There’s no doubt that the coronavirus ripped the heart out of the out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry, both in the UK and across the length and breadth of the globe.
More specifically, the global OOH media segment endured its worst ever revenue decline through 2020, depreciating by 13.3% to $51.6 billion when compared to 2019’s figures.
In the UK, total OOH revenues depreciated by almost half, falling to £699 million in comparison with the previous 12 months.
However, the market has since rebounded strongly, while creating new opportunities and trends for advertisers to leverage. We’ll explore these below, while asking how you can make outdoor advertising work for you.
Exploring Post-Covid Advertising Trends
The most obvious trend post-Covid is the return of exponential revenue growth and expansion, with the global OOH ad spend having grown by 6% through 2021 to reach $55 billion (which is just $5 million shy of the 2019 total).
The bounce back was arguably even more pronounced in the mature UK market, with the figures from Q2 2021 confirming that OOH revenues soared 277% year-on-year.
Interestingly, this trend was driven by both traditional and digital OOH formats, although the former grew at a slightly higher rate as marketers sought out more competitively priced advertising space.
Overall, traditional and digital OOH channels grew by 339% and 247% respectively between April and June 2021. However, the digital share of OOH revenues increased slightly to 63%, with this 10 percentage points higher when compared to the pre-pandemic market in 2019.
But what are the other key post-Covid trends in OOH? Here are three of the most seminal:
The Rise of Hybrid Working
During the pandemic, all the talk was of remote working and the exponential rise of people completing their daily tasks from home.
Of course, many suggested that this would be the primary working methodology of the future, but recent evidence has highlighted hybrid arrangement as the single most popular among employees.
In fact, a study undertaken by the digital workplace provider Claromentis found that 64% of employees favour a hybrid working model, through which they retain the flexibility to drop in to the office and collaborate in person with their teammates as and when required.
So, employees may work with complete freedom or attend the office on two or three designated days of the week, while spending the remainder of their time operating from home.
This is far more beneficial from the perspective of OOH, as it means that marketers can still benefit from consistent traffic in bustling and city centre locations during working hours.
This is particularly true in the case of local advertisers, who may want to target workers when they’re on their way home from work and actively thinking about things such as entertainment or their evening meal.
With hybrid working becoming increasingly prevalent and a plethora of new job roles featuring this type of structure being advertised, OOH media will continue to offer value to advertisers as the market rebounds further in 2022.
The Return to Normal and Outdoor Activity
Prior to the pandemic, it was normal for the average person to spend a considerable portion of their day out of the home.
Based on an American Time Use Survey from 2021, the average person spends around 38% of their waking time at home. However, this number increases markedly for people of working or college-going age, at least partially explaining the growth of OOH advertising prior to 2020.
Of course, this average declined significantly as Covid-19 raged, with frequent and seemingly interminable lockdowns keeping people caged in their homes and craving a return to normal.
This trend was prevalent across the UK and Europe, particularly with countries such as Italy, Germany and Belgium facing particularly stringent lockdowns.
As the return to the work and the emergence of the hybrid model proves, we’re fast returning to the much-loved ‘old normal’ especially in the UK where the government has removed all Covid-19 measures and any legal requirement to work from home or socially distance.
Once again, this is excellent news for OOH advertisers, who can now target workers, shoppers and younger demographics with the same efficacy and frequency as they did prior to 2020.
In-person Shopping is Making a Comeback
Over the course of the last decade, ecommerce and online shopping have become increasingly dominant in the UK (and indeed across the globe).
During this period, ecommerce continued to enjoy exponential growth and claim an increased share of the total retail marketplace, particularly as high streets suffered a slew of brick-and-mortar closures.
This trend was accelerated through 2020, as more physical retailers were forced to close their doors while the raging demand of online shopping added a staggering £5.3 billion to UK ecommerce.
During this 12-month period, UK ecommerce forecasts were upgraded from £73.6 billion to £78.9 billion as a direct result of Covid-19, while online giants Amazon added £2 billion to their annual turnover.
However, not only has the growth rate of ecommerce stalled as retail stores have once again through 2021 and Q1 in 2022, but it appears as though in-person shopping is becoming increasingly popular and commonplace.
According to the National Retail Federation in the US, for example, brick-and-mortar outlets announced twice as many store openings as closures in 2021, reaffirming the increased demand for in-person shopping and corporeal retail experiences post-Covid. Even digital-first stores are now moving into brick-and-mortar retail, reversing the type of trends we’ve been seeing for years now.
While doesn’t mean that ecommerce is experiencing a decline, it highlights the enduring popularity of in-person shopping and the opportunity for marketers to target customers strategically through OOH media.
How Do You Get Started With OOH Advertising?
If there trends have convinced you of the merit of OOH advertising, the next step is to dip your toe into this effective and competitively priced market.
Below, we’ve outlined some tips on how to get started with OOH advertising, regardless of your product, service or the market in which you operate.
The Importance of Planning Your Campaign
Planning and preparation is key to the success of your OOH campaign, from understanding the motivation behind your campaign and your product’s unique selling points to the strategic locations in which you want to target customers.
The first point is particularly crucial, as this will have a direct impact on every aspect of your campaign.
For example, you may want to build awareness and recognition around your brand, with OOH media one of the best and most cost-effective ways of achieving such objectives when compared with alternative offline media.
This will impact on the primary messaging that you use on your billboard, while also encouraging you to cover a broad catchment area with multiple ads and displays.
Another key consideration is the way in which your business operates. For example, OOH media is capable of driving assisted conversions as part of an integrated campaign, which takes in multiple channels that chart the typical customer journey with your brand.
So, ecommerce brands may use OOH ads to build awareness or drive interaction through online or social channels, whereas brick-and-mortar retailers will typically advertise real-time promotions and look to drive traffic in store.
Data and knowledge is key here, while you can also utilise past OOH campaigns and metrics to plan your campaigns in even greater detail (we’ll touch more on this later in the piece).
The Importance of Design and Typography
By designing your OOH ads and billboards in-house, you can save money over the course of a typical two-week booking while also retaining complete creative control.
However, the design and typography featured in your ads are also central to their success or failure, and there are a couple of points to keep in mind in this respect.
When it comes to design, one of the key rules to adhere to is the so-called “rule of thirds”. Applicable to all artistic outlets, this recommends taking a typical canvas or billboard and dividing it into three equally sized horizontal sections (and three symmetrical vertical sections).
This creates a visual roadmap for the creative design of your ad, in which you can incorporate branding (such as a logo), high quality image and your primary (and potentially secondary) messaging in this instance.
In terms of billboard typography, research conducted by Rise Vision suggests that it’s the Sans-Serifs fonts which tend to work best from the perspective of OOH (and especially large format, roadside billboards).
After all, this is easier to read and comprehend from a distance, with specific fonts like Verdana, Open Sans, Helvetica and Arial particularly easy on the eye.
For professional service providers and financial firms, fonts such as Baskerville may also be effective. This particular typeface is considered to be the most trustworthy and agreeable among customers, making it ideal for persuading individuals to liaise with such service providers.
The key is to spend time conceiving and crafting your ad design, keeping the above recommendations in mind and ensuring that your brand identity is presented as clearly and consistently as possible.
Keep Your Messaging Clear and Concise
Last, but not least, we come to the importance of messaging, which plays a pivotal role in your ability to convey a product’s key selling point or features in a relatively short period of time.
The most important thing to remember here is the importance of concise messaging, with punchy headlines of around six or seven words ideal if you want to create an impactful OOH ad.
In fact, evidence has suggested that outdoor ads and billboards that feature less then 250 characters can boost engagement among customers by as much as 60%.
You can also improve the impact of your messaging simply by writing in an active tense, which helps to create a sense of purpose and urgency in the minds of customers.
This is particularly effective when promoting in-store discounts or limited-time offers, as the goal here is to drive traffic into your store or to branded website.
How to Thrive in a Post-Covid World
At this stage, all that’s left is to offer some strategic advice based on the prevailing post-Covid OOH trends. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
- #1. Consider OOH Triggers to Target Hybrid Workers: As hybrid working thrives, marketers may need to be more sophisticated in their OOH advertising approach. For example, leveraging DOOH to air ads at specific times of day (such as during the evening commute) can target customers as they head home and begin to consider potential purchasing decisions. Weather-triggered OOH campaigns also adapt messaging to suit real-time conditions, capturing changing audiences more effectively over the duration of a campaign.
- #2. Consider the Importance of Location: As the old normal returns and footfall returns to workplaces, restaurants and shopping centres, brands can target a wider range of locations that may have strategic importance to their business. Whether these are in close proximity to a retail store or simply enable brands to target a relevant audience, this should prompt a strategic rethink about when and where to advertise in 2022 as people return to the great outdoors!
- #3. Use Metrics To Your Advantage: If you’ve previously ran campaigns that targeted shops and malls pre-2020, it may also be worth leveraging relevant metrics and data sets to ensure that you optimise the impact of your ads. We’d also recommend capturing data during the early stages of your campaign, as you look to track customer movements and tailor the location of ads and speak to consumers at a time when they want to actively engage with businesses.
The Last Word
As we can see, the OOH landscape is blooming post-Covid-19, while a number of key trends continue to drive growth and shape consumer behaviour.
The key is to understand these trends to ensure that you leverage outdoor media as effectively as possible, especially in terms of targeting locations, designing your ads and understanding the precise role that OOH will play in an overarching marketing campaign.