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Unlike other traditional advertising platforms like magazines and newspapers, out-of-home advertising such as billboards and subway posters grew almost 7% last year, mostly due to the rapid conversion of static ad spaces to digital. Per eMarketer, roughly 50% of all out-of-home ads will be digital this year, up 10% from 2014.

Expand chart

Data: Standard Media Index; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Why it matters: What used to plague out-of-home advertising growth was its inability to measure accurately how many people, and which types of people, saw the ads. But with the rise of digital screens and smartphone ownership, that's all about to change. Andy Sriubas, EVP of OUTFRONT Media, one of the largest U.S. out-of-home ad companies, tells Axios that his company has created a new technology that will serve people the same billboards ads that they pass on the street on their smartphones in real time, doubling the impact. Digital billboard ads can also be sold programmatically, increasing the number of advertisers who can buy them which creates more demand.

What's next: OUTFRONT is already experimenting with rotating, TV-like content on outdoor screens across different U.S. cities that will transform the ad business into a content business. The screens will feature rotating ads between clips of sports, weather and news updates.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
34 mins ago - Economy & Business

Stock buybacks are kicking back into high gear

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was expected that with the economy improving and company balance sheets already loaded with cash, U.S. firms would slow down their debt issuance in 2021 after setting records in 2020. But just the opposite has happened.

Why it matters: Companies generally issue bonds for one of two reasons — because they're worried about not having enough cash to cover their expenses or because they want to lever up and make risky bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Japan vows deeper emissions cuts ahead of White House summit

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan on Thursday said it will seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 46% below 2013 levels by 2030, per the AP and other outlets.

Why it matters: The country is the world's fifth-largest largest carbon dioxide emitter and a major consumer of coal, oil and natural gas.

2 hours ago - Technology

The global race to regulate AI

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Regulators in Europe and Washington are racing to figure out how to govern business' use of artificial intelligence while companies push to deploy the technology.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, the EU revealed a detailed proposal on how AI should be regulated, banning some uses outright and defining which uses of AI are deemed "high-risk."