Ok, so it’s probably the only auction process to hit the outdoor industry, but nevertheless, we can’t wait.
The London 2012 sponsors, their agencies and specialists are under starter’s orders as the online bidding opens for business.
For the first time in Olympic history, LOCOG has chosen to bring all the outdoor opportunities together and offer them for sale via an online trading system – so even if no Olympic records are broken, we’ll at least establish a media first or two.
The process has been designed to be as fair as possible and give IOC partner brands, as they are known, an even shot at the opportunities of offer by presenting the media, and access to it, in a consistent way.
To protect their interests, the IOC arranges for all partner brands to get first option to buy outdoor advertising for the Game across a 12 week period from 25 June to 16 September, 2012.
And all, we believe, are hoping to establish a strong visual presence in the towns and cities hosting the events.
Outdoor media owners have been busily assembling their wares for many months. The online shop window opened for browsing on 1 March and there has been a flurry of activity while everyone checks out what’s available, and firms up planning and buying strategies.
All of which is no mean task – there are 34 different outdoor media owners, offering almost 4,000 different packages for sale with a combined value of just under £250m.
There is the full gamut of outdoor opportunities represented, from taxis, tube trains, ATM’s, airports, river boats, billboards, bus shelters, digital signage at stations, spectacular building wraps and more.
So there’s something to suit every communication need, and every price-point from a few hundred pounds to several millions. The sheer scale and diversity of outdoor on offer across the UK means that all partners should have no trouble buying the level of presence they desire.
The window opened for live trading in a series of managed rounds that finish by 30 June.
The very best opportunities will be auctioned to the highest bidder – these include sites in the close vicinity of each venue and the spectacular opportunities in each city and the associated airports.
The more regular packaged inventory will be offered on a fixed price “buy now” basis. On 1 July, any unsold space is returned to the outdoor companies and normal service is resumed.
We can expect a busy day’s trading on 1 July as non-sponsors review the best of what is left unsold and seek to ensure their own presence at London 2012.
I am personally fascinated to see how well the platform works as a conduit for trading – both the auction stage, and the “fastest-finger-first” buy-now stage.
Without doubt there will multiple interest in certain choice packages, which means potentially rising prices, and changes of strategy, at auction stage.
For those less quick off the mark at buy-now stage, too, there will need to be some quick reaction switches to plans B and C. Perhaps the outdoor specialists have bussed in a truckload of trigger-happy teenage gaming experts to make sure they don’t miss out.
How much will be traded in the window? That’s anybody guess. £50 million would seem to be a good amount to look for. £100 million would be excellent.
Whatever the outcome, the auction process has made outdoor the most accessible medium for sponsors to engage with the public during the Olympics Games period, both those visiting venues from other parts of the UK, and especially to overseas visitors who will access little in the way of other media.
As a way of “owning” the cities and making a permanent visual mark on the Games, outdoor is unrivalled.
We’ll keep you updated.