Author, Moving Walls
“Going Dark” was the first reaction of many advertisers when the current pandemic resulted in nationwide shutdowns of economies. Unfortunately, for Out-of-Home (OOH) media, this term was used literally as ongoing campaigns got paused or cancelled.
There have been enough discussions and studies published on why going dark is probably the last thing a brand wants to do now. Meanwhile, some brands have even been increasing their spends.
Unfortunately, it has been OOH’s biggest ally that led to this situation. The fact that OOH continued to beat to the drums of gridlocked traffic meant that the music stopped as soon as lockdowns were enforced.
However, we’ve been measuring OOH audiences for more than five years now. This multi-sensor measurement solution was also recently awarded a US Patent. This data tells a different story.
Here’s why advertisers should keep investing in OOH even as conditional restrictions remain. Not just that, they’d be getting a better return on their media investments as well.
OOH Sites Have Continued to Deliver Views. Even as lockdowns have been enforced, essential travel has still been permitted. No outdoor media site reached a point where they could reach no one on any given day. In fact, an audience study we carried out with Adcity (Havas Group) in Singapore, showed that people were moving around more frequently across locations close to their homes.
More Share of Voice for Less. At any other time increasing share of voice on Digital OOH would mean spending on additional ad plays. Because of the current situation, your brand is actually competing with fewer advertisers for customer attention. So while you would have spent $1 for an advertising slot that placed before or after five other advertisers, you’re now (probably) spending less per ad play and having only one or two other advertisers before or after your own creative.
As restrictions start to lift, OOH views continue to lift. Malaysia, for example, has entered a conditional movement restrictions period and we’re already seeing the OOH potential views rising every day during this period. In greater Kuala Lumpur, for example, traffic is already up by more than 54% vs during the stricter Movement Control Order. See the full report here.
Staying Visible. There are many cases of brands who have capitalised on recessions by increasing their media spends when others reduced it, and therefore, increasing their own visibility and share of voice. Whether you’re a market leader or disruptor, letting up now means undoing tons of previous visibility campaigns and having to spend even more once the economy restarts just to get recoup the same level of awareness.
Consumers are in a New State of Mind. But why choose to spend on OOH to stay visible? Apart from the fact that you automatically get a higher share-of-voice for the same investment, it is important to remember that these are audiences that have not been out-of-home as much as they used to be. The fact is, absence does make the heart fonder. Subconsciously, being outdoors now gives us a renewed sense of freedom. The fact that we have not been exposed to the same environment for some time also means we will notice these OOH sites more than usual.
Capitalise on the Refresh Factor. Extending on the new state of mind factor, another thing to remember is that consumers who are now starting to go out have been spending a lot more of their time on devices – smartphones, computers, and televisions. They may have gotten used to seeing the same brand messages and the same creatives. Being outdoors immediately presents the opportunity for brands to make a new impact with larger than life creatives.
Every major disruption is an opportunity. In this case, the fact that consumers have been locked-in or are moving less often than they are used to is actually an opportunity to make their “outdoor” moments count even more.
Spreading positive messages, thanking essential workers, and continuing to communicate as many go quiet are all bound to be remembered by audiences. Brands who focus on the longer-term opportunities will continue to reap the benefits of investing in OOH media as we go into the new normal.