Maximizing Brand Growth via OOH amid a Downturn

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Even the most optimistic have to admit we are facing a deeply uncertain economic climate as we head into the remainder of 2022.  Whether we’re in a recession or on the brink of one remains to be seen, but inflation, supply chain issues, and macroeconomic challenges are all a cause for concern for brands and advertisers. 

While marketing budgets are being put under microscopes, and channel allocation is being reexamined, one thing should remain clear — you do not stop advertising during a recession. Those brands that learn to adapt, use empathy to reach their consumers, and find a smart and strategic way to form a meaningful connection will ultimately build loyalty and remain top of mind.

Out-of-home advertising’s role in a possible recession

Out-of-home advertising spend will near pre-pandemic levels in 2022, thanks to a variety of factors such as the continued evolution of Digital OOH, growth of smarter cities/infrastructure, and ability to leverage measurement and attribution to truly understand brand impact. The channel as a whole has evolved from the last time the country went through a recession in 2008, opening up many more opportunities for brands looking to remain front and center for consumers during economic turmoil. 

Here are five strategic ways to maximize brand growth via OOH during a recession. 

  1. Create a list of core markets – Understand what markets you’re trying to reach and where you want to drive sales or enhance awareness. Work with an OOH specialist who understands market strengths and weaknesses to help you identify which markets are strongest in terms of OOH viability. For example, if you’re looking to be present in Texas — from an OOH standpoint, Dallas would likely make more sense than Houston or San Antonio. You can also learn which markets are most cost-effective and if there’s any seasonality within certain markets (i.e. NYFW in NYC). 
  1. Gather key audience demographics/insights – OOH plans are no longer put together based on how many cars pass a given billboard over the course of four weeks. Planning has evolved and can be centered around key brand audience insights. You can take a market, and understand what neighborhoods or even streets you should be advertising on based on target audience demographics. You may want to advertise in Los Angeles and be everywhere, but ultimately it may only make sense to advertise in Echo Park, Venice, and Culver City.  The more you know about your target audience, the better.
  1. Is there an event where you want to make a splash? This ultimately ties back to your audience.  Do you want to hit a high-end, fashion-forward crowd? Do you want to hit a marketing and tech-savvy crowd? Based on the time of the year, there could be a core event or conference it makes sense to home in on. This technically allows you to buy more conservatively and for a shorter period of time. It could be running on a digital boat or aerial banner in Miami for Art Basel. Maybe it’s branding pedicabs and building an airport presence in Austin for SXSW. It’s important to think about your audience and then think outside the box. 
  1. Don’t think traditional – Keeping with the trickle down theme, this ties back to the previous piece of advice in terms of thinking strategically – and outside the box. Traditional OOH campaigns run 4 weeks. Maybe it makes sense to run two weeks to allow you to maximize your budget, and have a wider reach. Ask the OOH partner you’re working with for creative specs for more commonly sized assets. Have creative ready to go for bus shelters and 14×48 billboards. Reach out to media partner, or your OOH partner and see if you can capitalize on last-minute remnant deals. Let them know you have creative ready to go. Also, think about using unusual OOH tactics — wrapping trucks for vast market coverage, key airport digital networks, private airport lounges, or branded pedicabs and city shuttle vehicles. The OOH landscape isn’t what it was in 2008, and you should remember that.
  1. Leverage Programmatic DOOH – Programmatic DOOH will double what it did in terms of spend from 2021 to 2022. The ability to reach a large audience, buy multiple screens in multiple environments, drill down to focus on audience, utilize real time triggers, and measure it all can be incredibly appealing to brand marketers. While pDOOH may not be ideal for a massive brand splash, it’s a great approach for brands who want to establish sustained presence across a given markets, and plays to an always-on strategy. 

Out-of-home shouldn’t be an oversight as a media channel during a recession. There are ways to be smart, strategic, and targeted while also being cost-effective. 

Find the a strong OOH partner who understands the space and challenge them. Challenge them to come back with unique ways to make a splash in a market. Challenge them to leverage spend with media partners across multiple markets for strong deals. Challenge them to find where your audience lives, works and plays. A recession can be daunting, but that doesn’t mean you should stop getting in front of your audience. Out-of-home can help you do that.