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OOH 2021: Trends that will define growth & success

OOH leaders talk about factors like mobile integration, contextual advertising and DOOH that will lead the way for out-of-home in 2021

by Noel Dsouza
Published - Jan 13, 2021 8:50 AM Updated- Jan 13, 2021 1:08 PM

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As the world gears up for the COVID vaccine, OOH experts are on a hopeful path about economic growth in 2021 after months of inaction. Throughout 2020, the industry has been ideating and re-inventing itself, growing stronger in pDOOH and DOOH avenues. These ROI led opportunities have gained an affinity with brands (clients) and has even brought new categories onboard. There has been an increased focus on digital strategies to suit the changing landscape better and many OOH companies have made headway on inventories to adapt to the new market environment. Crystal gazing forward, leaders share that DOOH, mobile integration and contextual advertising will lead the way to a successful revenue outcome.

e4m spoke to OOH and DOOH leaders to gauge the trends that will drive growth in the industry and their expectations this year. Will there be a major change in the OOH space this 2021?

Dipankar Sanyal, CEO, Platinum Communications

Some of the long-awaited changes will gather pace in 2021. One, data will play a key role in the decision-making process of investing in OOH. Last year showed the client's belief in various third party data to arrive at decisions to spends and geographies to spend. Secondly, the unlocking process is fast unlocking all the touchpoints where Digital OOH inventory was locked up. DOOH will gain momentum in 2021 and will form a significant part of media plans. Thirdly, the static media will have to work hard backed by data and rate benefits to continue the momentum that the industry has got post the festive season. With the vaccine on the anvil and optimism in the air, OOH is likely to see an overall growth albeit from the second half of the year.

Gulab Patil, Founder, and CEO, Lemma

2021 is going to be a year focused on technological aspects like improved measurement, programmed planning and execution, and unified digital media platforms that enable multiple screens to buy from a single source. Many digital-only platforms usually with the help of an intermediary technology partner are expanding their digital media screen portfolio by including DOOH screens as a part of their offering as the emphasis on building omnichannel presence is at its peak.


Brands and advertisers will rely on technologically advanced platforms that help them measure and serve DOOH campaigns. These platforms will be aligned with their digital campaigns, subsequently supercharging the overall media outcome.


The OOH ecosystem is likely to transform into a powerful performance marketing channel that drives both direct and digital conversion. Digital screens and programmatic DOOH approach would be the key drivers of growth in the upcoming year making a significant contribution to OOH media spends. The union of DOOH with mainstream digital media would also drive in some growth as well. 

Rahul BiswasGroup CMO, EMV 

OOH will see disruption by DOOH in the next 5 years in India starting from 2021. With global OOH agencies shifting focus to DOOH, Indian OOH ecosystem will depend on the rapid growth of DOOH for it to increase in its % share in the complete media pie. Digital consumption has changed the content consumption pattern drastically over the years and more so during this pandemic which is also being felt by TV and Cinema with the rise of OTT. With a lower than a goldfish attention span i.e. 8.5 seconds in a multi-screen environment and a heads-down dwelling generation, DOOH is the only form of medium that's making them look up for a change. Backed by interesting eye-catching relevant content DOOH is making heads turn and grabbing eyeballs.

With brands being more cautious as to how they are spending their marketing budgets and questions on ROI becoming stronger. Cost-effectiveness and accountability of DOOH will be helping this cause. Trends that will be prominent this year are Audience-Based Media Buying, Programmatic Media Buying, Data backed ROI Post Campaign Evaluation and Offline Online handshaking.


Aman Nanda, Chief Strategy Officer, Times OOH
With the positive developments on the vaccine front, we see consumer confidence returning to normal. Ever since travel restrictions have been eased, this has given OOH a boost.

COVID has given the industry time to re-evaluate its offerings and realign with the new world order. The learnings in this space of one year have been more than we have ever learnt before. We all know the media and advertising sector has taken a significant hit, including OOH, but the way the industry has adapted and responded will change the way for the future. We at Times OOH have also adapted with the times and aligning our media to suit client needs and objectives. We work closely in tandem with our partners, the authorities to understand the new paradigms and innovating to introduce new opportunities.

It could be easy to set aside in 2020 as a ‘gap year’ for OOH advertising in our minds. However, COVID-19 has fundamentally redesigned both business and consumer behaviour massively—and that a lot of these shifts will manifest themselves in out-of-home advertising in this year ahead.

Nanda named trends that will help the industry grow:

OOH Advertising Will Rebound
Post-lockdown, people have started moving out of their house and the more people go outside, the more opportunities brands will have to engage with them via OOH advertising formats. And engaging with the physical world again will take on an entirely new meaning for some time. So, brands should plan for this now.

Consistent Increase in Digital Outdoor Advertising
DOOH is the future and with the growth of digital and technology in this space, it will lead to accountable and engaging communication with the consumer in a relaxed mind frame. It provides flexibility to add data feeds, video and developing programmatic capabilities to the mix, and digital out-of-home is an unbeatable offering, it has an immense technological opportunity to scale up. Digital outdoor advertising contributes to almost 30% of OOH revenues worldwide. Under these circumstances, advertisers who continue to reinvent themselves will likely succeed in subsequent years.

Brands to Embrace the Power of Contextual Storytelling
The storytelling improves retention and helps consumers recall events. The brand that has a compelling story to relate to its context is likely to make an impact subconsciously if the ad is narrated distinctly. We foresee, this storytelling trend will be witnessed a lot more in 2021. Using this strategy, outdoor advertising can embrace the concept by designing ads that only tells a part of the story, which makes the audience wait for the next ad in the storyline.

Tech Integration, Forging Growth in Advertising Opportunities
Innovations in technology have broadened the horizon and possibilities of placements of outdoor advertisements, particularly – from AR, VR, Mixed Reality, Gesture motion sensors, Beacon/RFID, mobile-retargeting for hyper-targeting to pDOOH, IoT, cloud computing and real-time feed integration in digital screens for advertisements. Advertisers have started consuming such technologies well in busy public places such as airports and metros with high dwell time waiting areas. Nonetheless, billboards and Street furniture (BQS) advertising continues to be the best-sought option to project advertisements for storytelling, brand recall, and location-specific advertisement.

Mobile Integration in Outdoor Advertising
Outdoor marketing is all about enhancing the user experience. To increase customer interaction, the integration of mobile and outdoor advertisements is the best option. The use of technology helps potential customers interact with advertisements and share valuable data/feedback in real-time about the campaign. The feedback from the customer helps provide a more customized user experience. The use of a Geo-fencing and beacon are also becoming usual because it enables advertisements to factually jump inside the customer’s phone.

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