The return to OOH

This piece first appeared on Accord Marketing online blog on 23rd June 2020, written as a guest post by Nick Mawditt, Talon Managing Partner. 

After a difficult period, where OOH revenues are forecast to fall by more than 50% in Q2, OOH is already poised for a return to business this month as brands and retailers look to recover lost connections with audiences. As non-essential retail stores reopen to reports of queues for stores ranging from Primark to John Lewis and the Prime Minister’s own encouragement for people “to shop with confidence”, Talon’s own Ada data shows OOH roadside audiences projected to return to normal levels by the end of June.

OOH is uniquely placed to be the key channel for brands to reconnect with the public as we return to towns and cities and visit friends and family. The lifting of restrictions signals a significant social and cultural awakening as people emerge from enforced isolation and break free from their restrictive lifestyle.

YouGov research suggests that with people spending discernibly less on clothes, travel and takeaway food, these purchases will likely recover quickest. 25-34s, who made the biggest cutbacks whilst spending more on leisure wear and exercise, are the group most likely to return to previous spending patterns, whilst major purchases hit by the lockdown will recover more slowly, with brands’ help. Grocery, beauty products and clothing have had some success online, suggesting these will continue to be the first priorities for people in the coming weeks, perhaps migrating to high streets and shopping centres as the stores reopen.

There is a new opportunity for how brands can reconnect with audiences and customers that may have a very different mindset to where they were a couple of months ago. OOH has never been more prepared to deliver broadcast audiences, amplify social stories and prove the worth of communication spend. Brands can capitalise on flexible and high-quality digital inventory that deliver the location and context to talk to audiences as communities in a compelling and compassionate way.

Reconnecting with Audiences

Talon has prepared a number of Welcome Back to OOH packs, including targeting drivers as the UK’s traffic volumes return to normal with brand and activation messaging. Digital OOH on key roadside arterial routes across the UK, plus reach-building D6s, can deliver upwards of 5m impacts (for a five-day campaign), with our Ada tool able to identify relevant locations seen in the current climate.

Retail Reopening and Staycation packs target shoppers in mall and high street environments and those visiting family or heading to ‘staycation’ destinations across the summer, focusing on key arterial routes. All packs are fully flexible and location-targeted for those panels attracting relevant return to business audiences. They range from 25k spends up to 100k in retail and high streets and up to 225k reaching national audiences across two weeks.

Audiences are already back to something approaching 80% of pre-lockdown in some regions and at 100% for some OOH formats on local high streets. Traffic levels in the South West were the first to return to pre-pandemic levels. We are now forecasting journeys affecting roadside OOH to return to normal during w/c 22nd June. Roadside journeys outside London are already back to pre-lockdown levels.

Of course, digital OOH has never gone away. We’ve seen numerous Government, NHS, charity and support messages throughout. And some brave brands – from snack products to wine in a can – 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.

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. OOH gives brands opportunity, location and the all-important context to talk to audiences as communities in a compelling and compassionate way.

Consumers will likely look for trust and reassurance, 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.