By Anna Bager
Out of home (OOH) may be advertising's oldest medium, but time and time again, OOH has proven resilient in a dynamic ad industry that has evolved greatly over many decades. Today's OOH is as hyper-focused as any highly contextual media channel that uses data to inform campaign objectives to reach distinct audiences. Recognized historically by consumers for larger-than-life physicality, OOH offers advertisers much more with an ever-expanding array of formats and placements that reach busy consumers with relevant messages on their path to purchase.
Just like most other media channels today, OOH has benefitted from the innovative advancements of technology. OOH sits squarely at the transformative crossroads of targeted communications and a connected consumer journey powered by data, insights, and discrete audience measurement. OOH is tangibly real, connecting brands to consumers with contextual significance in the real world.
Customers Notice OOH Ads
A recent Harris Poll study revealed that 60 percent of consumers notice OOH more now than at pre-COVID levels. OOH ads have also driven half of all consumers to search online about brands. OOH is driving awareness for away-from-home activities like concerts and sporting events, with 69 percent of respondents saying they become aware of these events after seeing OOH ads.
OOH campaigns generate up to 67 percent ad recall, a figure higher than all other channels, according to a 2019 study by MRI/Simmons for OAAA. Furthermore, 75 percent of consumers are reportedly tuning out online and mobile advertising, which is attributed to device burnout. OOH provides tangible experiences, whether walking through a mall or along a busy city street, driving a highway, or riding a subway train. OOH is an intrinsic part of a person's daily journey, whether near or far from home, made more relevant through the use of data.
High Impact Ads That Are Viewable, Brand Safe, and Fraud Free
As marketers know, context is critical for reaching active consumers, and OOH's secret ingredient is proximity. New privacy concerns and regulations are affecting marketers' ability to target consumers. Cookies are going away, and while some publishers have had to reconsider core offerings to meet a privacy-first future, the OOH industry is immune to the fallout. OOH geotargeting is not reliant on cookies, making it the ultimate contextual medium. That's why savvy brands are making greater investments in OOH as the channel remains well positioned as a vital media option in tomorrow's cookieless world.
Furthermore, OOH is brand safe. It is unblockable and always viewable in the real world. OOH is seen by real people, not bots. It is never below the fold. These factors, combined with the versatility of OOH placements, make OOH a highly nimble media channel that can pivot when market conditions shift.
Digital OOH is addressable, allowing brands to shift messaging weekly, daily, or even hourly. Some brands shift sales promotions based on real-time inventory counts. Other brands have found success by applying real-world conditions to ad placements, such as advertising umbrellas when it rains and sunscreen when it's sunny. The flexibility of OOH is limited only by advertisers' imaginations.
Connecting Consumers from Offline to Online
It is no secret that mobile is the biggest driver of offline-to-online consumer behavior. But as OOH's mass reach has become more personalized, so too has an appreciation for OOH's ability to drive purchases and socialization in real time. According to a 2019 Nielsen Study, 66 percent of smartphone users have taken action after seeing an OOH ad.
Today's OOH industry is on equal footing with other media channels when it comes to programmatic transactions and addressability. OOH provides brands the unique opportunity to engage in one-to-many connections with like-minded consumer tribes using a constantly expanded dataset to inform OOH ad placements.
These factors have positively affected the steady growth of digital and video OOH, which are scaling faster than ever. While MAGNA projects a 6 percent increase for total media spend in 2021, digital OOH is forecasted to grow by 23 percent.
For more than a year, the pandemic has changed the American way of life. It has also caused a transformation in the way consumers respond to ads. Among many changes, the pandemic has shifted behaviors in a touchless world with a resurgence of the QR code through everyday activities like dining and purchases. Adults over the age of 18 have increased their use of QR codes by 31 percent since the start of the pandemic, according to a 2021 Harris Poll report.
Pedestrian-level OOH installations have become an essential part of the QR code transformation, too.
The Future of OOH Has Never Been Brighter
When it comes to proving ROI, advertisers' expectations went up during the pandemic, and they're not going back down. OOH can deliver the best of both worlds, being versatile enough to produce beautiful images that are as inspiring as they are affecting, while also optimizing and refining the use of data to find and influence on-the-go audiences.
OOH is the ultimate contextual medium — it is bigger and better than it's ever been. And as other media channels are forced to reconcile with altered consumer expectations, the OOH medium is poised to thrive.
About Author: Anna Bager is the president and CEO of OAAA, a partner in the ANA Thought Leadership Program.