DOOH Growth Trajectory in 2021

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After a year spending a great deal of time at home and on screens, people want to get outside—making digital out-of-home (DOOH) a huge opportunity this year.

As the vaccines roll out in 2021, we expect more people will feel comfortable venturing out, as spikes in the virus start to diminish. There is going to be a continued opportunity for DOOH as venues start to open up and advertisers can reconnect their brands in those environments.

In 2020, shopping was very purposeful. Some consumers reduced outings to go to the grocery store and other essential places, but in pre-Covid times, trips were a part of other journeys. For instance, as you’re on your way home from work, you may have stopped for groceries; or after you dropped your kids off at school, you’d go to the gym.

As we get into a more controlled understanding of what Covid-19 looks like, and hopefully it starts to go away, we will see more of those multi-trip stops again. DOOH can be there when those moments arise to connect with consumers in a more meaningful way. 

In a post-COVID world, whether the trip is purposeful or multi-stop, it’s important to lean on data to inform venue visitation. Consumer movement and behavior will continue to shift based on unique conditions city by city, and data-driven DOOH will allow advertisers to stay connected with their shoppers and grow.

Pillars of the industry

The primary pillars of the industry (audience identification, targeting, and measurement) provide an opportunity for brands to integrate DOOH into their local campaigns for a different way to achieve ROI.

Out-of-Home (OOH) as an industry has always been local at its core. It is a hyper-local media channel, available at scale for national advertisers to leverage available inventory across the U.S. As national advertisers pioneer precision targeting and data-driven campaigns, it’s inevitably going to play to the strength of OOH and DOOH and the channel’s ability to drive more local business. 

Brands are advertising their business to their local communities. The ability to bring these local businesses a data-driven solution based on audiences they haven’t targeted, and real-time data that shows what screens or billboards they should be buying, is particularly impactful. Advertisers want to make sure that every dollar counts, so the ability to tell a more precise, insightful story will continue to drive OOH growth nationally and locally.

Future of omnichannel and DOOH measurement

DOOH is increasingly becoming part of the omnichannel strategy. OOH historically was a real estate-driven business. Today, OOH can do more than just “Buy this billboard across the street from my business or across from this client.” OOH can also offer, “This board reaches ‘x’ number of women, 25 to 54, who drive a Honda or buy frozen pizza.” 

Tying back to audiences has allowed us to become a part of the omnichannel world. As more clients start to see OOH as one of the many touch points to engage with consumers, there’s a higher propensity for them to participate in the whole omnichannel experience through digital, display, mobile, and more.

It’s only going to get better as we start to tell more meaningful stories related to measuring sales; OOH can now show what it specifically drove in sales in a multi-media campaign. The ability to tie back its efficacy to a broader campaign will continue to push dollars into the space.

What to expect for brands in 2021

We’re starting to see greater use of DOOH due to audience-based targeting, the ability to measure, and deeper integration through an omnichannel approach. Some brands are changing their view of OOH since it can get closer to the point of purchase as well as influence buyers’ choices. 

Historically, OOH has been viewed as an upper-funnel strategy that broadens awareness. OOH can also get much closer, for instance in the parking lot of a supermarket, or physically inside the store when people are about to make a purchase decision. That’s changing the perception around the role that DOOH can play.  

While this by itself is nothing new, what’s different today is that we can identify the right screens to buy in store, on site, or in route to the store based on brand or category purchase data, and then measure the success post-campaign. An end-to-end solution that’s accountable is what is appealing to many brands. Because shopper budgets are performance-driven, DOOH is now able to be a performance media channel.

We can also expect more programmatic activation. The ability to buy inventory programmatically, pivot when we need to pivot, move money from one market to another, start and stop campaigns on short notice, leverage real-time movement insights, and serve impressions when our advertisers need to connect with present consumers is especially important during these times. It’s about matching the right screen, at the right time, in the right place. 

On top of that, the fact that we can measure it all helps us validate what we’ve known all along: OOH is a powerful way for brands to connect with their core shoppers.

Norm Chait is Director of OOH at Ubimo.