Study: OOH takes on 'new potency' as consumers head outside, burn out on devices
Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is becoming more effective in early 2021 as consumers increase time spent commuting, use more contactless technologies and seek outdoor dining and activities, while simultaneously tuning out digital device ads due to burnout, according to findings from the "Consumer Insights & Intent: Q1 2021 report by the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and The Harris Poll. As the one-year anniversary of COVID-related lockdowns approaches, the research indicates that OOH advertising could return to greater prominence in the marketing mix after seeing its role diminished at the outset of the health crisis.
More than half (55%) of consumers in big cities — defined as those with populations greater than 1 million — are noticing more OOH messaging and signage compared to 41% of the general population. OOH is also influencing purchasing decisions for 34% of consumers in big cities. Consumers are noticing OOH while driving, both on highways (83%) or locally (82%), with 72% of workers expect to commute at least part time in the next few months.
The increase in attention paid to OOH advertising comes after the channel suffered setbacks during the early stages of the pandemic, losses that could be reversed by the consumer behavior trends surfaced in the OAAA report. For example, 75% of consumers are tuning out digital device ads due to excessive time spent in front of screens, meaning they could be more receptive to messages served elsewhere. The survey polled a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults and was conducted from Jan. 15-20.
"People are eager to make up for lost time," John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll said in a press statement. "They're looking to get back out into the world with a vengeance. Brands should meet consumers where they are, which will be anywhere but at home on Zoom."
The report also suggests that OOH could be effective with consumers who have increased their usage of tap-to-pay, QR codes and augmented reality, especially among millennials and Gen Zers. Specifically, more than 40% of respondents are interested in learning about special sales or deals available through tap-to-pay apps and QR codes. Similarly, 78% of millennials are seeking safe outdoor activities, while 82% of Gen Zers are looking for outdoor dining options, providing more areas where OOH ads could be effective.
Several recent campaigns have marked this shift toward OOH and away from at-home activations on platforms like Zoom. As part of its "Invest Your Heartbeats in the Life Artois" multichannel campaign, Stella Artois offered "low-risk, high-return investment advice" in artistic OOH ads that show a "juxtaposition of typical business counsel reimagined as tips for savoring life together."
"We have a powerful opportunity in the coming months to capture the heart and imagination of people who are looking at their surroundings and out of home marketing with more awareness and appreciation," Anna Bager, president and CEO of the OAAA, said in the release.