In March of 2020, my agency had to do a lot of pivoting for our client’s media programs. Being in a locked down situation, meant re-evaluating current coordinated media plans, which included a variety of advertising mediums. It meant making many changes to them moving forward for the unforeseeable future.
Because people were shut in their homes and not out on the roads, these changes included a major shift from traditional Out of Home (OOH) messaging to a shifted increase to TV, OTT and Digital advertising. These moves, while not a hard decision to make due to the situation at hand, were a lot of work. Budgets needed to be moved, creatives needed to be changed and contracts had to be re-written. But we got it done.
Here we are, just over a year later with a completely different situation. The majority of American’s are tired of being stuck in their homes, have had their fill of TV, internet surfing and social media and are looking for ways to get out. The increase in both vaccine distribution and weather temperatures, now have people fleeing from their homes. According to the RV Industry Association, wholesale RV shipments are up by nearly 20% for 2021, and while business travel may still be down, 56% of consumers say they expect to travel for leisure this year (AHLA). These findings, backed by the states re-opening plans and lowering travel restrictions, all mean one thing…road trips will be up.
While 2020 may have been hard for the OOH industry, 2021 is shaping up to be much better. Roadway travel means more opportunity for billboard messaging to be seen. It’s no surprise that the OOH companies I deal with didn’t lower their rates as the pandemic starts to reseed. They knew business would come back!
Under the right circumstances and for the proper fit, I have always been a strong advocate for OOH messaging. This engaging medium is non-invasive and offers attention getting exposure. With geo-targeted placements and versatility, using static or digital boards, bus shelters, plane pulls, taxi tops, benches and even waste receptacles, there are plenty of opportunities to choose from. While consumers may not be “looking” for an OOH message, they will be sure to see it. For all these reasons, OOH ads will absolutely be back on the table for the consideration on future media plans in the second half of 2021.
For those that are looking to use OOH media placements, let me remind you of some tips on how to make an OOH campaign successful. First and foremost, make the messaging readable. While that may sound like a ridiculous thing to remind someone, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen billboard creative that would make for a better on-line banner or print ad. For OOH messages, the color should be bright, the words short and the images clear. A clutter free board is the best option for ensuring people who drive by it at 65 mph can see it, understand it, and remember it.
Next, make sure to find all the options available for OOH placement. There are the “big guys” in the OOH industry like Lamar, OutFront and Clear Channel. They may have a large majority of the opportunities for OOH marketing, but there are plenty of mid-size and smaller OOH media businesses that offer great placement opportunities if you look for and tap into them.
And last, while the OOH companies will provide you with photo sheets that have details with the image of the board, location and impressions, do your own due diligence and make sure that what they are selling you is what you are going to get. Often, these sheets have the most beautiful views of the boards with no obstructions and can include impressions based on roadways nearby the board but almost impossible to see, to inflate the number of eyes they believe the board receives.
I’m excited to see OOH media comeback. This year the rules for traveling may be a bit different, but the rules for OOH media placement and creative usage are not. If you are going to take advantage of this form of media moving forward, make sure to follow them to ensure the greatest success.
Maybe I’m most excited because it signals the beginning of us all getting back to a “bit more normal”!