LONDON: A strong fourth quarter and increased digital inventory helped push the UK's out-of-home advertising sector over the £1bn mark for the first time in 2014, latest figures show.

The Outdoor Media Centre (OMC), the trade association for outdoor media owners, said that revenues were up 6.1% in the last quarter of the year, to reach £300m, while over the year as a whole, growth came in at 3%.

The increasing number of digital sites now available was an important factor in this performance according to the OMC, as it reported that digital out-of-home accounted for more than 28% of total revenues in 2014.

"The market is benefiting from the investment in digital, but also the rampant inflation levels in TV," said Mark Craze, the recently appointed OMC chairman.

The organisation listed the top 10 outdoor advertisers in the last quarter of 2014 as Asda Stores, BSkyB, KFC, O2 UK, Sony Mobile, TalkTalk, TSB Bank, 20th Century Fox, Vodafone and Warner Bros.

Google also made extensive use of outdoor during the quarter, MediaTel reported, as it promoted campaigns for search, YouTube and Android.

The top spending categories during the quarter were banking and technology, while retail also showed significant growth. Of the latter, Craze observed that this was "clearly a result of press advertising losing share which is moving onto digital screens".

While outdoor is doing well, the outlook for the trade body itself is less certain. Last month JCDecaux, the UK's biggest outdoor media owner, pulled out of the organisation, reportedly because it felt it wasn't getting a satisfactory return on its major investment.

Naren Patel, then chairman of the OMC, was confident the organisation had a future. "[JCDecaux] might be a big player but they are only one voice; they only had one vote on matters," he said.

"You have to look at organisations like Thinkbox [TV] and Newsworks [newspapers]," he added. "These are trade bodies that are doing great work and the rest of us believe that having a great trade body helps grow the medium."

Data sourced from MediaTel, Campaign; additional content by Warc staff