Brands Shift OOH Ad Strategy on Super Bowl Sunday

February is usually one of the busiest times of the year for brand advertisers. Between Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day, brands pull out all the stops on their out-of-home campaigns, and Super Bowl host cities are usually flooded with OOH ads atop taxis and billboards.

What’s in store for this year?

With Super Bowl LV expected to have the lowest attendance of any Super Bowl in history, Tampa is looking quite a bit different from the typical host city. Many brands are questioning how their ability to reach consumers via OOH advertising will be impacted. Could an increase in vaccine distribution and pent-up demand to be anywhere other than home fuel OOH like never before? Will the scarce number of Super Bowl-related events give brands a more captive audience outside of connected TV advertising? How will in-app promotions via food and grocery delivery be impacted?

A test run for OOH ad strategy

All signs point to this Super Bowl being a test case for OOH ad strategy in 2021.

“The unique circumstances of this year present brands with an opportunity. They will be able to focus on hyperlocal advertising on a national scale as audiences watch from home,” says James Heller, CEO and co-founder of Wrapify, a performance-driven ad tech platform.

Heller predicts that we’ll see more brands leveraging platforms that provide omnichannel exposure in neighborhoods nationwide. 

Although Firefly, a street-level media platform, announced that it was expanding its operations to Miami and rolling out more screens ahead of the nearby Super Bowl in Tampa, some ad tech firms have been hesitant to make big investments in the run-up to the big game.

CTV and OTT will likely play an even more important role than usual in this year’s Super Bowl strategies, with people at home and OOH campaigns sidelined. Heller says some brands are taking this as an opportunity to shift their strategy. 

Take AB InBev, for example. The company won’t be running in-game Super Bowl ads for the first time in 37 years, and is instead focusing on promoting vaccine awareness and distribution efforts. Heller says this will likely be a successful approach, and the company will probably get a boost in brand value as a result. 

Challenges and opportunities

According to a recent report by AdColony, 81% of consumers want Super Bowl ads to give them comic relief this year, and only 11% want to see political or social ads. Twelve percent more people plan to watch on connected TVs this year compared to 2020, and an increasing number of people plan to be texting, browsing social media, and playing mobile apps during the game, likely because they won’t be attending Super Bowl parties with their friends in person.

“It’ll be interesting to see what comes of on-demand and in-app delivery when it comes to OOH during the game, as that’s going to be of greater value than ever before,” Heller says.

Heller says it’s “imperative” that brands can see how OOH ads tied to food and grocery delivery impact online and in-app conversions, as well as engagement and retail attribution, during a time like Super Bowl weekend, when these services will be heavily used.  

“It’s by no means a stretch to say that vehicles with OOH ads in neighborhoods will deliver frequency and recall unmatched by any other moving format,” he says.

Integrating OOH advertising into CTV/OTT advertising efforts could make spots more memorable, and depending on how the game goes, we could see more campaigns leveraging the integrated approach throughout the rest of the year.

“Transit media and other street-level OOH, for example, has the ability to connect to a CTV and OTT exposure and is a slam dunk — or touchdown in this case,” says Heller, “for brands navigating the transition back to in-person meetings, entertainment and events.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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