OOH: A Look at Out-of-Home Advertising in a Post-Pandemic World


Out-of-home advertising is becoming more effective in early 2021. Here's a closer look at how such advertising works in a post-pandemic world.

We've dealt with work-from-home policies, stay-at-home orders, lockdowns, and travel restrictions because of the pandemic. Consumers in the post-pandemic world are looking forward to being outside. People are ditching the indoor life for outdoor dining experiences, travel, and contactless technologies. Everyone is making up for lost time. 

In the post-pandemic world, it pays to market to a consumer on the move. Out-of-home advertising is making a comeback. And it’s worth keeping up with people who are tired of being cooped up in their homes.

As a business owner, you likely have the following question on your mind: “How can I adjust my marketing strategy to meet consumers at their points of interest?”

What Does the Data Show?

Despite taking a hit when the pandemic began, out-of-home advertising (or OOH advertising) has made an incredible comeback in 2021. The Consumer Insights & Intent Q1 2021 Report by the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and The Harris Poll found that more consumers are spending their time commuting, and many are intentionally seeking activities that draw them outside. 

The increased attention given to OOH ads is attributed to changing consumer interests. It’s also due to consumers’ desire to tune out advertising on their devices. In fact, 75% of consumers are switching off digital advertisements on their devices because of digital device burnout. As such, advertisers should meet the consumers where they are: outside. 

Additionally, the data shows that 78% of millennials are looking for safe outdoor events, whereas 82% of the Gen Z population are searching for outdoor dining options. These areas provide ripe grounds for OOH advertising. The report findings further suggest that marketers can focus OOH advertising on places where consumers use tap-to-pay and QR codes. 

Rethinking Out-of-Home Advertising During the Pandemic and Post Pandemic 

Everything changed when the pandemic struck. Cost-cutting measures followed shortly afterward, and businesses struggled to stay afloat. Fortunately, OOH advertisers have reemerged to spread awareness and bring much-needed color back to the streets. 

The pandemic forced brands to rethink their marketing to find something that would fit in all contexts. Specifically, they needed the right message, sent at the right moment, displayed to the right people, and produced at the right cost. The OOH approach provided the perfect platform to deliver relevant, immediate, and engaging messages to the target audience at a reasonable cost. Additionally, OOH ads may seem a bit old school, but brands are finding ways to apply lessons learned from digital marketing and deliver compelling messages.

Agencies took the data analysis from digital marketing to determine where consumers were focused. Consumers were suddenly unable to walk in the streets and drive around as freely as they wished. However, they were forever present in the most obvious areas: malls, food supply stores, and gas pumps. 

Increasing OOH Advertising

Shortly afterward, the popularity of programmatic OOH advertising increased. The industry suddenly had publishers, clients, and data agencies looking to purchase OOH in real-time. For these reasons, out-of-home advertising is now more responsive. Clients can buy the newest data to target clients and enjoy real-time reports. 

Digital billboards may soon overtake traditional print displays because they support high-resolution images and data-driven marketing. Clients and agencies can bid competitively for peak traffic periods while allowing other brands to advertise their products in the same space. In addition, advertisers can invest in stationary and mobile digital OOH ad spaces.

Another factor to consider is that while movement decreased in general, it increased in localities. Suburban pockets became a reality in most cities. People flooded local shopping centers to get daily supplies. Queuing became more common as shoppers practiced social distancing. Because of this, outside advertising was the most effective way to reach consumers walking and driving short distances. 

Most notably, consumers changed their shopping patterns. With less time in offices and more time working from home, people created flexible shopping routines. Consumers could dash to the local store at lunchtime, instead of picking up groceries after leaving offices and workspaces in the evenings. 

In times of fear, confusion, and uncertainty, it feels safer to be grounded in your community. As such, consumers needed authentic and reassuring messages around them instead of the usual disruptive digital ads. OOH advertising proved relevant in delivering powerful, authentic, and emotionally compelling ads to consumers. The local shopping trend is likely to continue, which is promising for OOH advertising. 

Where to Place OOH Ads

A survey from the National Retail Foundation predicts that retail sales will expand between 6.5% and 8.2%. The high volumes are a result of more consumers choosing to shop online during the lockdowns. However, because the country has started to open, more consumers are willing to go to local stores. 

A survey from IRI found that 99% of shoppers feel safe shopping in stores with hand sanitizers. In 2021, branded sanitizers and sanitizing kiosks in retail stores are tactics work adopting. The survey also found that shoppers are more willing to take wipes home. Hygiene products such as wipes are another excellent way for companies to market themselves to consumers. Additionally, trying out these methods could potentially help increase brand salience

Why You Should Invest in OOH Ads

Team of business owners planning for their company's social media marketing.

MAGNA expects ad spending for OOH advertising to grow by 11.3% in 2021 after a strong decline of 24.2% in 2021. Zenith also forecasts an 11.1% increase in year-over-year spending in OOH advertising. What's more, according to the CMO Council, 65% of global marketers plan to increase their spending. The data suggests that businesses are eager to capture lost revenue, and falling behind could mean losing vital sales. 

Bottom Line

Investing in out-of-home advertising is crucial for businesses hoping to grasp consumer attention and improve sales in 2021, especially in local areas. With more people venturing outside, your company’s advertising should be visible there too. So, look for ways to reach your target market beyond the digital realm.  

Does this mean that you should abandon your social media strategy for 2021? Absolutely not! You should continue to take a 360-degree approach that allows you to reach your ideal customers at various touchpoints, including social. Moving forward, think like a modern marketer. Use OOH advertising, social media, and other tactics to your advantage. And don’t forget that authentic, straightforward, yet emotive conversations are the best way to draw consumer attention, especially when users are experiencing digital burnout.


At Viral Solutions we are committed to seeing YOU succeed. It is our goal to grow your business with proven digital marketing strategies that will help your business for the long haul.

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Filed Under: Business Tips