OOH is constantly transforming, so the Outdoor Media Awards' new category will reward contributions towards social change

Each year, we proudly host the Outdoor Media Awards with our friends at Campaign to celebrate our incredible medium – out of home. And what a year we’ve seen: exceptional campaigns have graced streets up and down the UK, from powerful, data-driven dynamic creatives to simple, yet heavy-hitting, copy on paper posters.

Our market is changing – the number of major OOH media owners has gone from six to four and changes by the Mayor of London and TfL have provoked much discussion around HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar), and the responsibility of advertising and media. Despite the transformations, OOH continues to soar.

OOH is unique due to its very physical nature – it sits at the intersection between the public, local authorities and businesses. We’re mindful of the impact we have in those spaces and it’s vital our actions bring real value.

Hundreds of millions of pounds generated from OOH revenues each year are passed back into communities up and down the UK, chiefly through rents to local councils and transport authorities.

A sizeable portion of that sum is the public utility and street furniture installed at no cost to the taxpayer: projects such as Edible Playgrounds, which directly target childhood obesity, and urban tree planting, which we’re delivering with Trees For Cities. We’re not that far away from a world of billboards with pollution-eating biotech, widespread solar-powered units and bus shelters made from recycled plastics.

With all of this in mind, I’m proud that we’ll be announcing a new category for this year’s Outdoor Media Awards that will reward a brand or organisation that has used OOH to make a real difference towards social good. The category will shift and evolve in coming years, mirroring some of the challenges society faces and new technologies introduced. “Love Happens Here” by Pride In London, which took home last year’s Multiple Format Award for its intelligent and compelling campaign, is the perfect example of a cause deserving of nomination in this new category.

More charities and projects for social good are turning to OOH than ever, to help carry those key messages far and wide, in the assurance they are aligned with a medium that wants to actively improve our world.

Why OOH over other media forms? It’s in a league of its own to make bold public statements, for building brands and long-term reach to an audience. Roadside and pedestrian digital panels, such as our Adshel Live network, provide the perfect platform to trigger positive action.

Ours is an offering that’s proven to work and hundreds of brands rely upon it to help deliver targets. Great creative with great out of home is what the Outdoor Media Awards are all about and it’s always enjoyable being able to discuss entries with a media Who’s Who of judges.

We’ll celebrate the winners in our usual way – an exciting evening at The St Pancras Hotel on 11 June. But before then, every brand and agency that’s booked OOH this year should also be giving themselves a quiet pat on the back for investing in a media form that is helping to make a difference to the world around us and the communities in which we all live.

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