OOH Returns With a New Narrative

This article first appeared on mediatel news on 3rd June 2020.

June signals a rebirth for our approach helping brands connect with audiences that may now have a very different mindset post-lockdown. By Barry Cupples

Emerging Trends and Strategies

After a difficult period, where OOH revenues are forecast to fall by more than 50% in Q2, OOH is poised for a return to business this month as brands and retailers look to recover lost connections with audiences.

Car showrooms and markets follow a growing takeaway and collect business from June 1st, whilst the reopening of schools, the return of elite sport and a green light for other retailers on June 15th signals a key month of getting the country back on its feet.

As we’ve seen with businesses opening already in town centres and on high streets to help regenerate the local economy – and even the queues at Ikea this week – it signals a clear desire to stimulate a recovery in our lives…and the weather’s helping for a change.

Audiences are now back to something approaching 80% of pre-Lockdown. Our Ada platform data tracking journeys and movements weekly shows traffic levels outside of London to already be around three-quarters of that; and we’re seeing significant increases across many locations now, particularly the lifeblood of the OOH channel, roadside.

Of course, digital OOH has never really gone away. I’m incredibly proud of the numerous Government, charity and support messages that we’ve seen on digital screens across the country in the past couple of months, celebrating a level of harmony for the NHS, key workers and almost unprecedented in this country.

Talon’s hugely collaborative Sending Love campaign, running across more than 70 countries showed how far global OOH has come in recent years, where simple messages and images have been shared across some of the world’s iconic screens in an unparalleled show of solidarity.

And of course, we have had some brands out there too. From supermarkets, and entertainment brands who have enjoyed new relationships with consumers in lockdown, to brave smaller brands – snack products and even wine in a can – that have taken the opportunity to come to market to gain real standout and share of voice to those who have been out and about. These campaigns have really resonated, using the visual impact of digital OOH screens that support context.

In lockdown, we’ve lived through many changes from week to week – Zoom calls, clapping our key workers on a Thursday and resetting our lives away from extended family and colleagues. Difficult decisions have been made to get through this, but June really does signal a rebirth for our approach to how we can help brands reconnect with audiences and customers that may have a very different mindset to where they were a couple of months ago.


Whilst we simply don’t know what the next six months really look like, now seems the right time to come back to market with a refreshed narrative, around giving clients what they really want, appreciating the business challenges we’ve all lived through.

Consumers will have various concerns about connecting with brands and the outside world. Communicating brand safety (that’s taken on a whole new meaning now) in the right tone is paramount. I don’t worry about this as from what we’ve seen through the lockdown, brands will measure the moment and react. Importantly, OOH gives them the location and context to talk to audiences as communities in a compelling and compassionate way.

Above all, consumers will look for trust and reassurance, particularly with local resonance. We saw this at the last recession and OOH was well placed meet the challenge. It’s the right time to re-establish OOH with a new narrative in how we plan, deliver and measure effective and integrated OOH advertising.

Flexible and high-quality digital inventory that supports the bedrock of classic OOH – combined with data-led, evidence-based communications solutions that work – mean we are well placed to set a progressive agenda.

Other channels will have to adapt as well; OOH has never been more prepared to deliver broadcast audiences, amplify social stories and above all, prove the worth of communication spend. With audiences having been deprived of basic leisure and family pursuits, many will be keen to spend more time out of home than ever. At Talon, our true expertise in location and audience movements, will be able to find them to deliver effective campaigns.

Using smart location data, our intelligent, data-driven audience targeting and measurement platform Ada has helped us navigate lockdown audience movements and we’re seeing volumes returning to significant levels. Emerging with a fresh mindset, we can plan and measure comms that is directed at – and pays for – the right audiences and locations for all our clients, thanks also to the flexibility and collaboration of our media owner partners. Well considered Back to OOH packs that focus on audiences in roadside, staycation travel and the return to retail will ensure our OOH planning stays relevant and accountable.

And working collaboratively with a consolidated and technology-literate industry, our new narrative will embrace technology to revolutionise and improve how we deliver campaigns. Flexible, automated tech that serves clients using OOH and intelligent data-led, measured campaigns will be our new curation for 2020. We’re ready for that challenge and a return that reflects changing consumer and business outlook.