The mbcg Ten cOOHmandments

Like everyone, I have found lockdown to be a bit of a rollercoaster both in terms of personal emotions and the metrics with which I measure mbcg’s relative success.

Both have had their ups and downs.

Of course we have been hit hard by the closure of our sports clubs and pubs, but we are lucky to be able to have other networks that have continued to deliver audiences for our advertisers. And while we’ve lost a couple of long term advertisers due to the challenges facing their businesses and respective sectors, we’ve been able to replace them with other advertisers.

But I have found myself having more time to think about what we do, why, and how, which has been incredibly useful.

One of the things I have been thinking about is how to make sure I continue to do things the ‘right’ way.

One thing led to another and I ended up making a list of ten rules that I am going to print out and make sure I and the business adheres to no matter what happens as a result of the business’ future growth.

And that led to me thinking they were kind of like commandments and as mbcg is primarily an Out Of Home (OOH) media company, cOOHmandments. Geddit?

I’ll get my coat and let the video take it from here…

Anyway, here’s the list and why I think each is important…

1. We should always try to do things the right way.

Pretty self-explanatory this one; like making sure you say your p’s and q’s it doesn’t cost anything to do things the right way.

2. We’ll make mistakes, but it’s how we react that’s the important thing

An old boss used to say to me “it’s not a mistake until you make it twice”. That’s very true and something I’ve lived by since. Mistakes are part of life; it’s how you deal with them that matters – if we make a mistake and it affects your booking or business we’ll let you know, at the same time offering a solution.

3. We only use real-world numbers and logical assumptions based on those numbers to create our audience figures

None of our networks are on Route (in my opinion Route works for roadside networks but not really for those indoors) but one could argue (and I think very easily win that argument) that our data is probably a little more accurate anyway (I have never been told, nor can find, the sample size for Route) even though we round everything down:

Post Offices: we use actual transactional data and assume one person per transaction. This doesn’t include people who go to the counter with another person (not likely), or people who go to the counter but just pick up a form or ask for information (likely). It also doesn’t count the traffic from the convenience store part of the shop (more than 75% of our shops are also convenience stores). Our OTS is worked out by taking a low estimate of average queue time (8 minutes) and assuming a person is within eye-shot of the screen for 75% of that period.

Sports clubs: we use actual fixture and footfall data from clubs to work out our numbers. Then we make the assumption that the average footballer goes in and out of the changing room four times per game and cricketers five times (both lowballing). We could, I suppose, include an assumption that they might look at the poster in the room while they are in there for up to 45 minutes, but we don’t.

So, I think at least, our numbers must be some of the most robust out there.

4. We won’t use mock-ups without telling you they are mock ups

I don’t like how big OOH companies sell a visual medium with fake imagery. There can only be two possible explanations:

1. They can’t be bothered to go out and take some photos, or

2. They want their kit to look better in photos than it does in real-life

5. We will always try to over deliver for you

Underpromise, overdeliver. Simples.

6. We aim for the highest possible levels of service

It doesn’t cost anything most of the time, and on the occasions it does then I see it as an investment on our part.

7. We’ll offer you the right solution for you, not the right solution for us

I want to be able to sleep at night knowing that I have done everything right for the client, and also if I sell what is right it’s more likely to work for the client so they are more likely to come back – it’s not altruism.

I have worked at other media owners where there has been pressure to sell a particular thing, not the right thing, and I just don’t like it 🙁

8. We’re fair with landlord and partner payments

Without them we don’t have a business. It makes sense to me to treat them with respect and give them their dues.

9. We will always work hard to be as quick and creative as possible

10. We aim to pay not by invoice due dates, but in advance

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” Matthew (not me), 7:12


OOH are you new round here?

New to Out Of Home?

First let’s clarify what Out Of Home is as these days it can mean many different things. Out Of Home advertising is pretty much anything that you see on something that isn’t yours outside of your house. So, even though you see your mobile phone outside of your home it isn’t Out Of Home, it’s classed as ‘Mobile’. And while you may see the telly while at work or out and about, that’s still bought and sold media-wise as TV not OOH.

And why am I saying OOH? How about DOOH? What are these OOH’s and DOOH’s all about that you see on our (and likely our competitors’) website? Well it is ‘Out Of Home’ and ‘Digital Out Of Home’ and descriptors of what is sometimes simply called Outdoor (although that has fallen out of fashion a bit as much of Outdoor was, confusingly, indoors).

So OOH refers to any kind of media outside your home, on something not owned by you. It has many forms, or more accurately formats. Here are some examples:

1. Big landscape posters on the side of the road (called ‘roadside’) usually in 48 or 96 sheets size (48 sheets being the most common form and the 96 sheets being the wider format mega-billboards you might have seen). These can be both digital or paper (often called ‘classic’ or ‘static’).

2. Large format portrait, or ‘Mega6’s’. Usually found roadside or inside malls and airports.

3. Smaller portrait posters usually called six sheets. The kind of posters and digital screens you might find at a bus stop, in a shopping centre or inside an airport.

We’re not going to go in to the pro’s and con’s of each one. We see it as the other media owners’ jobs to sell their own stuff, so what we’ll do is focus on ourselves a bit instead; And I am certainly going to take the opportunity to give ourselves a little plug – after all we’ve written this and not them. What we do is specialise in delivering hard-to-reach audiences in hard-to-access environments. This gives us some advantages over other less controlled environments…



Since the TV audience fragmented as multi-channel became more mainstream, and press lost sales & readers to online, some people call OOH/DOOH/Outdoor the last broadcast media. We couldn’t really disagree with that, but to think that OOH/DOOH/Outdoor is a direct replacement for the old broadcast options is wrong. And nor is being ‘broadcast’ its best feature. It can be much, much cleverer than that if we think hard about it.

Likewise, to think all OOH/DOOH/Outdoor should be used in the same way is wrong. And this is where we get to the real benefits of Outdoor, or at least a large chunk of it: context.

This really comes in to its own when you think about how controlled we all are, whether knowingly or not, when we move inside a public area. Don’t worry, we’re not going to get all Minority Report on you just yet (although that time will likely come in the not too distant future), but where we feel advertising money is best made use of, or at least is used in a more efficient way, is indoors.

Why indoors? Simply because we know why people are there. In our specific examples: why are people stood in a Post Office queue? You can make a few guesses and you’re likely correct. Why are people in a golf club lounge? Again make a few guesses and you’re probably right. Why are people in a convenience store? Why are people in a football club changing room? I’ll stop there as you’ve hopefully got the idea.

So we know why someone is there, and that means you can make sure, or at least try, to make your advertising more relevant to them. What we’re doing is effectively taking a wide-ranging medium and breaking it down in to a more efficient chunk. In the same way as you would when buying a page in a magazine. It’s quite unusual for the same advertiser to buy a page in a football magazine and also a women’s weekly, and it’s the same with us. At the very least you would be running very different advertising in both the football and women’s mags. Just how you should be doing in outdoor.

DOOH vs. non-D-OOH

And that brings me back to the oohs and aahs of DOOH and OOH. What does this extra D really mean? For the sceptical it means the media owner doesn’t have to send out a person in a van with a ladder and a load of posters to stick up on the wall. It means we can just press a button and the ad is live. Or Not. So it means we can as reactive and flexible than any other media out there. It used to be that newspapers were the king of this kind of thing, now that crown has very much been taken by DOOH.

But instead of using it for the ‘wow’ factor, you can use that flexibility simply to make your money work harder. When are young mums likely to be using the convenience store? Either side of the two school runs. So if the convenience store is more likely to be full of young mums then why spend money advertising to them at other times in the shop? Yes I know it sounds like we’re playing the role of a turkey voting for Christmas here, but our idea is that you won’t reduce overall spend, just stretch it out longer. And you’ll come back for more when it delivers a higher ROI.

Add to that the fact you can use our screens to run full motion video and again it makes your money work harder. The theory here is that a moving image attracts attention more than a still one. If nothing else you relatively easily can use video content you have spent money on developing for use online, again making that creative investment work harder.

But beware, not all DOOH can let you do this. Because of the distractions it would pose to drivers you are not allowed to anything with full motion video within sight of a road.


It’s really simple, we try to focus on putting posters and screens in places where people are going to be hanging around (called dwell time). Whether that’s getting changed before or after a game of football or cricket, having a couple of drinks after a round of golf, or being in a queue in a Post Office, we think it’s better to have an advert in a place someone is stood in for a while as opposed to walking or driving past.

We’ll leave It there for now, as we more or less could go on forever on all of this, and there really is plenty more to talk about, but that’s just because we love what we do. If you want to hear more then please feel free to get in touch by using the details at the bottom of this page, or drop us a line via social media.


Not a lot of people know this…

Not a lot of people know this (I sound like Michael Paine from the Harry Enfield Show), but I run a digital signage screen in my local fish and chip shop Mac’s Plaice in Brightlingsea (details here).

It’s part of an experiment I am conducting in to sustainable community-owned digital signage networks in smaller towns that the big media owners can’t be bothered to digitise.

But anyway.

My point is, that this morning from the comfort of my bed, using ScreenCloud – Digital Signage‘s great system I was able to remove two local micro-business advertisers who I’m cancelling ad’s for and increase the number of plays for the restaurant’s delivery service. This whole crisis is surely going to result in people seeing that digital signage, and DOOH advertising, isn’t just about sticking some ad’s on and leaving it for two weeks and then changing it at the end of the in-charge, but more about seeing well-run networks as agile/nimble networks that can be used for the benefit of the venues/landlords, advertisers AND audience.

That’s what I think anyway. Now I will go back to being a nosey neighbour…

Case studies Thoughts

Creative thinking in OOH

It’s not only snazzy jazzy digital that is driving creativity in Out Of Home, it’s good old fashioned paper too.

Take this campaign in one of our grassroot football clubs as an example:

screwfix ooh copy change mbcg grassroots football

What’s so special I hear you ask? Well, what we’ve done is enable the client to change their artwork partway through the campaign so they can showcase an offer for the first couple of weeks and then have a more generic-type ad for the rest of the campaign.

This is only possible if you’re dealing with a media who a) gives a shit and b) knows where all of its posters are at any one time.

mbcg ticks both boxes.



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