- As the world begins to open back up in 2021, customers will resume their usual activities again. Brands should plan for this now and work out-of-home (OOH) advertising into their 2021 marketing plans.
- Large metropolitan areas hit hard by the pandemic experienced an exodus, with people leaving the big cities in record numbers. Brand marketers should reconsider the value of second- or third-tier markets, and target their customers where they are now.
- OOH advertising will drive physical and digital conversations. Outdoor advertising has come a long way, offering audience-based targeting, place-based targeting and multi-channel retargeting.
- New technology is helping the brands who’ve brought media planning and media buying in house, and making the once-manual and time-consuming process much more efficient.
Making predictions in a sea of uncertainty—much less when a good chunk of the world is going under various stages of lockdown once again—seems like a fruitless effort. Especially if the topic is out-of-home (OOH) advertising, which in a pre-COVID world, was poised for its breakout year. If anything, this past year of unexpected (and unwanted) surprises has been a lesson in patience.
As the COVID-19 pandemic brought the entire world to a screeching halt, many OOH advertisers hit the brakes, too. Fortunately, as the world inches closer to a vaccine and a return to “normal times,” advertisers are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and seizing the opportunity to re-imagine OOH in a post-COVID world.
If you’re trying to make sense of OOH advertising in your 2021 marketing strategy, consider these four factors as you plan for the year ahead:
1) OOH advertising will see a sharp rebound
Take a quick second to sing the “I’m A Little Teapot” nursery rhyme in your head. This is basically the world in a nutshell. Humans aren’t meant to be pent in their homes for months on end.
When we are all able to finally rip off those masks and resume our once-normal activities, the proverbial teapot will need to be poured out. And as you may have guessed it, the more people go outside, the more opportunities brands will have to engage with them via OOH advertising.
This doesn’t mean people will suddenly unhinge themselves of their digital devices—because, let’s face it, we’re past the point of no return—but engaging with the physical world again will take on an entirely new meaning for some time. Brands should plan for this now.
2) Advertisers will see new value in second- or third-tier markets
The pandemic has hit the hardest in big metropolitan areas. Population density alone is to “thank” for this. So while lockdown measures are far from uniform across the U.S., there’s a good chance that they will be relaxed more quickly in less populated areas.
This will signal a new and relatively untapped opportunity for many brand marketers who, for vanity alone, have consistently targeted major cities, like, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, for billboard advertising and OOH campaigns.
Understanding that cities experienced an exodus throughout the pandemic should give advertisers a reason to think twice about where their target consumers live, shop, and spend their time. It’s not just the big cities (nor was it ever).
3) Optimizing for return on ad spend (ROAS) will be more important than ever
If you are still of the mindset that OOH can’t be measured, please leave that in your “preconceived notions” pile when 2021 rolls around.
With the growth of digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) and the rise of programmatic OOH advertising solutions, measuring the performance of OOH campaigns has never been easier or more accurate. And now the same applies to traditional out-of-home as well.
The powerful combination of audience-based targeting, place-based targeting, and multi-channel re-targeting is turning the entire out-of-home ecosystem into a powerful performance marketing channel that drives both (measurable) physical and digital conversions.
Sure, OOH advertising will always be a solid brand marketing channel, but it’s also so much more than that—and advertisers are finally catching on.
4) Brands and agencies will turn to technology to plan OOH campaigns
Last year, more and more brands began bringing their media planning and buying in-house. This has been accelerated even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Brands have had to cut costs to stay afloat during this recession and also learn how to operate with fully distributed teams.
Technology’s role in enabling people to be more productive than ever before has been central to this—and this is not likely a trend we’ll see disappear anytime soon. This isn’t to suggest that technology is “taking over” people’s jobs. Rather, it underscores the reality that new solutions are emerging each day making once-manual or time-consuming processes much more efficient.
OOH advertising will be far from an afterthought in 2021. COVID-19 has fundamentally reshaped both business and consumer behavior in a massive way – these shifts will manifest themselves in out-of-home advertising in the year ahead.
And as the world opens back up, outdoor advertising options like billboards, transit displays, and bus benches will help you stand out to customers in a fresh new way.
Matthew O’Connor is the Co-founder and CEO of AdQuick.com, a technology company building software for the out of home advertising industry. Brands and agencies of every size use the software to plan, purchase, and measure OOH campaigns.