Billboards and other types of out-of-home (OOH) advertising have been a mainstay of the media and marketing industries for decades. Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the world to press pause on everything from extended family gatherings to concerts and sporting events to international—and even domestic—travel. The public health crisis also had a significant impact on the OOH advertising market.
In this article, we’ll discuss the evolution of out-of-home advertising since March 2020, as well as what publishers in the media industry should be doing to prepare for the return of OOH.
A sudden halt to out-of-home advertising
With consumers spending most of their time at home during 2020 (Zoom meetings in pyjamas and slippers, anyone?) it simply didn’t make financial sense for advertisers to shell out big bucks for billboard spots. The result? In Q2 of 2020 alone, OOH advertising revenue dropped by 45% from 2019.
“In the early months of the pandemic, demand for public transit, for example, dropped an average of 75% nationwide,” reported SmartBrief in fall 2020. “To cope with the drop, OOH companies renegotiated rental deals with transport hubs, reduced salaries and hours, and in some cases, laid off or furloughed employees.”
The past year and a half has been a tumultuous time for the media industry, and many others. However, now that the worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, OOH is poised for a rebound. Brands are reinvesting in OOH advertising to connect with consumers as they begin to socialize and travel once again. And, programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising appears to have a particularly bright future.
New developments in digital out-of-home advertising
If you walk through Times Square today, you’ll see the resurgence of OOH advertising firsthand. DOOH billboards in New York City’s advertising hot spot have increased in price by 184% since the beginning of the pandemic. This is an even more impressive comeback than static billboards have seen, up 101% since March 2020.
“As the world reemerges, lockdowns are lifted, and businesses reopen, so will the opportunity to reach people OOH,” Hyun Lee Miller, VP of Media at Good Apple, told Digiday. “What will also refuel OOH growth are the newer digital planning and activation tools like Vistar that make it easier to build data-driven DOOH plans.”
Vistar Media is a programmatic DOOH ecosystem, offering both demand-side and supply-side platforms for publishers and advertisers to conduct business. While the company has been around since 2012, it has made headlines recently upon turning its focus to a popular market: rideshares.
In early June 2021, Vistar Media announced its newly developed ability to measure OOH inventory in rideshares like Curb, Firefly, and Lyft, as well as traditional taxis. This will give advertisers greater visibility into the performance of their DOOH campaigns.
“The beauty of programmatic has always been the ability to reach consumers when and where they are out in the world,” Michael Provenzano, CEO and Co-Founder at Vistar Media, told OOH Today. “This new capability not only allows brands to take advantage of the variety of venue types available, but also fully understand the effectiveness of their campaigns.”
With increased interest around OOH advertising in rideshares and taxis, the AdTech company Alfi has been making waves in the stock market. In mid-June, shares in the company rose from $3.41 to $8.41 within just two days.
In addition to its presence in Miami, Alfi plans to expand its reach by placing 10,000 tablets in rideshares across major American cities. Since Alfi’s tablets do not store personal data, advertisers who use the technology won’t have to worry about data privacy concerns.
“Using proprietary AI technology, Alfi shows custom ads to riders that are tailored to what they might like and be most interested in. The technology also provides remote, transparent, and effective metrics for the company and to its advertising customers that were previously considered impossible,” according to this article by Benzinga.
What the future holds for out-of-home advertising
It’s clear that programmatic DOOH holds potential opportunities for publishers in 2021 and beyond. However, the media industry should look beyond transit and rideshares when it comes to reaching audiences.
Many Americans will likely continue to work from home for the remainder of this year, so publishers should be prepared to offer advertisers options that enable them to connect with consumers closer to home—for example, through signage at their local park.
OOH will also be an attractive option for startups in 2021, which is worth noting considering that the number of new businesses in the U.S. grew by 74% in 2020 compared to 2019. This market is ripe for publishers’ offerings.
“For starters, [OOH is] cost-effective. OOH is stitched into the fabric of communities. It has a legitimizing effect that can help brands expand their reach, build relevance, establish brand safety, and impact potential consumers,” according to this article by mg Magazine.
So, if you haven’t taken the time yet this year, sit down with your team for an outdoor brainstorming session and put OOH advertising to work for your media organization’s bottom line.
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