Is It Time to Invest in OOH?

Joe Warren, Executive Vice President, Media Investment

February 23, 2021


Earlier this year as Covid-19 quarantines began there was a dramatic and unprecedented shift in the US population’s commuting behavior. While advertising in all verticals has seen dramatic budget shifts, the fall in out of home advertising spend has been unprecedented. OOH advertising has shrunk with the danger of coronavirus spreading at the office, large gatherings, sporting events, music concerts, restaurants, gyms and shopping malls. The decline in available audiences at OOH venues has of course meant less demand for the media. 

This is hitting point of care advertising as well. We are seeing postponement of non-essential doctor visits and shifts in behavior within doctors’ practices. Patients are largely checking in digitally and waiting for their appointments in their cars or outside of the building. Once inside the practice, patients are usually only a few moments in the waiting room before being ushered into examination rooms.   

The Swing Back 

In many parts of America, workers will be heading back to the workplace soon in significant numbers. They will just be commuting in a different way, with many who previously used public transportation now planning to travel by car. 

USA Today reported in April that demand for public transit services were down 75% nationwide with estimates as high as 85% fall off in San Francisco and Washington Metro trips down by 95%.  

However, the swing back is coming. According to a KPMG survey, 40% of transit users intend to shift to alternative sources of transport, primarily personal vehicles and ride sharing. This has been supported by research from JD Power showing that In June, used-vehicle sales rose 17% above the pre-pandemic forecasts.  

So as America heads back to work, some of those telehealth appointments turn back into in-person appointments, and as undoubtedly people will begin socializing again – although in smaller numbers and looking much different than before – we have the opportunity to think strategically how we might adjust our OOH investment as part of our broader media mix. 

What’s Next for OOH 

Just as the American public has adapted and changed behaviors, so has the OOH industry. The OOH industry has made significant investments in digital technologies, which allows for an audience first approach. 

The industry has changed from a static location-based model to a model that has embraced new digital forms of connectivity, engagement, and measurement. Data is now at the center of the negotiation and is critical to understanding where and how to find your target audiences. The audiences that you have identified through first and third party data in the online environment can now be used to programmatically buy OOH placements. 

By placing our audience and their new behaviors at the forefront of our approach to planning, we can holistically buy an audience at home through their engagement across video, display, search, and social. When OOH, through geo-location data we can target them at transit corridors and hubs. We are able to be there for our audiences at every point and every place through their day. 

Technology means that OOH messaging can be changed with short notice, campaigns be adjusted and shifted based on the data feedback loop, such that OOH is now an optimizable medium. 

What Advertisers Can do Now 

At CMI/Compas we are linking our programmatic campaigns to OOH placements that focus on locations of importance such as doctors’ offices, medical centers, and hospitals. Working with OOH companies we are identifying the most heavily travelled roads within the vicinity offering campaigns that advertise across the local digital screens. Data sets can be used to increase the contextual relevance of messaging, for example, a drop in local temperatures can be used as a trigger to commence advertising of flu treatments and vaccines, and the OOH placements targeted around local pharmacies and doctors’ offices. In a similar fashion pollen counts can be used as a trigger to start local campaigns for allergy medicines. As we think more broadly about data sets and their potential to signal target behavior, we can improve campaign ROI. 

Please also read our perspective on point of care advertising opportunities within the doctor’s office as these strategies integrate well. (http://cmi.docker:3002/insight/impact-of-covid-19-on-in-office-marketing/)  

It’s hard if not impossible to know how the US will re-open, but we can continue to keep lines of communication open with our key consumer and HCP audiences. 

We see plenty of opportunity to plan ahead and to consider OOH as part of a media mix to provide a more balanced and multi-channel approach to your campaigns in the future.