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Omar Oakes 

Ocean CEO Tim Bleakley: UK about to enter most important Q4 for 20 years

Ocean CEO Tim Bleakley: UK about to enter most important Q4 for 20 years

The next three months could be the most important period UK advertising for 20 years, Ocean Outdoor CEO Tim Bleakley suggested as the company’s revenue saw a “significant upturn” over the summer.

Ocean’s second-quarter revenue almost tripled (up 196%) to £25.9m, which Bleakley told Mediatel News was due a surge in demand that began in April as UK lockdown restrictions began to ease.

The UK market recovery has gathered at a much faster pace than that of Ocean’s other markets, such as the Netherlands, the Nordics and Germany, he added.

However, advertisers are still booking outdoor campaigns “very late”, Bleakley added, due to continued hesitancy in the market and media owners continuing to waive late-booking charges.

He explained: “[Advertisers] are still now booking campaigns into September. People are holding back and committing at the last minute.

“This means it’s very early to have visibility about how the festive season will look – the market is so short-term. But I can tell you the pipeline of interest is building as each week goes by.

“We’re expecting a very busy Q4. The fact is most business can’t afford to miss two fourth quarters in a row. This is probably the most important Q4 for 20 years.”

After operating a flexible furlough scheme, where staff come on and off of furlough at different times, Ocean asked all employees to come back to work in March.

Bleakley would not be drawn on whether late-booking charges would return any time soon, citing the need for media owners to be sensitive to supply-chain issues that are impacting many advertisers’ businesses in recent weeks.

He also remains confident that the out-of-home sector will recover to pre-pandemic levels in terms of “eyeballs” seeing screens, even if footfall does not return to pre-pandemic patterns.

“Westfield is already hitting 2019 numbers,” he said. “For our sector my strong belief is that OOH will recover to 100% in terms of eyeballs, but within that different people are spending different lengths of time throughout the week outside.

“People are not going to stay at home all the time, rather they are ‘working from OOH’…. Some environments will take longer to recover or won’t get back to 100%, but the medium overall will. That’s the beauty of our medium.”

Over the first six months of 2021, Ocean was appointed outdoor media partner for Edinburgh’s St James Quarter £1bn regeneration project and has signed an exclusive UK digital content deal with BT Sport to broadcast Champions League match clips in seven cities.

It is also rolling out DeepScreen, a tech product that creates the illusion of 3D images, across its large format full motion portfolio in all markets.

In today’s half-year financial report for 2021, Ocean Outdoor also reported:

  • H1 Billings increased 9.1% to £48.4m (H1 2020: £44.3m)
  • H1 Revenue up 11.2% to £40.6m (H1 2020: £36.5m)
  • Q2 2021 revenue up 196% to £25.9m (Q2 2020: £8.8m)
  • Q1 2021 Revenue up 52% vs Q1 2019 improving in Q2 to 78% of Q2 2019 – trajectory anticipated to continue in Q3
  • Adjusted EBITDA (including IFRS16) increased 12.0% to £15.3m (H1 2020: £13.7m)
  • Adjusted EBITDA (excluding IFRS16) decreased 7.1% to (£4.7m) (H1 2020: (£4.4m))
  • Cash of £29.8m (H1 2020: £35.6m)

Ocean’s portfolio comprises the Piccadilly Lights and the BFI IMAX in London, while it also works closely with major landlords such as Landsec, 

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), the BFI, and the Canary Wharf Group.

(Pictured, above: The Two Towers, Canary Wharf)

Mediatel operate two essential services for the OOH industry. SPACE is a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart and is the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of inventory in the UK. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution that enables easy integration of Route audience data into client's systems. See mediatel.co.uk for more information.

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