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One year on, are we seeing the return of OOH?

After 3 months of another ‘hard’ lockdown, there is light at the end of the tunnel with non-essential shops, outdoor hospitality, and services such as hairdressing starting to reopen, as well as being able to mix with up to 5 people from other households. OOH providers would suggest this change in restriction means more people will be out and about – on public transport, walking the high street, and driving to visit family and friends, but what does the data suggest?

OpenMind, Open Outdoor’s AI tool, analyses multiple data sources to predict audience mobility trends, based on a pre-lockdown baseline of 100 in January 2020. Currently, national mobility is predicted to be on the rise, with a steep increase expected to come on May 17 when more restrictions are relaxed – seeing mobility up to 74%. Data taken from Three, suggests these forecasts are proving accurate – with April 9th seeing national mobility at 68%, even higher outside of London at 70%.

OOH availability suggests confidence is rising as well, though likely being bought on a more short-term basis than was perhaps the trend before lockdowns. Roadside is seeing the bulk of activity, with 81% of 6 sheets already sold for the 19th April intake and bookings filling up for post 17th May (75% sold and 85% sold for 31st May). Roadside 96 sheets availability is a clear depiction of market confidence returning, with 19th April intake only 35% sold, but 17th May intake 73% sold.

Public transport, however, is not seeing this same increase – likely a result of the continued WFH approach many are taking meaning fewer commuters into city centres and rather local high streets seeing the increase in footfall – people are still moving around, just staying local.

All Response Media viewpoint

It is reasonable to believe that this trend of relaxed restriction will continue, with the success of vaccinations and falling of daily cases and with data suggesting roadside mobility is at 95% and 50% of people are leaving home for work, this summer poses a strong opportunity to utilise OOH.

We recommend using OOH formats that have a high frequency and high dwell time. These formats include train car panels, escalator panels, and larger 6 and 48 sheets around the stations. Train and underground advertising have shown to be cost effective for direct response advertisers and with the availability across the transport network, this provides opportunities to negotiate low-cost short-term deals.

These deals also provide an opportunity to test OOH, without as high of a spend commitment.

Pre COVID, it was possible to run across the underground with a CPT of 85p – while impacts may be lower, this will enable us to negotiate a lower cost and see similar cost efficiencies.

Away from traditional public transport, taxis are a strong high frequency alternative to target cities. The nature of the business of taxis is they are required to go where there are people, or else make no money.

At ARM, we continue to monitor the OOH market, working closely with media owners to ensure the best value for our clients, taking advantage of the current situation. With impacts on the rise, now is the time to start planning!

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