This month, we welcome Umut Senol, Managing Partner, Core Out of Home, Istanbul, Turkey
- I believe that you’ve worked on the financial side of both American and European companies in your past roles. Please tell us your business background and what drew you into the Out-of-Home/Digital Out-of-Home business.
I am a typical financial white collar manager. I started my career as an auditor in PricewaterhouseCoopers. My being drawn into the out-of-home business was just a coincidence: a headhunter called for the CFO position of Clear Channel Turkey, and that is how the journey started.
- An advertising company, Magic Tanitim ve Ilietisim AS, founded in 1994, was 50% purchased by Clear Channel in 1999 and then 100% in 2001. You bought the company from Clear Channel in June, 2016. Why was Clear Channel interested in selling? Was Core Out of Home not considered a growth company or did the fact that Turkey is a politically troubled country play a role? Has it affected advertising sales?
Clear Channel is a highly leveraged company, quoted on the New York Stock Exchange, and subject to a lot of rules and regulations. In this case, it was a little bit hard to make decisions and move quickly, which is an inevitable skill required for emerging markets. I think that was the main reason it was interested in selling.
Another was that Clear Channel had difficulties about establishing a sustainable local management team. Turkey’s troubles about its political base are not new; we are vaccinated to live with it. It has affected advertising sales, but just for a short term. Our biggest strength is adapting to new situations.
- Was the sale only for Clear Channel’s Out-of-Home properties, or were there production, creative or other associated companies or divisions included?
All of them were included.
- Shortly after you bought what is now Core Out of Home, you chose BroadSign International to power your networks. What made you choose BroadSign, and is it now used for all your various networks?
BroadSign’s point of view for the future of this industry fits very well with Core’s plans as well. The main reasons were especially the yield management of digital screens with an optimized system of reservation and, also, the readiness of the company for programmatic advertising.
- Core OOH operates in 13 cities with a total of 17,000 advertising faces. How many of these are Digital? What percentage of your advertisers are international companies?
For now, we have about 200 digital screens, but by 2020, we are targeting for more than 2,000.
- With Clear Channel out of the picture, what are your plans for Research and Development in the future?
We have a platform for the measurement of out-of-home assets together with JCDecaux and Ströer called ‘ACIAK’. We will continue to be a member of this platform. We also have strong relationships with all multinational agencies on these topics. Those relations will continue as they are, even stronger.
- Which do you see as your best growth possibilities: putting more products into cities where Core OOH already has a footprint, or expanding to more cities across Turkey?
We are looking at expanding in more cities, adding more shopping malls selectively to our portfolio. We also want to grow our bus wrapping business.
- You offer a wide range of products: on transit vehicles, at bus stops and stations, in stores and on storefronts, in and outside of malls. One of the most interesting ones I noticed on your website is referred to as 360. Could you tell us about this product and its ‘special application possibilities’ offering?
This is a very unique product. It is located in 30 highly central and busy locations of İstanbul. It is normally the advertising space of the state theaters. It is a triangular structure located in a cylinder, very compatible for digital conversion.
- What are the differences between Core’s Megalights and its other billboards?
Our billboards are parallel to the road, usually located four in a row. Megalights are located on junctions with a better view, and are backlit.
- Which, among all your products, do you feel has the most opportunity for growth and why?
Shopping malls have the biggest opportunity for growth for us, mainly because of ease of conversion to digital.
- I noticed that several banks are among your top advertisers. Which products do they use and how do they use them?
It depends on their products, but the banks usually use our widespread bus shelter networks and our amazing free standing units on the metrobus line.
- You have offices in three cities and offer products in 13. Do the audiences across them differ in terms of customer behaviour? And in advertisers’ needs for targeting?
Of course! Our audiences are differentiated, so we install a wide range of products based on the cities and the locations. For example, Zorlu and Kanyon are high end shopping malls in Istanbul, but very close to them, the metrobus line is one of most crowded lines, not only in Istanbul but in the world. Our main cities other than Istanbul are Antalya (which is the Tourism Capital of Turkey) and Kayseri (which is an industry location, a very important production center). They totally differ from each other in consumer behavior in terms of the social life.
- What are your thoughts about programmatic buying? Are you using it? Why or why not?
We are starting to use it. As the use of mobile devices is increasing rapidly, the shopping behaviours of people are changing, based on various applications. In my opinion, out-of-home programmatic advertising will be a very productive complement for digital advertising.
- Core OOH held an entertainment night for 350 guests. When was this and what were you celebrating?
This was held in November, 2016. It was to celebrate the launch of our new brand, ‘Core Out of Home’, replacing ‘Clear Channel’. It was held in the Raffles Hotel with the attendance of all the media planning agencies and some big direct customers.
- With Istanbul’s mix of architecture, from preserved ancient ruins to new ultra-modern, is it difficult to find real estate for DOOH products?
İstanbul has a complicated landscape, hilly, with high traffic and multi-central. This creates an opportunity for finding interesting places for out-of-home assets, but on the other hand, it is difficult to cover all the city with certain networks.
- Core OOH’s website gives explanations for the acronyms of various industry associations. To which of these do you/Core belong and why?
Core OOH belongs to Arvak, the association of out-of-home advertising asset owners, and ACIAK refers to the organization of member countries including Core OOH using the research platform for the measurement of out-of-home assets.