Study: OOH takes on ‘new potency’ as consumers head outside, burn out on devices

Dive Brief:

  • Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is becoming more effective in early 2021 as consumers increase their time commuting, use more contactless technologies and seek outdoor dining and activities, while simultaneously tuning out digital device ads due to burnout. The findings appear in “Consumer Insights & Intent: Q1 2021,” a report by the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and The Harris Poll.
  • 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 — while OOH is 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 reported in the OAAA report, including 75% of consumers who are tuning out digital device ads due to excessive time spent in front of screens. The survey polled a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults and was conducted from Jan. 15-20.

Dive Insight:

As the one-year anniversary approaches for COVID-related lockdowns in the U.S., the “Consumer Insights & Intent: Q1 2021” report by the OAAA and The Harris Poll indicate that OOH advertising could return to greater prominence in the marketing mix as some consumers, particularly those in major cities, start commuting and embrace outdoor activities more. At the same time, digital device burnout — a trend that is likely to continue as the pandemic persists — has led to increased attention paid to OOH ads and less attention to digital ads.

“People are eager to make up for lost time,” John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll said in a press release. “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 (AR), 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 marketing campaigns have marked this shift toward OOH and away from at-home activations on platforms like Zoom. Dole Packaged Foods launched a multichannel campaign to raise awareness about food insecurity and the negative effects of improper nutrition on personal health through outdoor projections in several cities that resemble the nutrition facts labels on packaged foods. As part of its “Invest Your Heartbeats in the Life Artois” multichannel campaign, Stella Artois will offer “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 press release.

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