Remember the first lockdowns? Heady times weren't they--parks jammed with families, endless home-baked banana bread, awkward Zoom quizzes and a near-total removal of outdoor advertising.
Physical restrictions had an acute effect on advertising that was near instant. Running ads outside made no sense with everyone inside, and marketing dollars began flooding toward digital. Within weeks, poster sites turned apocalyptically blank and torn. London buses shone red all over, free from logos. By 2020, global out-of-home spending had shed nearly $10 billion in revenue, dropping from $37.9 billion to $28.1 billion. The pandemic was a reset moment for outdoor advertising: like clearing out a cluttered shed and promising never to let it get full of junk again.
Today, things have changed: Facebook has lost billions of dollars in market capitalization and is reporting revenue declines as digital costs soar. DTC pandemic winners like Peloton are desperate, shifting their distribution to include retail outlets and Amazon. Meanwhile, outdoor revenue growth has soared by more than 40% in the first quarter of 2022, taking advantage of fresh eyes as people return to the office, retail shopping, and socializing.
Outdoor - A Channel Reborn
And just as our lives have changed post-pandemic, so too has the role of outdoor. Outdoor is now a cost-effective option for start-ups, and scale-ups as rising costs and weaker attribution hit digital channels through the effects of iOS14 (some versions of which automatically opt users out of tracking). Brands are scaling their audiences through advertising to drive awareness and adoption of new digital platforms and consumer goods.
Simultaneously, outdoor advertising has become a digital channel itself. Today, it’s easier to think of posters as giant liquid crystal displays with all of the connectivity and capability of their mobile counterparts. Google has announced that Display and Video 360 ads will be available on outdoor sites, stating, “digital out-of-home is an increasingly popular option that brings the best of digital technology to a traditional advertising medium.”
Now is the perfect time to re-look at how best to use outdoor as it ascends back into the marketing mix as a channel reborn. Here are five observations:
While outdoor advertising has always been a popular way to reach consumers, its resurgence post-pandemic mirrors the growth of scale-up brands looking for ‘new’ ways to reach consumers. As our digital lives become more immersive, real life will become more valuable too. Every brand today needs to co-exist in physical and digital channels to win. The key is to find the right mix of online and offline tactics to reach users in a way that resonates with them. The ability to strike this balance is the new source of power and growth for brands. Welcome to outdoor advertising as the new digital-physical superpower.