The Grand Reopening: DOOH Strategies to Capitalize on Lifted Restrictions

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With vaccination rates continuing to increase and the majority of Covid-19 restrictions lifted, getting out and about is sparking joy in the vast majority of Americans. These happy consumers are ready to spend a lot this summer. In fact, recent research found plans to spend up to $2,000 on travel and vacations, $800 on retail, and nearly $600 on entertainment and activities. 

That said, there is a limited window of opportunity for marketers to capitalize on the elevated moods, pent-up demand, and positive brand associations that are being built during this return to normal life. Digital out-of-home (DOOH) marketing allows brands to integrate into these valuable in-the-world experiences while consumers are at their post-pandemic height of energy, engagement, and activity.

DOOH screens can be found in most of the locations that consumers were restricted from over the past year — such as bars, restaurants, malls and movie theaters — as well as essential places that consumers continued to visit, including convenience stores, gas stations, subways, grocery stores, and more. Now that people are returning in droves to these environments, marketers are using a variety of DOOH strategies to reach consumers.

Let’s review the strategies making DOOH among this summer’s most effective marketing channels.

Being Nimble in the Face of Covid 

Many marketers are getting creative with their messaging while keeping it flexible. Even with most restrictions lifted, brands are testing different creative messaging and location strategies based on the news cycle and government updates in areas with varying vaccination rates. 

Staying nimble, brands are running different ads across a variety of DOOH screens — based on location, time of day, passerby demographics and behaviors, weather, and many other factors. If there is a COVID rate spike or vaccination rates are dangerously low in a certain area, brands are shifting their campaigns to areas where it’s more appropriate to engage with consumers in the world. 

Since resuming normal activities outside the house, which are inciting relief and joy in consumers, ads with tones of positivity and hope are building promising associations with brands. For many organizations like restaurants, gyms, and retailers — where customers are excited but still a bit anxious about revisiting — digital signage is being used to showcase the changes made to ensure safety while in-store or on-premise, which ultimately reinforces consumer confidence in brands. 

Data-Driven Targeting and Measurement

More than ever, brands need to leverage available research and data points to make informed decisions about where to spend dollars and strategically position their media buys. 

Location data has established itself as an important asset during this time, as people are paving new behavior patterns that can guide targeting. These insights allow advertisers to analyze and understand where consumers are in fact going, as well as when and how often, so that brands can meet their target prospects when and where they are in the world. 

Programmatic DOOH and mobile points of interest (POI) targeting empower brands to activate media within a given radius of their retail locations timed with key grand re-opening or major sales events. DOOH is also being adapted as a conquesting tool. Many brands are surrounding their competitors’ locations with targeted ads that redirect consumers to their brick-and-mortar locations instead. 

And even though consumers are ready to spend big this summer, after the economic hardship of the past year, most companies still need to be thoughtful with their marketing budgets. Marketers have to prove their campaigns are making an impact and that no dollar is being wasted. Using advanced technology, programmatic DOOH only serves ads when and where the brand’s audience is most likely to be, which automatically minimizes wasted ad spend. 

Brands are investing in DOOH measurement solutions to not only prove that these efforts are delivering against campaign key performance indicators (KPIs), but also to gain insights for future initiatives. These measurement tools include brand studies, foot traffic studies, sales lift studies, online attribution, and more. 

The Return to Outdoors 

Consumers experiencing digital fatigue are exhausted and bored with staring at screens in their homes. Consumers have never been more excited to be outdoors and receptive to DOOH advertisements, which empowers brands to become part of the most joyous moments in people’s days. 

The variety of DOOH venues available delivers versatile ways for brands to engage and reconnect with consumers while they flood the outdoors and return to their normal activities with an itch to spend. The dynamic strategies and fluid environments of DOOH allow marketers to be thoughtful about reaching their audience in key micro-moments and be extremely responsive to changing market dynamics, which every marketing team needs and wants from its media channels.

Marissa Bernstein is Director of Marketing at Vistar Media.