Reset Recover & Rise – OOH in a Post Covid 19 Europe

Tom Perrett, Client Services Director at Plexus & Winnie Karst, Managing Director at Talon Germany.

Reset Recover and Rise has been our theme for Plexus over the last year. Recognising that in terms of mobility, OOH consumption and international connectivity, there’s no overall rules for how we’ll exit the pandemic. What we can say though is that broadly, countries fit in one of these three categories: Reset – still impacted by the shock and establishing the best next steps; Recover – putting the frameworks in place for a sustained period of growth; and Rise – Demonstrating clear acceleration out of the crisis.

We must recognise that 2020 has been a monumentally challenging time for the OOH markets in Europe, and indeed across the globe. Global spend in OOH dropped by an estimated 27%, with UK as high as -46% and Italy -55%. But we have to look forward. Whilst it’s been a hugely challenging period, disruption brings innovation. And as we begin to progressively exit lockdowns across Europe, vaccines give us greater certainty around making the most of this upward trajectory.

The COVID-19 Storm clouds are clearing and there is real light at the end of the tunnel. The UK is a good example of where the recovery framework has built consumer confidence and ultimately purchasing power. WARC data suggests UK ad growth in 2021 will lead global markets; Italy and Germany also feature in the top 10 for global growth.

As Europe begins to Reset, Recover and Rise, these are the critical factors we believe will be the biggest influences on the OOH recovery across the region, with economic and mobility data, alongside Digital OOH analysis, critical for understanding and projecting OOH recovery.

  • A structured post lockdown roadmap
  • Positive Consumer Sentiment
  • An established Digital OOH framework
  • Data and technology
  • Context and Creativity from Brands
  • Continued media owner investment

Structured Post Lockdown Roadmap 

A clear, structured path out of the crisis, underpinned by vaccinations is key to a sustainable return of Out of Home audiences. Greater mobility means greater consumption of OOH, indicated by results from the recent opening of retail environments in the UK, where footfall more than doubled and has continued to accelerate.

A stable return will also positively influence European markets. Business and leisure travellers are primed and ready to go again and we’ve seen crazy numbers already – a 337% increase in bookings with EasyJet and +1000% from – just in the 24 hours after a green light for travel. Airlines are even laying on bigger planes to fly to Portugal from the UK.

Positive Consumer Sentiment 

People want to return to normality and be active. Italians, French and the Belgians are most keen to resume leisure travel and Germans, Swiss and the French most keen to resume business travel.

Current forecasts suggest that the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of June is expecting 35,000 attendees. And with with the Euro’s also on the agenda for June, movements of attendees and fans will have big influences on OOH delivery. Understanding changes in previous patterns will be vital.

Established DOOH markets 

Markets with a high digital OOH footprint have a strong fundamental base for recovery. Our insight tool DataPlex allows us to consolidate and compare mobility, economic and DOOH development factors internationally. This is critical to understanding a clear recovery path using OOH advertising.

DOOH investment allows for agile and easily implemented activity. Flexible, later booking, contextual opportunities are just another few features of why this is the case.

Valuable insight into mobility indexing informs when each country will likely return to normality. For example, current public transport audiences in the UK are down 19%, but down just 2% in Switzerland.

Data and Technology 

Accelerated data and technology capabilities will supercharge the development of automated and programmatic OOH, a key driver for recovery. Augmented measurement systems across Europe demonstrate real agility, integration and progress and Talon will continue to develop Atlas, its proprietary programmatic technology for the UK market, whilst linking to the Hivestack DSP in global markets and through Plexus, where we can utilise our Ada DMP platform and our DataPlex insights.

Context and Creativity 

Markets that have the ability through connected DOOH to deliver post-Covid messaging with the right context will have an accelerated recovery. We have seen some great examples across Europe and many campaigns deliver earned media through shareability. 45% of audiences notice OOH ads more post the pandemic, particularly if contextually relevant around location and content. In the UK, a study of campaigns across 2020 showed proven results for brands that stayed active, with increases in ad recall, consideration and purchase intent even in 2020 – 50+ brands study.

Media Owner Investment 

The proof in this positivity can be exemplified with clear ongoing media owner investment in OOH. There are numerous key examples in cities across Europe of bold media sites used by cities and government bodies to inform audiences and emerging digital media opportunities that really stand out.

Authorities have understood that digital OOH media sites support the exchange of communication with audiences in the relevant cities. Thus, the ability to get permits for new sites is not as difficult as before. On top of that are the relevant and contextual elements of the digital screens now fully realised, for example, the use of different languages for messages and ads shown.

Each of these elements points towards OOH’s reset, recovery and rise from here, and certainly generating greater client confidence across the remainder of 2021. As vaccinations bring more certainty over structured recovery plans, mindsets are changing in many positive ways – people do really want to spend and to travel. Digital OOH investment brings greater agility for returning advertisers, and more opportunity via DSPs as well as traditional sources, with data and insight capabilities having accelerated development towards far greater accountability for brands. The contextual potential for brands to connect with audiences in a host of different environments is huge and as investment continues, we are well placed to kick start a genuine reset, recovery and rise in 2021.

Sources: Talon, Ada, Statista.

Tom Perrett and Winnie Karst presented at the World OOH Forum on May 18th 2021.