The COVID pandemic has taken its toll on a multitude of industries with few spared the impacts of quarantine measures and stay-at-home orders. Not surprisingly, the Out-of-Home advertising (OOH) industry has been no exception.
The OOH industry was flying high pre-pandemic with advancements in technology and digital spurring significant growth. The good news is the industry is expected to return to growth mode in 2021.
A recently published report from marketing analyst firm eMarketer projects that OOH spend will return to growth in 2021 and continue growing through 2023, led primarily by digital.
There is anticipation that the recovery is already under way, with mobility data registering increases in traffic on a weekly basis since the April lows.
While increased traffic and mobility is good news for the industry, the COVID crisis has provided an opportunity for OOH to lean on more than just traffic numbers and impressions when promoting the value of the medium.
When the swift and sudden arrival of the pandemic forced brands around the world to pivot and upheave their messages on a dime across all marketing channels, it provided OOH the opportunity to showcase its dynamic creative capabilities like never before.
In the UK, for example, National Health Services utilized dynamic creative on transit shelters around major hospitals to display a live count of people posting with the hashtag #thankyouNHS on Twitter. Every time the hashtag was used, the live count increased in real time.
In the US, OUTFRONT Media used its digital network to spotlight and promote restaurants open for carry out and delivery in their respective nearby areas.
There are multiple examples of brands, health and government agencies and non-profits using OOH during the pandemic to broadcast messages of encouragement, hope and support.
OOH has always been known as the medium that builds awareness and reach in a memorable way. People tend to associate OOH with splashy creative on Times Square billboards, or bold messaging on highway units that garner millions of impressions.
But during the pandemic, brands have been exposed to the agility and pliability of dynamic creative in OOH, perhaps for the first time, and now recognize that OOH can optimize the moment in which consumers interact with an ad, leading to substantial increases in ROI.
In advertising, the importance of the “moment” is equally as important as the medium and the message. The “moment” is defined by the way in which consumer is feeling or behaving at the exact point at which they interact with the ad in front of them.
A recent study aptly named “The Moments of Truth” confirms that using ambient data to contextualize creative makes brands’ ad dollars work harder and ROI go further.
The multistage study used neuroscience techniques to measure actual brain activity of consumers the moment they engaged with a contextually relevant digital OOH (DOOH) message; conducted eye-tracking research to measure DOOH fixations, ad recall and creative ratings; and lastly, tested sales uplift to understand the direct sales correlation to dynamic creative.
The study found that, by combining moments of relevance and relevant content, brands can achieve stronger brain responses to their OOH campaigns by 32%.
In addition, the research showed that spontaneous ad awareness is 17% higher when using dynamic content. A $500,000 campaign can deliver nearly $75,000 of incremental value using impactful dynamic creative.
Even with positive spending forecasts and projects, no one is really sure when true normalcy will return for the OOH industry or the global economy, for that matter.
But when it does, it’s incumbent on the industry to heed these findings, remember the lessons of how OOH was deployed at the height of the crisis and ensure brands begin to see OOH as a channel capable of reaching the people that count, not just the most number of people.
It’s no longer about simply counting the people that can reached. This means continuing to showcase and utilize dynamic creative to better engage with target audiences at all times, not just when something bad happens or when the need to pivot the message is urgent.
Today, the ability for brands to leverage dynamic creative in OOH is easier than ever.
A host of new technology-enabled and data-driven platforms in the OOH space have the ability to manage thousands of individual pieces of dynamic content at scale with relative ease, enabling content changes in real time, based on changing conditions and variables across multiple vendors and markets, all of which will result in better engagement with consumers throughout all aspects of the campaign.
It is key for brands to be able to connect and resonate with their most important consumers in a meaningful way. Long after the COVID crisis is in the rear-view mirror, dynamic creative in OOH will allow them to do just that while also catapulting OOH into its next phase of growth.
By driving convergence and integration, Martin Porter continually seeks to bring holistic planning to the next level in the Out of Home realm. Martin manages the development of Out of Home within the Dentsu Aegis Network agencies. Martin has 20+ years of OOH and media experience. Out of Home, Radio, and Cinema specialist for 14 years working in London, UK and the last 8 years working across Communication Planning, OOH planning and digital/mobile in NYC for Carat and Posterscope.
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