2019: an interesting Dutch outdoor advertising year

By Fred Kuhlman • december 17th, 2019

Digital advertising in Amsterdam metro

2019 is almost over, so it is a good opportunity to name a number of important events in our field. For those who don’t read the entire article: we wish you happy holidays and a healthy and successful new outdoor advertising year.

Media spending continues to rise

Although there are no figures yet for media spending in 2019, we have the strong impression that 2019 was a particularly good year for most operators. The economy continued to grow and outdoor advertising grew with it. The share of 2m2 advertising (“abri advertising”) remains high (around 60% of all spending), but advertising towers also remain an important medium in the Netherlands.

Digital in top gear

Where other media still suffer from online spending, OOH can benefit from the rapid growth of digital objects. Along motorways, but also in cities, we see more and more digital advertising forms. Every place where many people come and / or stay for a longer time has become hubs full of screens. Advertisers can therefore use outdoor advertising better and more targeted.

In Amsterdam CS Digital Media provided two metro lines with high-quality digital screens, JCDecaux is busy building up the digital screens in Rotterdam and The Hague and Clear Channel (together with RBL Outdoor) has provided Utrecht with various larger and smaller digital screens.

Along motorways, analogue advertising masts are still being converted to LEDs, smaller municipalities are being given digital information signs along approach roads and even pylon advertising is now partly done digitally in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam.

Regulations under development

The growth of digital also requires better regulation. With regard to light intensity, most municipalities apply the NSVV policy (national light institute). Discussions are being held about allowing moving images and animation. Amsterdam has even banned the use of moving images, precisely to create tranquillity in public spaces. In most cities, however, moving images are permitted in pedestrian areas.

Operators, media agencies and advertisers have written a nice and clear position paper about digital out-of-home through the IAB. But there is still no clear connection with regulations from the government / municipalities. Here we can still explore and gain ground.

Sedum sedum and even more green roofs

The placement of bus shelters in Utrecht with sedum was initially without much attention, but after publications in international newspapers and insta-posts of influencers (Doutzen Kroes e.g.) it turned out to have been a golden hold. Bees have been given a house in the city, the busshelter turned out to be a means to show sustainability and citizens are happy with a green roof. Utrecht was overwhelmed with national and international attention (recently even received a prize). Many municipalities now also want sedum in the bus shelters. The shelters in the cities Nieuwegein and Gouda and province of Utrecht will soon be provided with green roofs and we expect that many more cities will follow.

Analog billboards are being replaced by digital 6.5 m2 LED screens

Outdoor advertising operators have suffered large losses on analogue billboards for years. Advertisers left the medium, but contracts with high payments continued for years. Most contracts have since expired. We are now cautiously seeing growth again in billboards. But then in a digital form and usually standing (“portrait”). Operators can also easily place campaigns in the 2m2 format. We expect that more and more cities will get this type of objects. They are already in Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and will be installed in Ede, Almelo and Diemen next year.

Growth and consolidation among operators

We sometimes say never a dull moment in operator country at NABBNET. We find the rapid growth of Hillenaar Outdoor striking. Jeroen Hillenaar and colleagues started again a few years after their departure from Clear Channel (that they originally started) and have since built up a substantial position. Suurland Outdoor has been sold to a private investor and Centercom has purchased a digital operator of billboards (company ‘Bereik’). Exterion Media bought the tank network of MMD Media.

The most important and largest acquisition took place by the English company Ocean Outdoor. This digital giant simultaneously bought Interbest Advertising Masts and Ngage Media. We estimate that this company, after Exterion Media and JCDecaux, has since taken over the third place from Clear Channel (in terms of turnover).

Dutch Railways loses court case

Many years ago JCDecaux started proceedings against the Dutch Railways, because the European rules for public procurement would not have been followed. After years of proceedings, the Court ruled in favour of JCDecaux on the most important points. In other words, the NS should have tendered. The court ruling has major consequences: from 1 December all advertising displays at the stations will be “empty”. That means white boxes in the analogue display cases and the digital advertising display cases are black, which means that the current operator (Exterion Media) is no longer allowed to sell this attractive medium for advertisers.

Sad loss of a few important outdoor advertising people

We unexpectedly lost three men this year: René Bubberman, designer of a particularly large number of shelters, Jan Wichers, co-owner of Hillenaar Outdoor and Michael Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Outdoor Media.


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