Industry snapshot: James Bicknell, BackLite Media

James Bicknell, CEO, BackLite Media

Has the pandemic fundamentally changed OOH?

When the pandemic started, OOH advertising took a significant hit, and revenue levels dropped by more than 70 per cent due to government lockdowns and restrictions.

The pandemic created uncertainty worldwide. Marketing budgets are fragile and connected to matters such as sales, company performance and profit-and-loss sheets. Everyone decided to delay advertising campaigns to monitor how long these restrictions would last and what the permanent effects would be.

The uncertainty affected how OOH is booked and perceived. Rather than being reserved for the long term to secure a strategic location that guarantees visibility and market share, marketers started to lean towards a short-term wait-and-see approach.

How are client demands changing?

With people spending more time on digital platforms, new marketing approaches represented by user-generated content (UGC) are more dominant. These approaches force the marketing messages to be more interactive, engaging, and product-oriented to drive sales rather than brand-recognition approaches that use OOH adverting as a tool. Moving away from traditional OOH advertising locations towards digital OOH (DOOH) was a must to provide the flexibility required by new marketing trends.

Many sectors were heavily affected by the pandemic due to a shift in consumer behaviour that focused on more essential products. This changed the category of advertisers and opened the door to many new players and sectors who invested heavily in OOH advertising, which was out of their reach pre-pandemic.

Where should OOH sit in the marketing funnel?

The first stage of the marketing funnel is awareness. That’s why OOH is considered one of the most effective ways to advertise and communicate with the target audience via unmissable iconic locations, creating awareness and trust in the brand or product.

People are on the go again and even more hungry to consume products and advertising messages on their daily commuting routine; this underlines the importance and impact of OOH on customers’ decisions to purchase a product.

What role should technology play in OOH? 

Technology and data are causing a paradigm shift in the advertising world. It became essential for any marketing plan to be empowered by data and the latest technology.

The targeted audience approach has dominated marketing plans due to the ease of using technology and digital platforms. Digital OOH and programmatic DOOH are thriving. They provide the flexibility required to automate the buying process and update messages, live feeds and daypart campaigns. Many tools have emerged to offer measurability and accountability of OOH, bringing to the table data such as total impressions, opportunity to see (OTS), reach, and audience composition. This information helps clients to justify their investments and select locations.

Technology will continue to evolve and integrate more with OOH. It is considered the bridge between customers’ perceptions and marketing trends. It also links online and offline advertising, taking the content from the big screen to the small one and vice-versa.