The future of Out of Home advertising

Becky Ford

The future of Out of Home (OOH) advertising is good as consumer patterns adapt to life under coronavirus.


When Boris told the nation to stay at home, the world of OOH advertising underwent huge change. Life looked very different for most of us.


Our homes, green spaces and supermarkets became the new norm, and offices and the commute became almost redundant. People change in a pandemic, their behaviours shift and their appetite for media consumption changes.


OOH is no doubt key to building and retaining brand awareness, acting as a premium platform to advertise goods. ‘Lockdown’ meant challenging times for OOH contractors, as while poster sites were used to display government messages nationwide, advertising sales slumped.


Since the easing of lockdown, patterns are changing. Consumers are now more eager to return to banned environments and are therefore more receptive to OOH as they travel with fewer restrictions.


Advertisers have been employing clever ‘Welcome Back’ messaging and it is hoped that advertisers taking the plunge and spending through more turbulent times will reap the rewards and see an uplift in brand awareness.


In this country, research company IPSOS has produced information on peoples’ new enforced behaviours. It would suggest brands need to ensure that their messaging can be seen as supportive in light of this new reality, without appearing like a crisis profiteer. Brands should present themselves as a source of truth, helping the consumer. The brands that respond well will be rewarded with a more committed and loyal fan base.


The return to the tube network has been gradual but confidence is growing. Since late July the number of tube travellers has seen a week-on-week rise of 10%. To ease anxiety, mask wearing is compulsory, hand sanitisers are available at every station and social distancing is encouraged.


Pre-lockdown, the most busy London tube stops were Victoria, Oxford Circus, Waterloo and other key commuter stations. This changed in lockdown, with Stratford now the busiest station, perhaps reflecting where key workers live. Now, with the easing of lockdown, the previously high-commuter-footfall stations are becoming more popular again.


The numbers of train users is still low though, and with the prospect of a second lockdown – and maybe more – very much on the cards, things may revert back.


As expected, the number of drivers on the road has increased and are at higher numbers than pre lockdown. Bus journeys are up and cycle hire in London has increased by 19% (September 2020). The market for road side advertising is strong, but it is still challenging times ahead for the rail networks, especially if we do lockdown fully again. Station footfall needs to see an increase before the advertisers commit.