This month we welcome Randy Otto, President, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, Toronto
- You are a huge company but weren’t very visible in the digital sector until the past couple of years. There’s been a major change seen. Tell us about this and the strategy behind it.
Pattison Outdoor has had a presence in digital Out-Of-Home for quite a number of years. A notable asset was our large digital board on the corner of Yonge and Bloor in Toronto; installed in the late 90’s for CTV and recently removed as the property was developed. As technology has progressed and digital out-of-home is becoming more reliable and affordable from those early installations in the 90’s, we have continued to invest in both large digital boards and in digital networks. In the past few years, Pattison Outdoor has had a number of significant milestones in our digital growth. These milestones have given us more media exposure than before. But it is not indicative of our ongoing involvement and commitment to this form of out-of-home.
- You now have about 90 digital horizontal screens and spectaculars. What is the difference between them? Are they an area where we’ll see expansion?
In 2008, we installed the first in a series of large outdoor LED screens displaying static advertisements on a multiple ad loop. Today, we have over 90 screens ranging in size from 10′ x 20′ to 14′ x 48′ in Canadian markets from Vancouver to St. Johns Newfoundland. We will continue to grow our inventory of digital posters and spectaculars in markets where municipal bylaws and market demand make these boards feasible for us to grow.
You recently won the rights to the Toronto Transit Commission beginning Jan.1/12. Will we see a lot of changes compared to what TTC now offers? Will this include digital screens inside or outside the vehicles? Please explain your reasoning.
The Toronto Transit Commission request for proposal for this new contract specifically requested bidders to offer new and innovative ideas for advertising on and within TTC buses and subway cars, as well as in the TTC subway stations. Pattison Outdoor, using the expertise of Onestop Media, included a significant number of new ideas and products which we expect to role out over the course of our contract. Without a doubt, the opportunity to use digital products in our offering played a significant role in how we crafted our offer to the Toronto Transit Commission.
You also recently won the rights to the West Vancouver transit shelters. In some cities around the world we’re seeing digital, and even 3D without glasses in transit shelters. Are we going to see any digital in the West Vancouver or other transit shelter properties?
We closely monitor new products and technologies in the area of digital displays for street level products such as transit shelters, street ads and even the backs of bus benches! The challenge today is finding a high resolution, quality display, capable of handling the wear and tear of accessibility at the street level, with an affordable cost that makes digital transit shelters economically viable. We expect that this will happen in the foreseeable future, and when it does we expect digital displays in transit shelters will become commonplace in Canada.
- What does the acquisition of OneStop Media Group offer you? It has been your property since last March. Will it continue to run as a separate entity? Can it be a catalyst for further expansion? If so, how?
We are very excited by the opportunity to be working with the team at Onestop Media Group through the acquisition that took place in March. We had worked with them on a joint venture to build a digital mall network and appreciated the depth of knowledge and vision they had about digital out-of-home, particularly in the area of place based digital networks. The Onestop Media Group brand has a very strong connotation with the Media industry in Canada for digital leadership, knowledge and quality. We want to work with them to ensure that Onestop will continue to be that “go to group” for this kind of leadership in digital in Canada. With the support and strength of the Pattison Outdoor brand behind them, we believe that Pattison/Onestop has a significant platform for growth in the world of digital Out-Of-Home.
I believe you now offer some kind of an interactive mapping resource in the Out-of-Home sector. Tell us about it and how it differs from others?
We recognized a number of years ago that our website was an important portal for both existing and prospective advertisers to learn about our company and our products. Putting all of our inventory on a mapping resource and then allowing the user of our mapping resource to “pin” retail sites, create their own lists of surrounding products, pull down site photos of individual locations, or use goggle streets to drive by a particular board, literally gives them control of our inventory. But it is really when we are in our client’s office, working on their computer screen to view our inventory across town or across the country, that the ability to view, download and create specialized location lists and maps becomes an exciting media tool for advertisers to use.
- Your company has won all sorts of awards. Have any of them been for digital?
Numerous awards have been presented to Pattison Outdoor and Onestop Media Group for the innovative use of digital technologies in out-of-home advertising. They are not won by us, but rather by our clients and advertisers, who develop new and exciting ideas and ways to use digital media to deliver their message.
- Tell us about Pattison Eyewitness as a campaign management software. Is it a software developed in association with another company or developed in-house. What does it offer clients, agencies, and your own company?
We are very proud of Eyewitness.* It was launched two years ago as an online resource centre for our clients to find all their advertising campaign information in one location. From the initial advertising proposal, contracts and contract revisions, location lists, mapping, billing schedules, invoices, as well as real time photos of every creative installation – Eyewitness puts all the information to manage a campaign in one easy spot for the Advertiser, their Media buyer, creative department, accounting and campaign audit team to get any and all the information they need to place, monitor and manage a buy at Pattison Outdoor.
* (Eyewitness is a trademark and wholly-owned product of The Siroky Group Inc.)
- I believe you are Canada’s largest out-of-home company. Do you have any plans to expend beyond the Canadian borders? If so, where and when?
We believe that Canada is a very dynamic country with significant opportunity for new out-of-home product growth, including digital out-of-home. While we watch with interest the out-of-home industry elsewhere, we are very excited about the opportunities that exist in the markets we are in today.
- What is your personal background and how you ended up in your current position?
I started in the outdoor industry with a small outdoor company in western Canada after completing a business degree at the University of Alberta. Shortly after I joined Hook Outdoor, it became part of the Jim Pattison Group in 1981. I continued in outdoor until 2000 when I moved to Orlando, Florida and joined the Ripley Entertainment Group, also a Jim Pattison Group company. I remained with Ripley’s until 2004, after which I returned to Canada to head Pattison Outdoor Advertising.
- What are your thoughts about social media and mobile? Is Pattison integrating these into its offerings?
We believe that social media and mobile present a great new way for advertisers to integrate their message through out-of-home right into the hands of the consumer. The technology is changing rapidly and new opportunities present themselves daily. The challenge is to have the advertiser understand how to integrate social media into their advertising strategy and how out-of-home can help deliver that strategy to the consumer.
- What do you think is the key to Pattison’s success?
Pattison Outdoor and Onestop Media are made up of amazing group of very talented people, with a passion for what we do and a drive to get things done. Customer satisfaction, from a job well done, is the only measure of success that we really concern ourselves with.
- The Jim Pattison Group is reportedly Canada’s third largest privately-held company and holds properties outside the OOH and DOOH sector including Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and various companies in the food sector in Canada and the U.S.. Are there any plans to put digital screens in any of these properties?
Within our group of companies, we are called on to be a resource of information and understanding for digital products and digital networks. Where we can assist in helping them develop digital products, we would do so.