Study: 6 Consumer Habits That Will Boost OOH Impact in 2021


Consumers in large cities appear to want a break from their digital devices during the pandemic, a feeling that may allow out-of-home advertising to continue thriving in 2021.

That’s one of the findings contained in a report by the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and the Harris Poll. The study, Consumer Insights & Intent: Q1 2021, breaks down results from an online survey of 1,000 representative U.S. adults conducted Jan. 15-20.

The new data shows people, especially those who live in large cities, have become more receptive to outdoor messaging as they’re increasingly tired of looking at their smartphones. Specifically, 75% of respondents said they’re experiencing digital device fatigue.

“The research substantiates—from the consumer perspective—why Magna and others project OOH to achieve the greatest spend increase in 2021; Magna forecasts that OOH will grow 11%,” Anna Bager, OAAA president and CEO, said. “Audience fragmentation continues with OOH’s traditional competitors, while many consumers are noticing OOH more than ever before. And while digital online media will also grow, the study shows consumers are tuning out digital device ads at very high rates.”

Here are six takeaways that marketers should be aware of based on the report’s findings.

You can still reach commuters

Over the next few months, 70% of workers will be commuting at least part time; 45% will commute daily, while the other half will work from home full-time (28%) or mix working from home and commuting (26%).

The study also found an income gap in commuters: 57% of households with an income of less than $50,000 per year will commute compared to 34% of households that make more than $150,000. But 66% of the $150,000 households will commute at least part-time.

Find the local grocery store route

OOH advertisers will want to reach people on their way to buy groceries. The study found that 86% of people are visiting the grocery store and 70% are driving on the highway at least once a week. In general, 83% of people notice OOH while driving on highways, more than driving around a home town (82%) or when visiting a city or town where they don’t live (71%). 

Don’t underestimate winter impact

Cold weather isn’t deterring people from going outside and noticing billboards and other outdoor signage. In fact, there was a 5-point increase in people noticing OOH “much more” from a survey the OAAA conducted in September 2020 (14% to 19%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, OOH ads are grabbing the attention of younger people: 60% of Gen Z, 58% of millennials and 42% of Gen X said they are noticing outdoor ads more right now. 

Influence purchase decisions

Another benefit of investing in OOH this year is that it’s somewhat effective in introducing consumers to new brands and influencing their path to purchase. Overall, more than 25% of people said OOH informed them of a new brand this past year, while in larger metropolitan areas, 34% said outdoor ads pushed them to buy a product. 

“There is pent-up consumer demand and brands need to be ready to maximize opportunities when they appear,” Bager said. “OOH’s massive reach in places where consumers live, work and play will continue to help brands take full advantage of a recovering marketplace. Plus, it’s important to note that OOH can’t be skipped, turned off or blocked like ads elsewhere.”    

Embrace contactless commerce technology

Despite device fatigue, OOH combined with contactless technology offers a safe and convenient way to direct people to learn about new products on their mobile devices. 

Since the pandemic began, 43% reported they started using contactless transactions more, 31% started using QR codes more and 19% started using augmented reality more. More than four in 10 people are also interested in deals available through contactless tech, with 45% willing to use tap-to-pay transactions and 41% willing to scan QR codes. 

Provide public safety information

With no clear end in sight to the pandemic, OOH is also a useful tool in providing people with public safety messaging. More than half of respondents said they have noticed Covid-19 safety guidelines and health updates on OOH messaging, and 71% of said the messages helped them feel informed and safe. 

“The study clearly defines that consumers want brands to address the impact of Covid-19 in their ads,” Bager said. “Maximizing public health safety, through both digital and physical touchless commercial adaptations, is being appreciated and expected by many consumers.”

Credit: Ad Week

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