FEATURED IN IG DOOH: The New Normal in Outdoor Advertising

9 April 2020 by Benjamin Wey, CEO and Co-Founder at Adtrac

Article featured in IG DOOH (in German)

The marketing industry, as a service provider to the national economy, is particularly affected by the travel restrictions, social distancing orders and short-time work currently in place around the globe. An imminent recession will dramatically reduce advertising expenditure. However, becoming the catalyst of digitization, the corona crisis is also a great opportunity. Given the mobility restrictions, many traditional businesses are also discovering the importance of mobile equipment, learning how to use video conferencing effectively and no longer see working from home as an exception.

Industries that are particularly dependent on physical mobility are now facing considerable pressure to digitize or to tighten their belts. Outdoor advertising, in particular, is having to overcome some difficult hurdles. On the one hand, the installation of advertising in public places, for example on billboards, is not something that can be done from home but has to be done by people on site. On the other hand, in times of #stayathome a large part of the target audience simply cannot be reached. With everyone staying at home, will outdoor advertising even be seen at all?

So, for outdoor advertising, digitalization is no longer a necessary step in order to prepare for the distant future, but it is now mandatory to survive the next few months.

The biggest challenge here is the way data is handled. The credibility of the performance promise of outdoor advertising as the oldest advertising medium can no longer be taken for granted in times of limited mobility.

When you book a poster or digital advertising space, a certain number of audience impressions are promised. For this purpose, outdoor advertising marketers have so far only provided projected figures. In pre-corona times, this was acceptable to advertisers because it was reasonable to assume that target and effective figures would average out and no better data was available. In these extraordinary times, when the movement pattern of the population is unpredictable, static data such as average visitor numbers or the planning data of, for example, SPR+ are not relevant anymore.

Fig. 1: Here, for instance, is an example of the visitor numbers at TopCC before and after the announcement of the extraordinary situation by the Federal Council.

Particularly in times of crisis, marketers must use their budget in a targeted manner and take as few risks as possible. Blind trust as long-established practices is not enough anymore. The outdoor advertising industry can support its customers here in two ways:

  • By using existing data sources such as the Intervista Footprints panel and by showing transparently to what extent the effective figures of pedestrian frequencies deviate from the target figures. Whether the customer is then compensated with services or a refund is for the respective marketer to decide. However, transparency is important in order to maintain the trust of the advertisers.
  • The risk for customers can be significantly reduced using programmatic technologies such as smart targeting, for example, by posting an ad only under the criteria desired by the customer. This is where rapid progress is needed to make programmatic options available to advertisers.

In order to reduce the risk for advertisers, the outdoor advertising industry must be transparent and openly share what has been planned and compare it with the figures actually achieved. The technology to fulfill the aforementioned principles is available in Switzerland. Independent campaign evaluations have the additional advantage that outdoor advertising can be purchased based on performance and not just on the criterion of location. This can also offer niche providers opportunities in the marketplace and thus bring many new and attractive options into the planning process, which will strengthen the outdoor advertising market in the long term. After all, competition stimulates innovation and competitiveness, contributing to an effective business environment.

COVID-19 is therefore not just a catalyst for digitalization when it comes to operating procedures, but also for the service itself: Automated, digital processes, transparent, dynamic data and programmatic advertising can protect people while making the outdoor advertising market more attractive for advertisers.