How to Maximize the Power of DOOH in the “New Normal”

Despite continued widespread safety measures and strategic closures, there are encouraging signs that economic recovery is coming. More people are leaving their houses and returning to stores, cities, and jobs.

Though consumer attitudes and behaviors have shifted, consumers continue to engage with messages from marketers and depend on their favorite brands to stay with them through these shifts. A Kantar consumer survey at the start of the pandemic reflected that only 8% of consumers thought brands should stop advertising – they want to see brands as helpful in their everyday lives.

Now is the time for marketers who have spent the past six months on the sidelines, interpreting the signals buried in data and gathering learnings, to put their messages back out where consumers are active and engaged – increasingly, outside the home. As more digital screens become available, brands and businesses need to keep in mind the particularly timely benefits of digital out-of-home (DOOH) as a way to effectively and efficiently deploy their market spend in our “new normal.”

Be Contextual

Though we celebrate innovative ads that stand out from the crowd, consumers also want to see advertising that fits in within the larger context of their journey. Contextualization is especially important now, when every part of a consumer’s journey out of their home is carefully considered and intentionally executed. Marketers need to stay ahead of shifts in the consumer journey to ensure their message strikes the right tone, wherever their audience is.

Marketers should also capitalize on context in a way that is in sync with the screens inside consumers’ pockets. OOH increases clickthroughs on mobile by 15%, per research quoted by the IAB.  Advertisers need to mix, match, and move messages among screens to reach consumers with the right messages, at the right time, in the right place to engage and re-engage people. That also means targeting, measuring, and optimizing across channels to drive the best possible results.

Lean Into Flexibility

One of the classic advantages and usual considerations for DOOH is the ability to activate contextualized and dynamic creative in 24 to 72 hours (changing creative can take weeks for traditional OOH) to increase positive outcomes. Marketers can leverage this capability even more in the new normal just by paying close attention to where their audience goes.

Data from Ubimo’s Covid-19 dashboard shows the shifts in consumer journey with activity near DOOH screens picking up significantly in doctors’ offices, restaurants, and grocery stores over the last month. Of course, this could all change with the lifting of a government order or tightening of a lockdown. DOOH that’s run through programmatic platforms allows for dynamic creative optimization to adjust creative elements automatically according to what the AI shows is working outdoors and on other screens the consumer can see.

Marketers must also consider the restraints of the supply chain, especially as traditionally heavy retail seasons loom. Just as at the start of the pandemic the demand for everyday basics led to sold-out shelves, the back-to-school and holiday seasons could lead to similar scenarios. Internal communication about supply is important for DOOH marketers to move their message to wherever products are available. There’s little point in spurring demand to areas where the product can’t be purchased.

This is a trend we’re seeing as one that will remain and increase moving forward in the next couple of months and years; optimized marketing based on direct supply chain and sales data will be crucial and will allow increased efficacy in spend.

Considerations for Brand Categories

Certain brands, unfortunately, have been hit hard for obvious reasons and are way down in both consumer purchases and ad spend, even as entertainment and air travel slowly increase with consumer comfort. Brands coming back into the market should consider how messaging has changed since they left in order to stand out among the shifting crowd.

Other categories are projected to do well through the end of 2020 – food and beverage, health and beauty, toys, electronics, and office equipment round out the top 5 categories for retail e-commerce sales growth this year, according to new data from eMarketer.

Brands in these categories looking to maximize their digital spend can win on DOOH, benefitted by reduced prices and lessened competition from other brand categories that have dialed back their marketing efforts. It’s important to remember that consumers are still living in a physical world, though purchasing in many cases has shifted to digital.

Analysts say that DOOH will account for about one-third of all US out-of-home advertising this year. Marketers should not shy away from scaling up their investments again — as long as they do it strategically, following the considerations above. If they execute DOOH campaigns well, brands can increase their visibility to consumers who crave reassurance and use new data insights to plan for the future deeper into our new normal.

Roey Franco is VP of Innovation at Xaxis.

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