Reflections on the 2018 FEPE Congress

Reflections on the 2018 FEPE Congress

When the subject of any discussion is Italy, thoughts typically turn to enchanting vistas, exquisite wines and delicious food. This year, it was also the host of the annual FEPE International Congress, an event that brings together OOH professionals from around the world to network, compare notes and learn from one another for the betterment of the global OOH industry.

The 59th version of the Congress, dubbed “Framing Our Future,” was held earlier this month in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast. For those not entirely familiar with it, the FEPE International Congress is a perfect mix of international exhibitors, compelling content, well-deserved award recognition and constructive networking among people from around the world who work in and simply love the OOH industry. This year’s Congress hosted 405 delegates representing 40 countries across the globe – a record attendance for the organization’s annual event.

I had the privilege of hosting the inaugural meeting for the Global Research Leads – a new group representing measurement organizations similar to Geopath across 10 different countries. With the goal of inspiring greater cross-border collaboration, we initiated discussions on a variety of topics.  The meeting kicked off with an update on the status of measurement in each of our regions, including data types we are utilizing, formats we are measuring, and whether or not we are integrating visibility adjustments into our metrics.  (All but one of the countries represented is currently using some form of visibility adjustment.)

I found it incredibly interesting that so many of the countries represented are either currently investing in or testing the waters on investing in updated measurement systems that provide increased granularity for the out-of-home industry in their countries.


We identified several areas where global measurement bodies can collaborate, including:

  • Sharing best practices on expanding the formats being measured (including digital) in countries where there are currently gaps
  • Identifying proven ways to roll out new functionality to membership while minimizing friction and maximizing adoption
  • Despite the many languages we all speak – agreeing upon common measurement definitions
  • Sharing learnings from tests with various data sources
  • And so much more!

It was a fantastic beginning to a process that will bear fruit as we continue to work together in the months and years ahead.

As I reflect on this year’s Congress, it is striking how similar the pervasive themes were to those that emerged from the Geopath/OAAA Out-of-Home Media Conference & Expo held in Austin just a few weeks ago. At both conferences, the key theme was “collaboration.”

It was widely agreed that, while each country’s market has its own nuances, unique elements, opportunities, challenges, regulatory hurdles, etc., we need to work together to advance OOH and overcome shared challenges.

FEPE President and Ocean Outdoor Chairman, Tom Goddard, succinctly and effectively summed up the ways in which the international OOH community can work together to move the medium forward to everyone’s benefit. According to Goddard, the global industry needs to more readily and speedily adopt technology, continue to develop better ways to measure attribution, enhance and encourage collaboration, foster new talent, elevate our collective game around creativity and embrace automation.

One night, after the conference agenda had given way to a degree of revelry, a number of us gathered around Goddard at the piano in the hotel lobby.  (He is quite a talented musician).  We were all in the mood for a melody, so an impromptu sing-along ensued.

It may be a bit cheesy, but at that moment, it dawned on me that, despite the fact that most of us come from different countries, and speak many different languages, we were all singing the same tune (albeit slightly off key). To me, it was a metaphor for the value of the Congress and the goal we should aspire to reach – different companies doing different things in different parts of the world but pulling together to “sing the same song” in advancement of our industry.

For us here in the U.S., the Congress provided an opportunity to gauge where we stand in relation to the broader global market and underscored the great strides we’ve made domestically. But it also served as an excellent reminder that there is a larger, global ecosystem that we can and should continue to tap into and with which we can work in tandem in areas like research and measurement. There are differences in our respective landscapes, but we share many of the same challenges and opportunities.

I say to all of our global friends…andiamo!