Flexibility, Agility and Relevance will be key ingredients in post-lockdown advertising…

May 2020

Reflecting and respecting the mood of the country has been a key theme for advertisers during this Pandemic, with the brands that have, seeing their work shared and celebrated.

What comes next with lock-down is still unclear, although it seems unlikely that it’ll be one big release event, where we all switch back to normal.  It’s beginning to look like people will be released in stages, with different towns and cities coming out at different times, different types of industries gradually opening up, and then there might be times when we are locked down again if the virus spikes.  What does seem certain though is that no one will be going back to what is already becoming the “old” normal for a long time, if ever.

It is also very clear that this will have a huge impact on how advertisers communicate with customers moving forward.  Flexibility, agility and relevance will be key ingredients in designing communications in the coming months, if not years:

Flexibility – the need to flex how, where and when advertisers talk to people

Agility – the need to react at speed to new demands, behaviours and insights

Relevancy – the need to make messaging appropriate and sensitive to changing moods and events

While out of home is not the right medium for some advertisers in the now, as we head into the near and next phases of the pandemic, with lockdown easing, out of home, and digital out of home specifically, will in fact be well placed to respond to these needs – reaching audiences wherever they are and as they relish their time back out in the world with an appetite for the new and different.

Although we are technically in lockdown, people are out of home.  Perhaps not in the usual way but still travelling for exercise, essentials or to support vulnerable family and friends.

Mobility data from Apple from the 3rd -24th April shows that requests for walking and driving directions increased by around seven percentage points, suggesting people are out exploring their locales for more new public spaces to roam, looking for an alternative to their understocked local supermarket, or perhaps its delivery drivers navigating new e-commerce customer territories – or just enthusiasm for that rare British sunshine.

Recent data from Nielsen shows that £9 in every £10 spent (90%) is still taking place in physical stores, and largely taking place locally.  Local convenience stores, especially independents such as Nisa, Londis and Spar are reporting phenomenal year-on-year sales growth of 45% in the four weeks to 22nd March, 20.6% ahead of the rest of the industry.

Out of home is typically considered for mass reach, and while DOOH can provide quick mass reach, able to reach two thirds of the UK population at any one time, the beauty of the digitised screen network is that it is also capable of targeting specific regions, cities, towns and particular locations.  Of significant importance to those advertisers wanting to reach people in their local communities. The Co-op has recognised this, putting DOOH in the media mix for its latest work paying tribute to local heroes as part of its partnership with the charity FareShare.

The flexibility and agility of DOOH also gives advertisers the opportunity to target audiences by specific moments of relevance and to adapt creative messages dynamically against any number of criteria; reflecting time, location, weather and numerous other live data sources such as pollution or pollen, time countdowns, stock levels or price alterations.  All at speed and at scale, on one of the most trusted, public and shared mediums.  Certainly, for Government, local authorities, charities and travel providers, this could become a crucial canvas for community communication as services begin to come back.

DOOH will allow brands to have the flexibility, agility and relevancy that will be required in communications over the coming months – just as any other digital media does.  Campaigns can be turned on within a matter of hours and changed whenever advertisers want, using multiple creative executions, and perhaps most importantly, deliver better than ever Ad Recall and Sales Uplift.

Just a few weeks before the UK went into full lockdown, Clear Channel, JCDecaux and Posterscope unveiled some ground-breaking research to understand the impact of dynamically serving Digital OOH.  The Moments of Truth is the world’s most comprehensive study into the power of relevancy in OOH and demonstrated a rise in effectiveness across all metrics from brain response (+18%) to Spontaneous Ad recall (+17%) and Sales Uplift (16%), giving an overall uplift of 17% in digital OOH Effectiveness.  Clearly the world is very different now, but the findings remain true – dynamic creative on digital out of home drives improves campaign effectiveness and ultimately drives sales.

As we dare to start considering a time when we will have more opportunity to be out and about, so advertisers must start planning how best to engage with us.  In the current circumstances, understanding this will be crucial, and picking the best time and place and the right message will be a powerful tool as we emerge from lockdown.  Yes, times have been tough for out of home but ignore it at your peril.