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Don’t ditch your ad spend, go hyperlocal!

All signs point to a struggling advertising industry as consumers stay indoors amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Before the pandemic, out-of-home had been enjoying an incredible run as revenue for the vertical rose 7% in the third quarter of 2019 to nearly $2 billion, according to the latest figures from the Out Of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA).

By their very nature, advertisers will try to reach as many people as possible, while still offering a contextually relevant consumer experience. But, as the global COVID-19 crisis plays out, it can be daunting to think about how brands can continue to reach their audience, and how to do so in a way that feels appropriate.

Particularly perplexing is trying to figure out where their audiences are right now, outside of their homes. With traffic down in every major U.S. market, it’s hard to see the incentive in taking over city centers with large-scale out-of-home messages that might not be seen.

Many people are no longer heading into work, out to events, or congregating in large numbers in city centers. Not only are they spending more time online, but they’re also out and about in their local neighborhoods a lot more. This is where the opportunity lies for brands to stay active in the public space, where people are still engaged, perhaps more than ever before.

Hyperlocal allows brands to target an audience in a highly-specific geographic location, and it’s an especially exciting way to use a combination of out-of-home and digital advertising right now for one simple reason: the traditional experience of OOH has completely changed in our current situation. With the seclusion of audiences to their homes and neighborhoods, hyperlocal offers types of OOH media like bus shelters, street furniture, transit, package inserts, kiosks, and more.

From their recent research around the impact of COVID-19 on OOH and its effects on exposure, OAAA found that foot traffic has experienced dramatic decreases compared to the same time last year in airports, restaurants, hotels, malls and more. On the flip side, both neighborhood traffic and OOH exposure have surged over the previous month.

Despite the current crisis driving people to do more online, digital advertising has not been immune to the effects that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the economy. A wave of business owners are assessing their marketing efforts, wondering if it’s the best time to run online ads.

The short answer is yes. And, as with OOH, the focus should be on hyperlocal, targeted advertising to make sure you are reaching the right audience at the right time.

Marketing budgets are often the first to be sacrificed in times of crisis, but the hard times will pass, and you will need to stay top of mind, and relevant to see your business through to the other side. Here, an omnichannel approach is vital, and your strategy should go hand in hand with messaging that is sensitive to consumer emotions.

Brands also need to think ahead, especially when it comes to what the world will look like when this is over. Some believe that post-pandemic, people are going to be outside - a lot more than they were before.

Times Square will once again be abuzz. Baseball and basketball games will attract record crowds. And while that may signal big opportunity for OOH, the truth is that people will still be on their phones, sharing and absorbing experiences outside of their homes, and looking for new ways to experience more.


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