2021 – A(nother) Year in Review!
Adam Malone, Co-Founder & President at Screenverse
Here we are again. The second annual Screenverse Year in Review!
No-one could have predicted this!
When we founded Screenverse in April, 2020, we expected that COVID-19 would persist for some months, maybe a few quarters, but the disease would be contained in due course. Soon the dams would be opened and people would flow through the world as they always had, while advertiser demand would follow close behind.
That is not, in a few words, what happened.
Luckily for us, we set out to build the Screenverse digital network and business as a financial adviser might compile a basket of assets – stocks, bonds, real estate – for her clients. We were very purposeful in the partnerships we struck with network owners, we followed audiences, sought counsel from demand partners, and invested in data, technology, and talent that would help us minimize risk and maximize reward for our partners.
How’d we do..?
2021 was another unsteady year for OOH; especially for anyone who owns or sells media that isn’t narrowly defined as a Billboard.
Data published by the OAAA shows that not only did the overall industry revenue shrink considerably from 2019 highs, but the percentage of revenue earned by Billboard owners skyrocketed, from 63.8% in 2019 to 84.1% through the first half of 2021.
The other side of that equation saw Street Furniture, Transit, and Place-Based Revenue-Shares contracted significantly. Place-Based media owners were the hardest hit, as they saw their share of the pie evaporate from 11.5% in 2019 to a paltry 2.8% in the first half of 2021.
While it appears to me and others that the back half of 2021 was a little better for Place-Based media owners, it is clear that the first money spent in OOH is going to Billboard owners and, if stock prices are any indication of financial performance, the publicly traded Billboard owners in particular.
According to analysis done by Billboard Insider, the three public OOH companies all outperformed the S&P500 in 2021.
There were some other bright spots, of course, as the programmatic platforms had banner years, leveraging their growth to attract fresh capital to develop their business lines and technologies.
While the technology providers are seeing their value propositions born out in real time, there has been innovation and consolidation on the media side as well.
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and while many believe it necessary for the OOH industry to standardize its universal measurement currency to attain new levels of growth and market-share, 2021 was a step sideways at best.
I wont belabor the drama this year between Geopath and OAAA. There are well-founded arguments for whether the proper metric should be “likely to see” or “opportunity to see” when adjudicating OOH impressions. What is clear to me is that a universal impressions standard is an “opportunity” that will “likely” deliver real value that will move the needle for OOH advertisers and media owners alike.
2021 was a year of growth for Screenverse.
- We grew our Team => 10 new teammates
- We added new Partners and Inventory => 6 Partners and ~42,000 Screens
- We grew Sales and Revenue => +4.5x YOY
- We were Profitable again this year and grew EBITDA => +50% YOY
“Our Success comes down to our People and Partners” – David Weinfeld
We were blessed this year to add 10 new people to our team!
We started the year with a bang by Acquiring the Danaher Group and in so doing adding senior sales, marketing, research, and operations leadership in Susan Danaher, Victor Germain, and Taylor Chiulli. In July we added two west-coast sellers (LA, and Denver) who know how to build digital media sales businesses in Susan Jaget and Tim Kennedy. After adding all of that sales talent, we needed to fill in our technical and media operations team to balance our services and prepare ourselves to scale. We were excited to welcome Junko, L.A., and Morgan in October, along with our VP of engineering, Erik Osmond, who is helping us centralize and enrich our data, tie together the systems we use every day, and giving our clients new levels of insight. Finally, in late December we offered Phil Donahue the opportunity to lead our midwest sales efforts.
We are committed to caring for, investing in, and developing our people. This year we offered full health benefits, 401K matching program, and authorized ongoing education benefits for the full team. We also created an employee stock options program that will reward our teammates as the business grows in value over time.
[We are hiring for multiple positions in sales, sales planning, engineering, marketing, and research — please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!]
We are betting on the growth of On-Premise and In-Retail:
Our big focus from the beginning has been to build a leading on-premise digital advertising network in essential businesses; Retail Grocery, Big Box, Pharmacy, and Convenience. In 2021, we secured new partnerships in Grocery, Pharmacy, and Point-of-Care to double down on our offering to advertisers who want to engage shoppers in healthcare environments and influence consumers at the point of care and the point of purchase.
Another pillar of our network is the TouchTunes digital Jukebox network. It is the largest digital network in Bars & Restaurants in North America and it is an absolute on-premise juggernaut. Available in all 210 DMAs, we can reach almost any audience and do so with both precision and scale! We saw hopeful signs in the Jukebox usage data in the summer-time and around key sporting-and-cultural events, but some markets have been slow to open and advertiser perceptions have hurt demand for on-premise advertising even as traffic and sales data have returned to pre-pandemic levels. Advertisers are leaning in to NFL playoffs, March Madness, and appear to have “priced in” a fully open economy by early-spring 2022. We’ll drink to that!
Enlighten – one of the nation’s largest Cannabis Dispensary network – is a perfect compliment to TouchTunes in reaching active and influential millennials. Both networks are age-gated and deliver 21+ audiences in brand-safe environments. As more states move to full Marijuana legalization and more research is done on the “Cannabis consumer”, the more interest and activity we expect from mainstream advertisers. We have already booked major campaigns in 2022 around the 420 “holiday” season, and leading brands in entertainment, DTC products, delivery services, and healthcare are connecting with their audiences via the Enlighten network — and this is just the beginning!
We are getting in front of Urban and Young Professionals where they Live and Work:
Advertisers are clamoring to reach Millennials, Gen Z, and Urban Professionals who consume way less ad-supported media than other demos. No-where have we seen more of a shift in consumer behavior than in this audience. This year we worked hard to find partners who offer 360 degree access to this coveted audience, at scale.
Two of the most exciting developments in 2021 were our partnerships we launched with high-end Residential and Office lobbies via theBulletin and TouchSource. We know now that the future of work is going to be a mix of work from home and go in to the office. Why not develop a media network that reaches urban and young professionals every day, no matter where they decide to work?!
We got out there in the Real World!
Finally, 2021 was our year to truly extend our offering from digital place-based, to digital OOH, to digital media in the Real World.
Our partners at SPIN, Smartify, and Corner Media significantly invested in growing their networks of 55″ street-level portrait displays in major US markets. These screens are big, bright, and represent new and impactful inventory in markets like DC, LA, and Miami where traditional OOH media is scant or inaccessible for many advertisers. We will also soon be announcing an exciting new partner in the EV charging space – a company who has deployed dozens of charging structures featuring 75″ landscape screens – and has plans to rapidly deploy many more charging stations in 2022. Watch this space!
As we look ahead to 2022, there seem to be more questions than answers.
We face many challenges that will affect our businesses:
- Will Supply Chain issues persist, affecting advertiser demand as well as inflation?
- What will happen with Interest Rates and the broader capital and consumer economy?
- Will Digital Buyers and Omni-channel DSPs mold DOOH in their image?
- How will new capital, startups, and consolidation reshape the industry?
There are are many MORE reasons to be optimistic about what 2022 will bring:
- Our Industry has smart, awesome, people who know how to be resilient in tough times.
- There is pent up demand for services, events, and experiences around which [D]OOH campaigns flourish.
- The discussions around cookies and privacy will put a premium on [D]OOH media that delivers targeted audiences in relevant environments.
Most of all, we are grateful for the opportunity to build a business in such a dynamic and interesting world!
We look forward to working with new Partners, Customers, and Team Members in 2022 and beyond.