With some lockdown restrictions set to be lifted from next Monday, Niamh Manning of PML Group continues our series of reports on what brands and advertisers need to know as the country emerges from the next few phases.
Evidence is emerging all the time as to how Covid-19 will affect the movement of people in the Now, the Near and the Next and below we have details on the latest audience mobility data from sources including Locomizer, Apple and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
At PML Group, we are using multiple sources of mobility data to track behavioural changes in audience movement as the population adapts to their circumstances. Our work with Locomizer location data supports what others such as Google’s mobility report have been indicating – increasing audience movement over the past two weeks. Since the lockdown started in March, we have seen a major shift from people moving around city centres (and key places of work) to people moving around more suburban areas. This was a major temporary shift in behaviour although some elements remain similar to pre-pandemic times e.g. spikes of more movement in general on the weekend and there is a notable rebalancing since restrictions have begun to be relaxed. The effect COVID-19 is having on our collective movements in the OOH space is that almost everything we are doing is for the time being hyperlocal to where we live. In saying that there is increasing evidence of a trend towards more increased mobility in the past week and we expect this to increase as we enter phase one of the government roadmap for opening up society and the economy on Monday.
These Locomizer insights, generated by anonymised mobile app data, enables us both to trend movement over time nationally and to identify hotspots of movement down to street level. In addition, our ability within our Pinpoint mapping platform, to overlay this with census data, relevant points of interest and OOH advertising locations, enables us to both target and measure movement in and around retail outlets and other amenities as they reopen in step with the roadmap. The visualised hotspot timelines below bring to life movement patterns by foot and motor over the course of a recent ten day period.
This week, TII’s daily snapshot of car traffic during the peak morning travel hours continues the narrative that from Tuesday 21st April, an upward trend in car traffic volumes became apparent. Analysis of data comparing counts on Thursday 14th May with the previous three weeks shows that traffic volumes have increased by more than 21 per cent on average on 10 routes into the State’s main towns and cities since some restrictions on movement were lifted.
Google’s Mobility Reports reinforces the general though lessening trend towards suburban movement over the last 6 weeks. It shows how visits and length of stay at different places or environments change compared to a baseline. The baseline is the median value, for the corresponding day of the week, during the 5-week period Jan 3–Feb 6, 2020. Data for Cork for example shows positive percentages for presence in both parks and public gardens, and in place of residence.
The changes in audience behaviour we referenced in earlier Now, Near, Next releases was reflected in data released this week by bike sharing supplier, BleeperBike. April saw a 258% increase in new user registrations for the scheme and a whopping 383% increase in bike rides in the Fingal region of Dublin. Clear evidence of the exercise regimes being undertaken in suburban areas recently. But is it a sign of things to come? Dublin’s College Green is set to be pedestrianised – and cars restricted throughout the city – under plans to reopen the city centre as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Action is also being taken to increase space and accommodate social distancing for pedestrians on the streets and a major expansion of temporary cycle lanes is well underway in the city centre. In the UK, steps are being taken to trial electric scooters on roads as early as next month, bringing forward plans by a year to make them legal.
Once implemented, it’s hard to see measures like these being reversed in the future and that would be a welcome development on many fronts. From an OOH media point of view, it would create so many new opportunities to present contextually relevant, digitally delivered advertising messages to a faster moving, more fluid audience.
1,500 Retailers Reopen for Business
Next week sees us enter phase one of the roadmap to reopen our economy and society and retail will be one of the areas to see significant change, with an estimated 1,500 retailers open for businesses again. Among the initial wave reopening will be garden centres, DIY outlets, electrical retailers and car sales and servicing outlets. McDonald’s will also reopen six Dublin restaurants for Drive-Thru service from May 20th and they plan to reopen all Irish Drive-Thrus by early June. Our Pinpoint map below shows almost 300 garden centres and DIY outlets plotted, and these can be overlaid with OOH panels and the latest audience data mobility data to give brands the opportunity to engage the expanding OOH audience. Posting on the vast majority of classic OOH sites also resumes for cycle 11 next week.
More to Malls
Supermarkets have continued to draw massive audiences to major shopping malls throughout the Covid crisis. We have all seen the long, socially distanced queues snaking through the concourses of venues such as Swords Pavilions and Blanchardstown Centre. These make for captive audiences for the high quality dPod and iVision screens. But what may go unnoticed is the volume of other retail activity open in the malls – pharmacies, opticians, phone providers to name a few. For example, in Nutgrove, Omni Park and Blanchardstown Centre, twenty or more units are open for business offering a range of essential services and more will open next week.
With the Government releasing its Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business, amárach asked a representative sample of 1,600 adults on May 1st to tell them which venues or destinations they would like to open first, and whether they would feel comfortable or safe in them in terms of social distancing. The survey asked people to select the top 5 venues or destinations that they would like the Government to prioritise as part of the reopening roadmap. For each of the five they chose, they were then asked to say how comfortable or safe they would feel in each venue (e.g.: from a social distancing perspective) if it were to open tomorrow.
Those regarded as most important and safe are destinations that make it into the top 5 for many people, and where they would feel quite safe if they were open soon. They include DIY and garden centres, local outdoor sports facilities such as football pitches, and churches. Next week shops that are primarily outdoor and homeware, opticians, motor, bicycle & repair, office products, electrical, IT, phone sales & repair can reopen. Appropriately DIY and garden centres are ranked first for priority (appearing in 65% of top 5s) and 2nd in safety. Though considered more important by the older cohort over half of under 35s have it in their top 5.
The chart provides a visual comparison of the different outlets in terms of priority vs safety:
Overall the research is telling us that many businesses will have to work hard to convince customers that it is safe to come in; but those who do it well will reap the reward of a lot of pent up demand among Irish consumers as restrictions are eased in the weeks and months ahead.
OOH media has played an important role in the communications strategy of the government and HSE around Covid-19. New research conducted on behalf of the Department of Health shows that safe behaviours to protect from COVID-19 remains high, with 95% of people washing their hands more often, 78% coughing into their elbows, 71% disposing of used tissues immediately and 90% social distancing in queues.
The nationally representative online survey of 1,270 adults conducted today (Monday 11 May), which is conducted twice weekly, reveals that the public intend to continue with safe behaviours into the future:
- 71% intend to use sanitiser, up from 59% one month ago
- 61% intend on sitting further apart from others when outside or on public transport, up from 36% one month ago
- 34% intend on staying at home rather than going out, up from 16% one month ago
Our own research from March showed 77% of Dubliners felt OOH media was a very effective way of communicating brand marketing and public information messaging. We look forward to OOH continuing to play its part in the Now, Near and Next!