Clear Channel Outdoor has now rolled out nearly a thousand digital billboards across the U.S., steadily increasing the medium’s presence on American roadsides despite frequent community opposition and legal restrictions.
In the last quarter alone it installed 49 new units, bringing the total to 963 in 37 markets. They still represent less than one percent of its outdoor estate of around 125,000 advertising structures, but are seen by management as critical to growth.
“We are investing aggressively in this business, especially on digital displays and other innovative infrastructure, to accelerate our growth in the future,” said executive chairman Bob Pittman.
And they are contributing to the bottom line already, helping to compensate for declines in revenue from conventional posters. Said CEO William Eccleshare: “Our results in the quarter continued to benefit from our strategic digital investments, even with weaker demand in parts of Europe.”
But Clear Channel Outdoor is also facing growing competition in digital billboards, not only from its principal rival CBS Outdoor but also from Lamar Advertising, which spent $7.9m on new units in the first three months of the year.
In the quarter ending 30 June, Clear Channel Outdoor recorded revenue of $761m, about three percent down on the same period in the previous year. However, when calculated excluding the effects of exchange rates, revenue grew by one percent.
The picture was similar at CBS Outdoor, which in the same quarter recorded revenue down about two percent on last year at $481m, but up one percent when exchange rates are ignored.