O’Donnell on YESCO, out of home and Blip

Patrick O’Donnell, president YESCO Outoor Media

Pat O’Donnell, President of YESCO Outdoor Media was recently inducted into the OAAA Hall of Fame in honor of an out of home career spanning 35 years.  O’Donnell started with Donrey Media Group in Reno, Nevada in the 1980’s.  He joined YESCO in 1985 and has been instrumental in the company’s growth.  O’Donnell also serves as a Vice Chair of the OAAA Board of Directors as Chairman of the Legislative Committee and on the boards of Geopath and the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising, Research and Education (“FOARE”).  Insider interviewed O’Donnell last week.

Pat, how did you enter the out of home business?
My dad had a small sign and billboard company he started in Placerville, CA after WWII. My first foray into the business was digging holes for wood pole structures in the 60’s. After military service and college I went to work for the Donrey Media Group in sales in their Reno, Nevada office. A few years later I joined YESCO.
What’s a typical day?
A typical day for me is meeting with our key people in sales, real estate, operations, and administration. My job is to clear the path for each of them so they can do what they do best. We have great people and I function predominantly in an advisory capacity. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the vision.
In June 2016, YESCO Outdoor partnered with Blip to help sell digital billboard space.  What is Blip and how has it helped YESCO?
YESCO was an early adopter of digital out-of-home. We now operate 40+ digital bulletins.Not a lot by the large public company standards, but for a small family-owned business we’ve been fairly ambitious. One of the principals of Blip had done SEO work for us. When he came to us with the concept of selling our digital space in eight second increments on a platform that mirrored buying advertising on-line, many of our folks were skeptical. I felt compelled to serve as an incubator for the model because I saw the potential of bringing thousands of businesses into our medium that never could have afforded to do out-of-home in an urban environment. It has far exceeded our expectations and has resulted in significant customer and revenue growth.
Are there synergies between operating a sign company and operating a billboard company?
YESCO is actually 4 separate companies. We operate an on-premise sign company, an outdoor media company, a franchising company for our service and maintenance business, and finally, a financing company that leases signs and equipment. We’ve enjoyed excellent synergy among the businesses through the years. Business owners who buy or lease custom corporate signage often become our advertisers as well.
How will the out of home business be different in 10 years.
Technology will continue to drive the changes in our industry. The need for efficiency will ensure that we will be forced to eliminate the barriers that make it difficult for our customers to buy, Speed to sale will be greatly accelerated. Data will continue to show the value of our product and out-of-home will become a core media purchase for advertisers.

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