Giving Back – How Outdoor Advertising Invests in Local Communities

A freshly released report by PwC, commissioned by Outsmart, provides significant insights into the UK’s Out of Home (OOH) advertising sector. According to the report, 46% of OOH revenue directly benefits the UK economy. 

In 2021 alone, the sector contributed £411 million to public services, infrastructure, communities, and employees. The study, which surveyed OOH Media Owners representing 92% of the industry revenue, also reveals a positive trend towards sustainability, with over 90% of electricity consumption coming from renewable sources.

At Bay Media, we find these figures highly relevant, particularly as they align closely with our own practices and ethos. As the UK’s leading provider of lamppost banner advertising, we have long-established partnerships with local councils, and in 2022, we returned over £970,000 to these councils.

This article aims to dive a little deeper into the state of the OOH industry, its community impact, and sustainability efforts.

The State of Outdoor Advertising

Economic Impact

The new report sheds light on some remarkable figures. While online advertising might take up a significant chunk of marketing budgets, outdoor advertising is still a formidable player, boasting a consistent growth trajectory. This sector creates thousands of jobs, from installation crews and design teams to sales personnel and marketing strategists. Furthermore, it serves as a medium through which a myriad of sectors—be it retail, entertainment, or even public services—can connect with their target audience.

Trends in Sustainability and Environmental Consciousness

One of the most promising trends highlighted in the report is the growing focus on sustainability. Companies like Bay Media are leading the charge by integrating eco-friendly practices, from recycling banners to initiating tree-planting ventures. This aligns with a more extensive industry trend to reduce waste and adopt renewable materials, reducing the ecological footprint of outdoor advertising.

Regulations and Community Concerns

The landscape is not without its challenges, as public opinion and local regulations often scrutinise the industry’s impact. Different councils have distinct preferences for what kind of campaigns they wish to host, from council messages to cultural and touristic campaigns. This reflects the community’s voice and concerns, shaping outdoor advertising’s role in local settings.

Examples of outdoor advertising campaigns from Bay Media and other companies in the industry (click to zoom)

Bay Media’s Role in Community Development

Partnerships with Local Councils

At Bay Media, our collaboration with local authorities is the cornerstone of our community engagement strategy. In 2022 alone, we returned more than £970,000 to councils across the UK. This symbiotic relationship allows us to offer impactful advertising while also supporting local initiatives. Some councils use our platform exclusively for public service campaigns, conveying crucial messages directly to the public, whereas others prefer cultural and touristic promotions that benefit local businesses and institutions.

Revenue Sharing Model

Our revenue-sharing model is designed to offer financial benefits to local communities. By allocating a significant part of our turnover to councils, we help to fund community projects, infrastructure upgrades, and social programs that enrich residents’ lives. Given that we’re the biggest provider of lamppost banner advertising in the UK, our model sets a precedent for how businesses in this space can collaborate with public entities for mutual gain.

Focus on Sustainability

As part of our commitment to a greener future, we have implemented various sustainable practices. From recycling our PVC and fabric banners to initiating a tree-planting venture, we continuously look for ways to reduce our environmental impact. These efforts have been well-received by the local authorities we partner with and stand as a testament to our commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Outdoor Advertising as a Force for Good

Community Outreach through Council-Led Banners

Outdoor advertising has unique advantages when it comes to community outreach. Our experience shows that council-led banners are an effective means of communication, having installed over 10,500 in 2021 alone. These banners, strategically located and creatively designed, amplify important council messages, whether it’s about public health initiatives, cultural events, or community-building activities.

Environmental Initiatives

The industry as a whole is increasingly focusing on environmentally friendly practices. At Bay Media, we’ve been part of initiatives that champion the planting of broadleaf trees in the UK for every 10 banners or every £1,000 our clients spend. This kind of creative linkage between advertising spend and social good is an emerging trend in the sector, one that benefits both clients and communities.

The Future of Community-Driven Outdoor Advertising

The industry report suggests that community-driven approaches are likely to play an increasingly vital role in the future of outdoor advertising. As brands become more socially conscious, the role of outdoor advertising in fostering community well-being will continue to expand. Whether it’s through partnerships with local organisations or adopting more sustainable materials and technologies, the path ahead is one of innovation, collaboration, and a stronger focus on community enrichment.

The Future Forest Company’s work on The Glenaros estate (where many Bay Media trees have been planted)

The Social and Economic Impact of Our Partnerships

Stimulating Local Economy

One of the less-discussed but equally important aspects of our work is how it stimulates local economies. Advertising local businesses or touristic landmarks on our banners not only brings in revenue for the councils but also helps small and medium enterprises (SMEs) get more exposure. This creates a chain reaction: more exposure leads to more customers, which leads to more revenue for both the business and, indirectly, the community through taxation.

Public Awareness

The sheer volume of council-led banners we install every year enables a wide range of messages to reach local residents effectively. From promoting community events to sharing important public health messages, these banners serve as a public bulletin board. This form of advertising has a unique power to foster a sense of community and keep residents informed, engaged, and connected.

Social Programmes

Our revenue-sharing model has enabled councils to invest in various social programs. Whether it’s enhancing public libraries, opening community centres, or initiating environment-friendly programs, the revenue we share is often channelled into projects that have a long-lasting impact on community well-being.

A Blueprint for the Industry

As we celebrate the launch of the  new industry report, it’s clear that outdoor advertising has the potential to be much more than a tool for commercial exposure. Through thoughtful partnerships, commitment to sustainability, and a focus on community well-being, outdoor advertising companies are redefining what it means to be a business in this space.

This form of advertising, when executed responsibly and innovatively, can serve as a force for good. It offers a unique platform for community engagement, environmental responsibility, and social impact. At Bay Media, we’re proud to be at the forefront of this movement, and as we reach beyond the UK into Europe, our commitment to local communities remains the same. We aim to replicate our success, not just as a business model but as a community enrichment strategy, in every new market we enter.

The Industry’s Push for Sustainability

The industry report illustrates a palpable drive across the sector for more eco-friendly and sustainable practices. These aren’t just buzzwords; they’re manifesting in real, impactful changes in how the industry operates.

Use of Renewable Energy

One of the standout examples from the report is the increasing adoption of renewable energy sources to power digital billboards and signs. Whether it’s solar, wind, or other forms of sustainable power, the industry is making a collective effort to reduce its carbon footprint.

Reduction of Raw Materials

Another notable trend is the decrease in the usage of raw materials. By opting for recycled or more sustainable materials, like we do at Bay Media with our post-campaign PVC and fabric banner recycling, the industry is cutting back on waste and environmental impact.

Transition to Electric Fleets

A growing number of companies in the industry are making the switch to electric or hybrid fleets for installations and maintenance. This transition helps to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, much like Bay Media’s own fleet meeting ULEZ and Clean Air Zone standards across the UK.

Our Commitment: What Comes Next

In the realm of advertising, Bay Media and the outdoor advertising sector at large are making strides in redefining what it means to be community-centric and environmentally responsible. From sharing a substantial portion of our revenue with local councils to delivering targeted campaigns that resonate with local communities, the efforts are multifaceted.

Bay Media’s commitment to sustainability, particularly our tree-planting venture and recycling initiatives, align with broader industry trends focused on reducing environmental impact. With collaborations between advertising firms and local governments becoming more common, and as the sector increasingly embraces sustainability, the role of outdoor advertising in community development and environmental responsibility is only expected to grow.

Additional Resources/Links

Full Industry Report: Supporting UK society: The impact of the Out of Home advertising sector
Bay Media’s Sustainability Initiatives
Recent Bay Media Campaigns

Contact Information

We’re always eager to discuss how Bay Media and the outdoor advertising sector can better serve local communities and drive sustainability. If you have questions, thoughts, or ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us at enquiries@baymedia.co.uk or call us on +44 (0)20 8343 2525.

Bay Media are an outdoor advertiser based in the UK and Europe, and the largest provider of lamppost banner advertising services in the UK.

Contact us to find out how we can help boost local awareness of your business or event.