Out of home might have been switched off during lockdown, but it remained relevant. The world’s oldest advertising medium showed its mettle with numerous Covid-19 campaigns, from #AloneTogether and #OurSecondChance to #StayHome. Now it’s back to business.
During Covid-19, out of home (OOH) was used globally to relay vital messages at a time of great need. It also highlighted messages in celebration of essential workers across the world. These were placed on all OOH formats and were shared to social media and other online platforms, showing the power of OOH – ironically, in a time when our audiences had diminished.
Our reduction in bookings were specific to markets directly affected by lockdown (i.e. events, property, vehicle sales and certain consumer goods). At the same time, we experienced an uptake in work on long-term strategic branding. Another effect of Covid-19 was that we have sped up entry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, fast-tracking critical areas such as programmatic buying.
A key measure of consumers emerging from lockdown is trust in media channels, and OOH recorded the largest increase in consumer trust, from 15% to 57% (as per a UK study). According to WARC and the IPA, brands using OOH have a 20%+ increase in large business effects, versus brands not utilising the medium.
Road to recovery
The recovery process has definitely started. Measured against pre-lockdown baselines, road commuters are back to more than 90%, and mall visits are higher than 70%. There are areas where audience measurements are higher than baseline, for example grocery and pharmacy environments, and small regional shopping centres. Residential movements are also 12% higher than baseline. There is a mall in the Eastern Cape where 22% more shoppers were recorded than pre-lockdown figures.
We are keeping a keen eye on areas where return of audiences is slower, for example airports, the Gautrain, and niche markets such as gyms. The media channels with a much longer recovery trajectory are cinema and activations.
It will be interesting to see how long-term pricing will be affected over the next few months to a year. There could be a reduction of OOH stock in cluttered areas, as well as ongoing price reductions. As with real estate, we are experiencing a buyer’s market at the moment. Now is the time to invest in strategic long-term holdings, as prime sites that have not been available for long periods of time are back in the market.
Following the initial loss of audiences, OOH has proven to retain its reputation as the “golden thread” that ensures effectiveness and reach of campaigns. Along with that, it remains in a prime position for showing brand stature and presence.
In South Africa, true omnichannel buying is still not happening, as we are not on a level playing field. The Outdoor Measurement Council has made great strides in this regard, and has just released its fourth run of ROAD data (see update on page 17). The planning and buying process of OOH is comparable to the process of buying real estate, which means that individual knowledge and understanding of this complex landscape will remain a necessity for any effective campaigns.
The message is the star
I would like to echo the sentiments of Ari Buchalter, CEO of Intersection, and emphasise these points:
- OOH is the only major advertising channel that is not content based. Thus, it is not competing with, or being diluted by or negatively associated with other programming and content. With OOH, the message is the star. No other channel can offer this complete safety and control.
- You won’t remember the banner ad on a website or at the bottom of an app, but you will recall the billboards you drive by regularly. Studies have continuously shown that OOH generates higher recall than other channels and is more trusted than any digital channel.
- OOH lives in the physical world, where it cannot be turned on or off, clicked past, delayed, or blocked.
- OOH has unseated TV and radio as the new king of pure reach and frequency. We are seeing a continued and steady decline in TV viewers, along with fragmentation of TV and radio. They are negatively affected by the rise of subscription-based on-demand over-the-top, along with growth in online video and music.
- OOH can effectively deliver 100% reach against virtually any audience, engaging consumers throughout their real-world journeys between home, work, shopping, and entertainment. Moreover, the entirety of that massive scale is viewable and bot-free.
Programmatic digital out of home (pDOOH) increases buying flexibility, and for the first time, we are truly represented in the digital buying field with pDOOH now possible in private marketplace (PMP). It is not yet available on real time bidding (RTB), hence knowledge of the different PMP marketplaces is important.
The research of Les Binet and Peter Field shows the historic link between media effectiveness and reach, with OOH being on par with TV on average daily reach, outperforming radio and online. The billboard, traditional or digital, is most certainly back.
Margie Carr is the founder and managing director of In Touch Media , the oldest specialist OOH advertising agency of its kind operating in South Africa and the rest of Africa. In Touch Media provides tailored out of home solutions to its clients, supported by strategic, research-based insights from the inception to the completion of a campaign.
- TalonOutdoor “Brands rediscover consumer trust with out of home” Sept 2020
- WARC.com “Les Binet on why long-term marketing matters in the age of short-termism” Jan 2020
- Campaignlive.co.uk: Omar Oakes “Streaming overtakes linear TV viewing for first time, Samsung report reveals” Sept 2020
- Oaaa.org: Ari Buchalter “How the decline of tracking will spur the rise of OOH” Sept 2020
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