Page 11 - AdNews Magazine Jan-Feb 2021
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                 OOH’s renewed vigour post-COVID
Outdoor media took a sudden and hard hit from the pandemic. But the rebound looks just as steep, climbing out of the trough with fresh perspective and a set of strategies.
The Australian out-of-home (OOH) market was a standout in the media landscape, growing year after year while many other media sectors were challenged by structural change. Much of this growth was driven by technology, an investment in digital, replacing static displays.
That momentum came to a halt when the pandemic arrived. In May, when overall ad spend, as recorded by the SMI (Standard Media Index), fell a record 40.4% to $345.6 million, OOH was down more than 70%.
Cost cutting followed the revenue slide. And some innovative uses of the OOH networks emerged, with critical health messages and thanks to frontline health workers and essential services such as grocery deliveries. Others used platforms to bring art to the streets.
And the outdoor industry was quick on its feet, positioning for an upswing. Helping this was the work done over the last few years on digital transformation, evolving to offer both broadcast and targeted messaging opportunities, scale and interactive capabilities, impact and flexibility.
 During the pandemic, brands had to rethink communications strategies and make sure they were saying the right thing at the right time, to the right people. The OOH industry says the ubiquity, flexibility and immediacy of digital signs offered brands opportunities to execute these strategies for more relevant and responsive campaigns.
“The significant investment by the industry into digital networks and technology of the last few years has meant that OOH has the platform from which to rebuild and recalibrate to the post-COVID world,” says Charmaine Moldrich, CEO of the Outdoor Media Association.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen brands using digital OOH in the way it works best; for targeted, engaging, and data-driven campaigns that connect to audiences with con- textual relevancy and immediacy.
“Key to this will be how brands rethink the creative advantages of classic and digital OOH to drive further down the pipeline while continuing to bring their brand messages to life in big, bold and audacious ways. This is where I think we will see an explosion in appreciation for the important role OOH can play at all stages in the marketing funnel.”
Ad industry analyst Steve Allen, now at independent agency Pearman as director of strategy and research, describes the outdoor experience as a year of hell, with foot and car traffic falling massively during lockdowns.
He expects year-on-year growth for OOH to start again by around April. “Whilst the tra- jectory will continue upward, outdoor will not likely be back to 2019 revenue levels until 2022,” he says.
At MediaCom, Nick Thomas, head of marketplace, and Ben Whall, programmatic director, say OOH initially looked all doom and gloom.
“However, that doesn’t represent the full story,” they say. There were some green shoots, including huge demand for retail and petrol pumps never closed. | January/February2021 11

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