OUTDOOR MEDIA ASSOCIATION
The Outdoor Media Association (OMA) was established in its current form in 2005 as the national body serving Australia’s out-of-home media display companies and production facilities, as well as some media display asset owners. Its core activities include marketing and research, and cultivating relations with government, media, and community groups. In 2010, its 33 members accounted for 97 per cent of revenue generated through outdoor advertising.
At the beginning of the 20th century, statebased bill posters’ associations were already fighting council attempts to curtail outdoor advertising. These associations were incorporated in 1939, forming the Outdoor Advertising Association of Australia (OAAA). During World War II, the battle to minimise government interference heightened, and it would remain a concern throughout the post-war decades. The OAAA would also seek to standardise outdoor advertising operations.
Outdoor advertising content became contentious in the 1970s. BUGA-UP, an anti-smoking activist group, highlighted advertising’s persuasive influence by defacing billboards. Arguing that it was not responsible for advertising content, the OAAA was in part dependent on tobacco advertising. Moves by state governments to prevent tobacco companies from advertising outdoors in the 1990s inevitably elicited a vigorous but ultimately unsuccessful campaign from the association.
A spate of overtly sexist advertisements in the early 2000s compelled the OAAA to take a more proactive stance on content or risk government intervention. Together with other advertising bodies, the association prepared an advisory paper and a cautionary checklist concerning content. Members were also advised to take down any advertisement that was deemed offensive by the Advertising Standards Board—regardless of the client’s stance.
The changing media landscape had a significant impact on outdoor advertising. As television’s primacy declined, outdoor sites were being upgraded and extended into new areas. While most advertising appeared in roadside locations (as billboards and on street furniture), airports and retail centres were becoming more important. The organisation’s name was changed to the Outdoor Media Association in recognition of the expanding range of out-of-home media used for advertising.
The OMA’s active support of audience measurement technology seeks to underscore the cost efficiency of the medium, and to ensure that the right consumers are exposed to the right messages. The association’s ongoing efforts to safeguard the industry by way of liaising with government and other stakeholder groups, as well as its adoption of a Code of Ethics, were rewarded in 2011 when a parliamentary inquiry recommended against government regulation of outdoor advertising. In 2013, $544 million was being spent on out-of-home advertising.
REFs: R. Crawford, But Wait, There’s More … (2008); http://www.oma.org.au.