How OOH Advertising is Changing Amid a Pandemic

A lot of things have changed and slowed down since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented crisis put many industries in a tailspin and forced them to adapt to the “new normal” to continue their core business processes. This includes industries such as food, corporate, and even outdoor advertising.

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising depends on foot and vehicular traffic to be successful. With quarantine protocols and lockdown measures in place, keeping people off public areas, traffic drops significantly, and this reduced reach negatively impacts the outdoor advertising industry.

However, recent research from the Out of Home Advertising Association and The Harris Poll found that nearly half of Americans now have heightened awareness of OOH advertising more than before the pandemic. They see safety and hygiene reminders and sales and promotions advertisements to be useful during this time.

The pandemic has brought new challenges to the OOH media and advertising world. Below, let’s look at some of the changes happening in the industry and what it means for businesses.


1. Digital OOH

Digital OOH is predicted to lead the growth of outdoor advertising and speed up the industry’s digital transformation. Even before the pandemic, OOH ads were already shifting, with digital displays being increasingly prevalent in controlled spaces like airports, railways, and malls. 

The COVID-19 health crisis may have slowed down this digital shift, but it has also introduced opportunities for new strategies and technologies. Utility-digital displays can help deliver safety reminders to the public. Post-pandemic, OOH can influence consumers like never before, as they will have a greater appreciation for things they see outside of their homes.

Media services and providers are utilizing digital ad strategies to supplement outdoor touchpoints. For instance, beauty and skincare brand Glossier launched a digital and OOH campaign to introduce its body-care products, with 70% digital ads and 30% wild postings across 80 locations in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. 

CMO Ali Weiss says, “Out-of-home still remains a really powerful channel, but it definitely depends on the media campaign.” With the right approach and ad strategies, OOH ads can still influence consumer decisions.


2. Data-driven advertising

Advertising is now a data-driven industry. Marketers can define and adjust their spending based on insights from their previous campaign performance to make data-based adjustments for maximum ad spend. For instance, their findings can be used for regional targeting.

Additionally, analyzing mobile data that identify a user’s brand affinity, interests, gender, browsing behavior, commute patterns, preferences, or time online and offline can supply sufficient information to marketers. These types of data can help determine the locations (including less virus-infected areas) for OOH placements to cater and reach their target audience effectively, as well as to retarget consumers.


3. Audience-centric strategies

Since outdoor advertising has always been sold based on square footage, media formats, locations for the volume of impressions, and reduced foot traffic brought upon by the pandemic-induced restrictions caused a significant dip to its reach. This challenge and realization will push the industry to look into an audience-first approach with new tools and technologies.

On the other hand, businesses are forced to reangle their ad tactics even if they reach only 15–20% of their usual out-of-home audience size. People still go out to shop for groceries and other necessities. Statistics show that even during lockdowns, six in ten people still see OOH advertising when they buy groceries. 

This helps influence their buying decisions and establish brand affinity, especially when supported with other channels.


4. Mobile advertising

Outdoor ads have the power to build brand awareness and cement brand affinity. Combining outdoor advertising strategies with mobile ads can make your campaigns more effective. OOH ads have become a part of people’s daily lives—they see it when going to work or stores, while mobile phones are the last thing people put down at night and the first thing they pick up in the morning.

Targeting consumers who were exposed or near your OOH ad placements through mobile ads allows you to emphasize your message and help them engage with your brand, whether through your online channels or store visits. 

A 2020 Nielsen Report found that 62% of viewers prompted mobile device actions after seeing a digital street level ad, such as scanning a QR code, searched for/visited the brand’s website, used SMS/URL/hashtag, and more. Imagine how much more effective your OOH campaigns would be if supplemented with mobile ads.


Doing Nothing is Not an Option

During a crisis, what matters is that your message or campaign reaches the people who count. Marketers and businesses alike can’t afford to sit back and wait for a crisis out, with COVID-19 being an example, for no one knows when it will end. Doing nothing can cost you more in the end. 

The advertising world is a data-driven industry, which means it adjusts and adapts to the changes and is ever-resilient. As consumer behavior changes, advertisers will see new advertising strategies emerge, and businesses and marketers will be more careful about spending their ad budget. 

Combining media channels and audience and data analysis will be critical considerations in the discussions around OOH and DOOH.

Are you in the hunt for reliable outdoor advertising specialists for your next ad campaign? Quick Brown Fox can help you reach the right people at the right place and time.


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