Now, Near, Next, By Vizeum’s Diala Hamad

Vizeum’s business director, Diala Hamad looks at how OOH opportunities and practices are likely to evolve in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

The one thing everyone can agree on with Covid-19 is that human behaviour will have changed forever. How we travel, work, shop and play is going to change as a result of this pandemic. And, following the pandemic, it is unlikely that our behaviour will revert back to the way it was. In some ways, we simply won’t be able to, and in other ways, we simply won’t want to.

Much like the rest of the world, MENA has seen a staggered re-opening of shops, restaurants, leisure and entertainment venues over the last couple of months. With changing behaviour, changing infrastructure and changing attitudes, how can brands continue to leverage the previously unrivalled impact of OOH media? How can OOH be used to communicate and engage with customers most effectively now, in the near future and in the more distant future?

Despite all the changes happening around the world, unlike other media types such as digital, radio and TV, OOH remains the only un-skippable advertising medium. People don’t change a channel, people cannot block the ads and it is a 100 per cent safe environment compared with automated ad technology. No matter where your audiences are, OOH – especially when used across multiple environments – is still an incredibly effective and efficient channel to deliver broadcast reach across cities and can just as easily target localised areas.

OOH: the now

As bars and restaurants continue to reopen, getting customers back will be critical to a quick recovery. Using OOH, particularly DOOH, to signpost premises and special offers is a great way to nudge consumers and drive footfall.

Another tactic to get people into venues is simply through offers. Vouchering has traditionally been done via mobile, but more recently we have seen brands starting to use vouchering mechanics on dynamic DOOH. These messages can be triggered only to go live when capacity is at an acceptable level.

The region is evolving its OOH intelligence solutions; they can now provide data that includes viewership of each location by time of day and night. Using data collected from location signals (with the consent of smartphone owners) can add an additional layer of audience data, including key shopping behaviour and detailed demographic information.

OOH: the near

Beyond restaurants and bars, digital OOH can also be used to amplify outdoor performances and gigs as they begin to take place. Full-motion digital OOH has the capability to live-stream events.

If large events are limited in numbers, DOOH provides a way to reach a wider audience and share these experiences within communities. This capability also brings other opportunities to create deeper engagement with mobiles connected to OOH screens. Gamification, AR and vouchering mechanics are all set to rise as brands look to re-establish connections with consumers. QR codes too have seen a renaissance as a safe and seamless way for consumers to order food and drinks in restaurants and bars. Now, this technology is more understood by consumers, it could be a good time to explore codes once again on the right OOH sites.

OOH: the next

Technology in the region is also evolving to minimise campaign wastage. OOH solutions such as Locomizer tech can help customers to identify precise locations, so that they deliver their message to the right people at the right time.

The technology can identify high- affinity locations with an identified segment under different tier taxonomy (e.g. Autos > German cars > BMW), giving affinity strength signals. The platform tells you when and where an audience spends their time so that outdoor physical or digital advertising can be placed in the most effective locations at the most appropriate times of day, anywhere in the world.

The region’s OOH landscape is evolving in terms of locations and formats, as well as in the way we buy OOH. Programmatic is shifting the planning from a location-first to audience-first approach. By buying audiences rather than locations, brands minimise waste and focus on reaching out to a crowded location with high affinity with their audience. This then provides more data that can be used to re-target and gain deeper insights into customers.

Overall, no matter your audience, a multi-environment OOH approach can reach audiences as lockdown restrictions continue to relax but also as people adjust their lifestyles to keep safe and social distance far beyond government-enforced restrictions.

As our opportunities continue to open up, it’s time for advertisers to get back to playing in the out-of-home medium.

Using a combination of data-led planning to identify audience hotspots and movement patterns, optimising the best mix of environments and formats (digital, static and ambient) and relevant and engaging creative, OOH can deliver high reach quickly, produce shifts to established metrics, move brands top of mind and create excess share of voice to gain market share.