home in its own right and see how it links up with everything else and consider out-of-home as important as Facebook or TV ads.
What are the OOH trends you’re most excited about?
One of the trends I’m most excited about is that we’re starting to see that the use of data is becoming increasingly important in this space. And that more brands and agencies are coming to recognize the benefits of OOH in omnichannel campaigns.