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Now Near Next – The Latest View from OOH

Colum Harmon, marketing director, PML Group, with this week’s view from OOH.

Two revealing pieces of research conducted by the team at PML Group in partnership with Ipsos MRBI form the basis of this week’s Now Near Next. Trended information from our Poster Impact programme reveals how the pandemic has done nothing to suppress the effectiveness of OOH campaigns. Going Local, a brand-new study, shines a light on consumers relationship with their locality and OOH’s role locally. We also look at the implications for OOH as the country gets set to return to Level 3 restrictions, from a mobility and retail point of view.

Unrestricted: How COVID has failed to Suppress OOH Effectiveness

This week we are sharing analysis of aggregated research results of more than 400 OOH campaigns that have been active during some form of restriction associated with the pandemic since March 2020.  Across all key metrics, including recall, relevance, understanding and call to action, campaigns have performed better in 2020 than in the same period 2019. All campaigns were researched as part of our Poster Impact programme, which includes more than 1,000 campaigns each year.

Earlier in the year we reported findings from research conducted on our behalf by Ipsos MRBI which found that Dubliners felt OOH advertising would be one of the most effective channels in grabbing their attention in the coming six months. And so, it has proven to be.

Recall levels across all main formats such as billboards, buses and 6 Sheets has increased on 2019. Average recall for these formats is indexing between 107 and 112 versus last year. Similarly, when looking at environments it is the same story – improved recall across retail, roadside and transport environments. All in all, average recall is indexing at 106 across all formats and environments, versus a base of 100 for the same period 2019.

To some, this may seem counterintuitive. So, why have these metrics uniformly improved?  Again, we look to research and data for the answers. A new research study called Going Local, commissioned by PML Group and carried out independently by Ipsos MRBI gives fresh insights into consumers’ relationships with their locality and the role OOH advertising is playing in that context.

72% of adults agree that they pay more attention to what is happening in their local area these days, rising to 84% among 45-54 year olds. People are tuned in and attentive to their surroundings now, perhaps more so than any point in recent years. For instance, 71% of females and 76% of those living in South County Dublin say they are more likely to notice OOH posters and screens as they go about their local area these days. More than 6 in 10 (64%) believe Outdoor ads are a part of the everyday fabric of a local area.

But perhaps most significantly for brands is the contention among half the respondents that they feel more connected with brands that use Outdoor advertising these days, rising to 59% of 35-44 year olds.

As location marketing experts, we have needed to be more agile than ever this year in how we plan OOH campaigns. We have monitored mobility data closely, reacted to changing government restrictions in terms of retail and hospitality and adjusted our planning accordingly. We have factored changing audience behaviour into our clients plans to make OOH as effective as ever. The ongoing Poster Impact findings prove buses are as effective an advertising channel as they wind their way through our towns and villages as they are in our city centres. Classic billboards, digital screens and bus shelters are shown to grab attention as much in Dublin 11 and 12 as Dublin 1 and 2. As we enter 2021 and much anticipated vaccines lead to further changes in audience movement and behaviour these and future learnings, and their implications, will continue to make OOH a vital channel for brands.

Contact any of the PML Group for a full deck of findings from Going Local.

 Levelling Down

It looks like we will be moving to Level 3 from next week. Although some details have to be ironed out particularly around hospitality the closest benchmark we have is the previous period of national Level 3 which ran from Wed 7th Oct – Wed 20th Oct.

Apple’s Mobility Trends Reports derived from anonymized Apple Maps data requests demonstrate how people are changing their travel habits through reporting change in routing requests since 13 January 2020. Here are the average national daily index figures from national Level 3 in October and so far in Level 5 and the differences between the two.

So all modes of transportation were higher in Level 3 than they have been during Level 5 by between 36% and 63%.

Dublin Auto Mobility at 79% of Pre-Covid

Locomizer mobility data is based on analysis of mobile phone location data via anonymised app reporting. Latest figures (w/e 22th November) show that the auto mobility level in ROI, which is calculated though a combination of mobile users, time, and signals, is at 66% of where it was pre-COVID-19 recorded at the end of February.

Dublin continues to perform above average at 79% (+5%), while Limerick and Galway cities also showed notable weekly gains of 5% and 10% to 60% and 65% respectively.

The chart below shows the weekly mobility index from the start of March to date, showcasing the effect of the latest restrictions, and also how this compares to mobility during the periods of the pandemic.

OOH most trusted and relevant ad medium in US

The currency of trust in media channels has come more and more into focus in recent times. Consumers have consistently regarded OOH advertising as trustworthy and new research from the US, published this week, speaks to this fact. Conducted by Vistar Media and MFour, the study shows that respondents view OOH ads as more trustworthy and relevant than ads on other platforms. 58% of the sample indicated that they are very likely to believe messaging in OOH advertisements, followed by TV (55%) and social media (44%). A similar study in summer 2019 found 50% of consumers very likely to believe messaging on OOH – so a significant increase this year.  “What we are seeing are consumers who are still cognizant of the need to be safe, but are delighted to be outside when they can,” said Eugenie Chen, VP of Data and Analytics at Vistar Media. “That positivity and general enjoyment of being out of their home is motivating them to be very receptive to ads that they are seeing outside, as compared to ads that they associate with being homebound.” The study was conducted between October 28th and November 5th among 2,000 respondents.

In June 2019, our own iQ research among Dubliners found that 55% of respondents believed that advertising on billboards made a brand more trustworthy.

Phasing Down

With Ireland set to emerge from Level 5 restrictions, it is foreseen that there will be a phased exit from next Tuesday onwards to reopen elements of social and economic life. While some of the finer details are still to be confirmed, the roll back to Level 3 will see the reopening of many outlets and environments in December which are summarised below.

Non-essential retail is set to reopen from next week allowing consumers to go about their Christmas shopping. In an important few weeks for retailers, there have been calls from the sector to open for extended hours to cope with demand from Christmas shoppers.

Cinemas, hairdressers, gyms, museums and galleries are also set to reopen in the first phase of the staggered exit from Level 5 next week.

The 5km travel limit is one of the restrictions that looks set to be lifted on December 1st, allowing people to travel within their own county. While public transport capacity will increase to 50% from the 25% limit currently in place. Inter-county travel is expected later in December.

The hospitality sector such as gastro pubs and restaurants may have to wait a little longer and are expected to reopen the following week. Delivery and takeaway services have remained throughout Level 5 lockdown.

As we have seen with previous easings of restrictions, pent up demand is an inevitable part of returning to normal activities. An all-round busy period in the lead up to Christmas, the volume of people returning and reengaging with these environments and locations will only increase and intensify throughout December.

And Finally….

For the hotly anticipated launch of the PS5 in the UK, Sony staged a colourful takeover of Oxford Circus tube station in London. The marketing stunt saw the Tube station rebranded with the PlayStation’s iconic shapes, augmenting the Underground’s signature roundels. Station interiors were rebranded too, with the Bakerloo, Victoria and Central line platforms decorated with walls and signage reflecting the playful campaign. Several stations were also renamed after high profile titles set to launch on the PS5, while a global light installation took over the Piccadilly Lights.

Not only does the innovative campaign push the boundaries of creativity and activations but demonstrates OOH’s ability to generate considerable PR coverage and online conversations that extended the visibility of the campaign far beyond its geographical reach to a much broader audience at a time when much of England is in lockdown.

A recent Mediatel webinar on The Future of Media also pointed to OOH’s ability to amplify messages through social media by highlighting research from Nielsen that shows one in four billboards have been Instagrammed.

Watch a video on the activation here.