Eric Newman CEO of Talon Outdoor

Submitted by: Shareena Patel 06/10/2015

Eric Newnham, CEO of Talon Outdoor, explains why print will have a significant role to play in outdoor media for some time to come. In outdoor media, people have talked in recent years about print being overhauled by new technology, just as they have in other areas. But that’s still a long, long way from happening, and I actually don’t think it ever will.

           "The digital element of outdoor media is the latest thing, yet the majority of our investment is still in paper"

Obviously the digital element of our medium is the latest thing, and we make sure we’re up to speed in terms of technological developments in the industry. Yet the majority of both our investment and our clients’ is still in paper. Digital is not the be-all and end-all, and in outdoor advertising, print will have a major part to play as we go forward, which is true of most areas of the media.

Of course, print has its strengths and weaknesses compared to digital. Obviously the entry cost is cheaper in terms of the structures that are there, because screens are much more expensive than your classic boards. Some of the weaknesses include the fact that it’s labour-intensive to actually put it up on site, compared to digital images, which, if the infrastructure is there, can be changed instantly. But in terms of basic messaging, print has a major role to play. Quite often in advertising, when we’re looking at seconds to grab someone’s attention, over-sophistication works against you. When I think some of the classic campaigns, digital couldn’t really add anything and sometimes less is more. Some of the great images of my career are the Benetton ads and ‘Hello Boys’. Then, going back even further, the classic cigarette adverts. These are simply outstanding images and strong messages that would work on any canvas. There’s a print campaign around at the moment for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and it doesn’t do much more than reinforce the famous purple branding. And it doesn’t need to – it’s a reminder of the brand and it’s very, very simple.

Young people’s lifestyles may be increasingly oriented in different ways, around gaming and tablets and phones, and they play a big role in how they spend their time. But I still think that if they’re sat on a tube train, they will have the same take-out from a tube card or a magazine advert as adults will. I see print working together with new technology, not against it. With NFC and other new methods of combining a signpost to your mobile phone, there’s going to be a lot more interaction between media. And print has a major role to play in that.