OOH Is Back, But Not As You Know It
OOH Is Back, But Not As You Know It

A case for combining OOH with digital marketing for bigger & better brand recall

The Covid crisis will be studied by economists, sociologists and, of course, epidemiologists for years. Our own industry will not be different. The longer this crisis lasts, the more we feel that its impact will be deep and lasting.

Many have suggested that, in terms of technology use and development, Covid has had the effect of further accelerating the development of brand-to-consumer and business-to-business interactions and relationships. The innovations and trends that were happening now are happening fast or reaching an important point.

What is true for the retail and travel sector, to name two, is also true for the media. But Covid’s influence is more complex than quick innovation alone.

Recent market data showed what we all anticipated: The advertising industry took a seismic shock in the quarter Two. A historic cliff edge in brand spend, the likes of which we have never seen and hopefully will never see again. According to data from AA / Warc figures, out of home saw a 70% fall in investment in Q2 (Nielsen put it at 85%) and was second only to Cinema (100%).

Our data from Kinetic Journey showed that at the height of the lockdown in April, the overall impact on viewers was 10% of pre-lockdown levels, although some viewers remained particularly resilient to storms, for example, supermarkets and point of sale.

Ironically, the OOH played a key role in the crisis surrounding the NHS, leading activists and community messages and uniting the country. It provided a platform for intelligent and experiential communication to reach audiences at a time when fear and uncertainty were very real in our daily lives.

However, it is impossible to dismiss what happened in the last two months as a short-term problem. AA / Warc figures predict that OOH will be one of the fastest growing media sectors as we come out of full lockdown, but OOH advertising has been profoundly altered by experience in different ways.

Medium has been forced to jump five years into the future, with the quiet period being used as a summer of innovation, bringing the benefits of large-scale investment in digitization over the past decade.

In some ways it emphasizes the established strengths of the medium, but it is also improving OOH quite differently.

Constant uncertainty about audience behavior, work patterns, transportation usage, local and regional blocking means that brands need flexibility and certainty of campaigns based on audience data that can be flexible and responsive.

The Covid legacy panel system is facilitating a rapid transition from trade to audience-based automated trading and deconstructing rigid campaign contracts.. For example, the current move from 90-day to less than 30-day cancellation terms is highly likely to be a long term feature.

Covid is also redefining OOH as a responsive, zip code addressable medium capable of running campaigns on a large scale. Heavy investment in digitization and automation prior to the crisis means OOH is well-positioned to deliver geographically optimized, relevant and reactive campaigns that can respond to Covid behaviour hotspots and events.

Brands think of OOH not only as a national brand builder, but as a local performance driver.

Not everyone is fond of working from home. But for many, Covid has meant no more rush hour. As the lockdown eases, UK is following the rest of Europe to near normal impact levels, but people are no longer where they were or necessarily following the same routines.

More road usage, less public transport, hybrid working patterns, less city centre, and more focus on targeting the suburbs and smaller cities may amount to a total reinforcement of the OOH campaign plan. This would mean the region would double the digital display technology and use real-time travel data, allowing urban OOH to respond to short-term and long-term changes in travel behaviour and lifestyles.

The downtime created by Covid has given agencies and media owners room to think. The result has been a solid acceleration in system development and integration of OOH with other media.

More subtle changes occur, but possibly as significant. OOH, campaigns during the crisis highlighted how OOH enables brands to perform a public service role – something that will be needed for months to come and may become ingrained in brand thinking.

Digital Marketing

CampaignsDigital OOHOut-of-home advertising

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