No other advertising form was as affected by the consequences of the corona pandemic as outdoor advertising. After the big slump in spring and an unexpected upswing in late summer, the second lockdown now raises again many questions for marketing decision-makers. We look at the developments to date and explain what can be learned for future OOH campaigns.
Out of home has been one of the big advertising winners in recent years. In late 2019 the Fachverband Außenwerbung (FAW) (Outdoor Advertising Association) spoke of a "brilliant advertising year" for out of home. Outdoor advertising increased by a full 13 percent in 2019, generating gross advertising revenues of €2.45 billion and contributing to almost half of the growth in the overall market for traditional media (€32.59 billion) in absolute figures. The advantages of outdoor advertising - low cost, high reach and acceptance because viewing is voluntary – are combined with the trend towards increasing urbanisation and mobility, as a result of which people have on average spent more and more time outdoors in cities in recent years.
Corona clears the advertising pillars
This success, however, ended with the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. From one day to the next, orders for outdoor advertising campaigns collapsed and after a short time tended towards zero. This was due to several reasons. Firstly, economic turbulence and uncertainties in the entire advertising industry caused many crisis-ridden companies to cut back on their advertising campaigns. Out of home campaigns were hit particularly hard as the lockdown increasingly prevented people from going to airports, shopping streets and centres. To make matters worse, one of the most important partners for outdoor advertising, the event industry, was hit hardest by the crisis - and ultimately no one needs to advertise cancelled concerts and film premieres. So it came as no surprise when advertising marketers such as Ströer or Wall announced major sales losses in the second quarter of 2020, especially in the outdoor advertising segment.
Out of home makes a comeback
However, after the decline in March, April and May, an upswing soon followed. Outdoor advertising returned in the summer together with the easing of the lockdown and increasing mobility on roads. Outdoor advertising provider WallDecaux took advantage of the general joy at the resurgence of public life with a campaign which celebrated its return to public space under the motto "Soon everything will be outdoors again". The general euphoria in the industry has continued until recently and the figures convey a similarly positive picture. One particular type of OOH is currently seeing consistently high growth rates: digital out of home (DOOH).
New technologies enjoy an upswing
The renewed lockdown now means that many marketing decision-makers are confronted with a situation similar to that in spring 2020. Does it make any sense to invest in outdoor advertising now? And if so, what kind of campaigns will be successful if the general situation does not improve in the coming weeks and months? The last few months have shown that out of home campaigns can work during the pandemic. In particular, the trend towards new forms of digital out of home and programmatic out of home offers many opportunities to counteract the more difficult effects of the crisis. Programmatic out of home, for example, means that digital outdoor advertising can be displayed automatically if pre-defined conditions - such as traffic jams, weather, etc. - are present, enabling much more precise audience targeting.
Italian fashion retailer Calzedonia is currently going one step further with so-called "Precision DOOH". With the help of smart first party targeting, customers in the shop are addressed on displays based on their interest in certain products. The trend, which began before the pandemic, is now experiencing a renewed boost due to the special circumstances. Particularly in a time of uncertainty and slow sales, more precise targeting of digital outdoor advertising can be a decisive factor in attracting more customers into the shops and motivating them to buy.
Reacting to the lockdown with new ideas and the right attitude
Special circumstances also give brands new opportunities to respond to the current situation with innovative and creative ideas. The beverage brands Hohes C and Warsteiner did this particularly well at the start of the first lockdown. They reminded all those who were obviously not adhering to lockdown rules with posters saying "We thank all those who do not see this poster" and "Stay healthy. Stay at home. Stay strong".
With this campaign, Hohes C and Warsteiner combined a creative idea with an important, contemporary and moral message. Current studies on brand trust suggest that showing the right attitude is more important than ever. In this context, Munich-based agency cocodibu came up with an excellent idea and asked several companies if their empty advertising space during the Corona crisis could be used for a good cause. Nine marketers of digital outdoor advertising immediately agreed and are now running a nationwide advertising campaign for Kindertraum, a charity organisation which fulfils the wishes of sick or handicapped children and teenagers.