Getting back to the great outdoors

Out of Home (OOH) is one of the oldest advertising mediums in the world, and whilst much has changed over recent years with the growth of Digital OOH and innovative creative; there’s still plenty that hasn’t.

The channel was seeing continual YoY growth until the pandemic arrived in the UK. We were all told to stay at home and customer facing businesses had to close. So, what did that mean for OOH?

Naturally, being asked to stay at home resulted in a reduced number of journeys out and about, but key workers still needed to travel and people were making sure to get out for their allotted daily exercise. It was during this time that OOH went back to its roots and became a community noticeboard as well as a force for good.

Once the first lockdown eased, we quickly saw reach grow within both roadside and retail environments. Transport however was the one OOH environment that really lagged behind – which is unsurprising given that the ‘work from home’ mandate remained in place long after different sectors were able to reopen. The ONS reported that the proportion of people working from home had more than doubled in 2020!

Fast forward to a time where more restrictions were easing, vaccinations were being rolled out and Zoom (or in our case Teams) fatigue set in, we started to see public transport usage gradually increase. Currently, 56% of the working population are leaving the house to go to work each week, whether that’s to be in the office full time or work flexibly. Furthermore, a recent study from JCDecaux revealed there has been no significant shifts in rail usage pre/post pandemic (3.5 days vs. 3 days) and Network Rail have recently released figures showing that rail usage is at its highest in 18 months, with regional rail being even higher.

Adding to this trend, just last week TFL (Transport for London) reported that rush-hour trips on the Tube were up 17% week on week – the highest since March 2020! Buses also saw 39% more rush-hour passengers too compared to the week before.

We know that flexible working in some form is here to stay, but people are generally eager to return to the office – seeing friends and colleagues in person once again with human interaction and easier collaboration being cited as the most positive reasons to return. With this in mind, TFL expects audiences to reach 80% of pre-Covid levels by March 2022.

This quick recovery of audiences and confidence in OOH’s ability to shift business outcomes, has also seen advertising return with a bang with formats being booked up months in advance. We know we’re planning earlier than ever as a team when it comes to OOH to ensure we can secure the best sites to reach relevant audiences. So, whether you want to grow your brand fame or drive sales, make sure you’re briefing your media planners as early as possible so that OOH can be a consideration within the media mix.

Written by:

Suzi Kilka Media Account Director


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