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OOH in a Stay-at-Home World

Let’s talk about the great outdoors: The dancing light shows of movie theaters, the beautiful consumerist vistas of shopping malls, the tranquility of screaming sports fans crowding into arenas, the roar and hum of the great rush hour migrations on freeways.

The United States has been in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic for a few months now, causing all of us to quickly adjust to a new at-home reality. Needless to say, we’re all a little stir-crazy. Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is also going a bit stir-crazy.

The Pandemic Shift

OOH is built on the concept of connecting with people in public spaces - shopping centers, sports or music venues, office parks, sidewalks and highways - just the kinds of places COVID-19 has disrupted. What does this mean for billboards, signs and other outdoor ads? It means the experience of OOH has changed from one of large-scale exposure to a more hyper-specific reach.

The Road Less Traveled

Public spaces have not disappeared; they’ve just changed locations. Airports, restaurants, malls, hotels and other venues have seen a dramatic decrease in foot traffic compared to last year, but people are still leaving their homes. Now, however, they’re more likely to go to supermarkets, grocery stores, general stores or gas stations. The commute to work might be less populated, but we’ve learned that the road to big-box retailers and grocery stores is bumper-to-bumper. Inventory along these routes has become a lot more valuable.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Right now, there just aren’t a lot of reasons to leave our neighborhoods, and for the most part, we aren’t. Airports, restaurants, hotels, theaters, malls and more have all seen a decrease in foot traffic, but foot traffic and OOH exposure in neighborhoods have surged since stay-at-home orders began popping up. New popular hot spots for OOH are places like parks benches, street furniture, transit shelters, kiosks and other spaces targeted at the walking and biking consumer.

The Future is Out-of-Home

The entire media industry is suffering during this global health crisis, but OOH is taking a particularly hard hit. According to the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), OOH investment will be down 49% in the first half of this year. However, it’s important to remember that the ways OOH has adjusted in previous months are not permanent. People will return to their regular commutes and routines in droves as the crisis continues to taper off.

In the meantime, OOH ads can be an opportunity to connect with people in their own communities and neighborhoods. To learn more about just how to make this happen, contact The Ward Group today.

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