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Covid puts DOOH in the spotlight: How can brands make the most of it?

DOOH experts share how brands can amplify the reach and visibility of their campaign with modern digital signage solutions

by Noel Dsouza
Published - Nov 5, 2020 8:35 AM  |  7 min read

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The cornonavirus pandemic has accelerated the digital shift in the Out Of Home (OOH) sector. With digital ordering, drive-ins, digital payments becoming the new normal, most spaces have adopted digital inventories. Also, restaurants have been told to put up digital screens displaying social guidelines. The changed scenario has given brands an increased opportunity to connect with their consumers. With the rise in the use of DOOH screens in a closed environment space, brands can track and garner consumer data and footfalls of that particular area. This will give them an opportunity to serve consumers more targeted, personalized and customized campaign messages. Also, brands that want to amplify their visibility will have to be looking at developing their relationships with consumers by integrating mobile marketing as a channel.

e4m spoke to DOOH leaders to understand how brands can maximize the power of DOOH in a post-lockdown environment and how the OOH industry is ensuring that there are more digitally optimized atmospheres for brands to avail.

DOOH’s ability to serve the right message

According to Gautam Bhirani, MD, Eyetalk Media Ventures, the digital shift will create new and bigger opportunities for brands in the coming future.“With Covid-19, advertising had taken a backseat for some time. But the pandemic has accelerated the digital shift where various ecosystems are adopting new technologies and modern digital signage solutions keeping customer experience and safety in mind. The growth in DOOH inventories because of this shift will create new and bigger opportunities for brands in the coming future,” opines Bhirani.

Eyetalk Media Ventures is a prominent player when it comes to ambient DOOH inventories in the F&B and corporate space.

Gulab Patil, Founder & CEO, Lemma, believes that the need for highly relevant messages has increased manifold in the recent times as the OOH audience availability in many parts of the country remains limited, scattered and infrequent because of the pandemic and the lockdown.

“As advertisers, it becomes imperative to make each exposure count and make the most of the ad spends. This can be done by incorporating factors like creative flexibility, audience data and consumer sentiments, all stitched together to ensure pertinent reach across selected clusters,” he says.

Upinder Singh, Project Director, Edge1 Outdoor Media Management Software, has seen a month-on-month growth post lockdown. He shares “With every phase of opening up, there has been a positive impact on outdoor advertising. Brands have no time to waste, they need to understand the changes that are happening in the post-Covid market scenario as quickly as possible and with greater frequency.”

As brands reinvigorate DOOH messaging, they will also need to prepare for the fast-changing circumstances. Remarks Singh, “More than ever, brands need to target and message according to what's happening on the ground in near real-time. Even in states where car and foot traffic is up, the overall trends fluctuate week to week with the authorites changing rules.”

Role of footfall and mobility data

“Footfall and mobility data has transpired into default components of OOH planning today. Any plan built otherwise will certainly fail to attain the desired output. Hence using tools that provide data beyond demographics is something that needs to be put into practice and teams across brand and agencies need to be trained on how to use these to help them plan better for optimal plan output,” states Patil.

During the lockdown, consumers have spent most of their time on mobile phones, and so, by using mobile data with DOOH, aggregated and anonymized, brands can now plan more efficiently and show attribution for their campaigns that are both contextually relevant and timely.

Singh shares, “When we think about DOOH and mobile together, we think about it as being an amazing activation vehicle. Now brands are looking to expand on their relationships with consumers and see location-based mobile marketing as a channel that can create deeper engagement. It’s one of the most targeted and personal mediums around.”

Talking about their approach to reach out to targeted consumers, Singh says, “At Edge1, we’re working on this equation 'Mobile+OOH= Effective ROI'. Our team of experts has developed a platform that can access mobile device data to allow geofenced targeting that delivers the right exposures to devices coordinated with out-of-home screens. The measurement then tells buyers and planners how those exposures fit within the campaign, making them more effective as they amplify and enhance messaging rather than risking mismatching creative or inappropriate frequencies.”

Bhirani adds, “The pandemic has not only changed consumer behaviour but has also put DOOH in the spotlight, making it a key societal communication channel. The on-the-move consumer today is more receptive to communication and DOOH is helping businesses connect better with its customers and at the same time deliver safety-hygiene guidelines.”

The power of DOOH in a post-lockdown environment

Bhirani, sharing an exciting business approach that resonates with the current pandemic environment and the results received, says, “Looking at the post-pandemic world and current market situation, we shifted our focus on providing technology and infrastructure support to businesses to help them combat this crisis. With the introduction of our SaaS-based services, we have been able to bag a few major contracts and are currently in deployment stage through which our DOOH assets are estimated to be seen in another 1000+ locations across the country. The inventory will be available for advertising once things return to a level of normalcy and Covid discount is not the parameter for media selection.”

Sharing his viewpoints, Patil says, “The benefits offered by DOOH have always been ahead of its times and continues to remain so even in the given situation. Brands at any point will certainly experience multi-fold advantages, right from dynamic ad rendering, data enriched ad serving, real-time reporting to analytics and attribution. The advantage, I believe, is more in terms of the increased audience awareness of messages displayed during the pandemic. Brands can make the most of this by being innovative to garner maximum eyeballs while being backed by data, technology and improved screen quality.”

OOH is a place consumers want to spend most of their time. So, as soon as the complete restrictions are lifted, it will be ready to take the lead by inspiring people to get back out there, innovate, rebuild and adapt.

Rishabh Mehta, Founder & CEO, LOCAD, says, "We at LOCAD are proud to be helping media owners tech up in a cost-efficient manner, which in turn not only gives them new real-time data sets but also helps to monetize their assets in a much higher and better way. One such solution which we have rolled out in India and outside is the Smart cam analytics integrated with our programmatic DOOH platform. With live data points from around the screen, we now help advertisers really get the best value for money. Advertisers can now get a detailed understanding of each location and the kind of targeting and reach that they can expect for their campaigns."

Mehta adds, "Such data sets, when coupled with multiple other data points in terms of POI, mobile data and audience profile segmentation around the location, give advertisers a new way to look at targeting consumers. Advertisers can now literally have an open RO for their campaigns where they spend every rupee based on their pre-defined campaign objectives. They can spend money only when ads are delivered to the right audience at the right time and this can be measured with real-time data. This, we believe, will change the way DOOH is looked at. Off course a lot of push is required from all stakeholders to really make them understand the importance and value of such technologies."

Singh adds, “Brands are increasingly looking at new channels to grow brand awareness, and inspire consumers to take action. DOOH screens in malls and restaurants will help them do this with much more visibility, creativity, and on a larger scale. DOOH inventories will be crucial in this new normal as audiences will opt for more contactless dining experiences in restaurants. It would be a great opportunity for brands to reach audiences in a captive environment and personalized content.”

“Like, in most of the restaurants, the staff is being trained to safely handle customers by following hygiene routines being promoted by the government, but it will be great if these safety measures are highlighted on the DOOH screens as then, the audiences will be more cautious,” he adds.

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