On November 9, 2020, Campaign hosted its Online Briefing: OOH 2021. The pandemic meant lots of challenges to the different media industry’s channels and one of the most affected was out-of-home (OOH), as people were confined inside their homes. The panel of experts at Campaign’s webinar was comprised of Fadi Maktabi managing director, Hearts & Science; Siddarth Sivaprakash, head of marketing, Home Centre (Landmark Group) and Josiane Assaad, senior marketing director, Talabat. They shared their insights and learning experiences. Since lockdown was lifted the sector has begun to recover, but there are changes needed to thrive in the ‘new normal’. Our experts shared their insights about the adjustments they have made to their OOH strategy.
The topics discussed ran from how messaging has changed to the learnings for 2021.
Have a look at the complete conversation in the video. Below are some of the insights from our panel.
We had a lot of lockdowns whether in UAE or in other countries, which means that you have to adapt quickly and sometimes within less than 24 to 48 hours. Also, as the commuters were transitioning to work from home, whether fully or in hybrid mode, meant that we had fewer commuters, fewer eyeballs and then by default it impacts your reach on ad-spend… It also meant that we had to change a lot of the creatives so it resonates better with the changing dynamics of the whole Covid situation. Recently as the markets are opening up we are seeing a lot of competition when it comes to outdoor buying and planning.
When we started the year, we had the usual challenges with outdoor and that goes into measurability primarily and justifying the level of spend and the performance of the actual media, which over the last couples of years we started to see some cool things come on board when it comes to how you justify ROI and innovation. With or without the pandemic that was always a challenge for the media itself. We talked a lot about digital screens and the dream of having programmatic outdoor, which I think without the pandemic, maybe, would have seen a bit more of this year. The challenges that we’re amplified with the pandemic itself is really about supply-demand management. The pandemic exposed the “not so nice to have locations”, it also highlighted “the nice to have locations”, a lamppost in Sheikh Zayed road will always be valuable, with or without lockdown they remain to be valuable.
In general, something that we’ve been struggling with over the last few years is justifying the costs on outdoor. Certain aspects of out-of-home media, just because of still very nascent information on measurability and how we can track our ROI effectiveness, there is very low information on attribution models, so that’s been a bit of a challenge and continues to be a challenge.
The most mature markets are the ones that are the most regulated. You look at the GCC and you have specific formats and the need for government approvals. You go to Egypt and you battle with clutter and in some cases, quality. That’s one of the biggest things you see across markets. The second, is again the more mature the market the more systemised things are.
Outdoor is definitely a very powerful tool when it comes to growth market, especially in markets that are still transitioning from offline to online and e-commerce. So, it is definitely a powerful tool in countries like Egypt, Jordan, also in the UAE, which is also quite a competitive market and there are a lot of outdoor players, that makes it an expensive market, which also has its own strengths and challenges.
Our largest market in terms of geography would be Saudi Arabia and the dynamics are a little different. We do a lot of digital LED screens. Across Saudi Arabia, we have over 30 stores. There are some really remote towns where we exist, so outdoor is definitely a medium that helps. We follow a two-prong approach when it comes to OOH media for Home Centre. The smaller formats are used for more of a tactical purpose, so if you’re talking about lampposts, bridge banners, megacoms, mupis and so on, they work really well for us from a tactical point of view, they have high frequency and I think that works quite effectively across markets… when it comes to the major cities, for our flagship stores, we look at larger formats and that’s primarily from a brand point of view.
This newer normal phase we’re all in is where we really start to see the power of outdoor coming back because people want to be out, people want to live a normal life as much as possible. What I ask everyone to do is look at the outdoor now and the kind of messaging that is in that outdoor, a lot of it is to drive to e-commerce.
We had a big major campaign going 360. We just finished our rebrand with a new interface and our big 360 regional campaign that was supposed to go live 2 days when lockdown started. Besides the whole operational element of cancelling the media, and in some countries, we were not able to cancel, so eventually they ended up going live, there’s also the element of what messaging you go with… so, a lot of it was not transactional or emotional was more of creating that safety, communicating what we are doing, what measure we’re taking from contactless to paying through credit card.
(Q&A session question: in a scenario where you want to design a campaign that will bring more sales what would be more effective, frequency or size?)
Frequency over size, for sure. It goes back to if you are a retail brand, just brick and mortar or you are omnichannel. Locations and knowing what catchments you really want to target makes a big difference.