Covid-19 has made the Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) platform central in the marketplace, as its formats allow advertisers to be fluid with when, where and how impressions are delivered. This is highly valuable right now and for the holidays, as consumers adopt a hybrid mode of digital and physical shopping and decide what they will do when preparing to shop in the last few months of 2020.

I recently spoke with Norm Chait, the Director of Out-of-Home (OOH) Products, at Ubimo, a Quotient Company, to discuss several timely components of the OOH industry and how brands can benefit from using the medium during the holidays and beyond. Norm has spent nearly two decades in the OOH space, the majority of them as an executive at MediaVest/Spark Foundry before crossing over to adtech a little more than a year ago. He has been a witness and driver of the evolution of OOH within the media mix throughout that time.

Our conversation touches upon how DOOH can be a responsive solution for retailers in this unpredictable landscape, how programmatic DOOH (PDOOH) can help retailers generate revenue even during a crisis and how brands should be thinking about including the medium in their omnichannel campaign strategies. As recent research we’ve done at Prosper Insights & Analytics indicates some of the vast changes in consumer shopping habits, we’re excited to chat with Norm about how OOH fits into the mix.

Continue reading to discover more about those insights and how to keep up with shoppers with all forms of OOH.

Gary Drenik: Thanks for joining me Norm. You’re here to talk to us about OOH and its impact for retailers right now. With Prosper Insight’s recent research showing 60.1% of shoppers over the age of 18 planning to purchase their holiday gifts online this year, why is OOH an important part of the marketing mix even when less people are headed outside because of the pandemic?

Norm Chait: It’s important for retailers and brands alike to meet consumers where they are, both mentally and physically. While people continue to limit movement in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19, a study we conducted found that 90.4% of consumers are still leaving their homes at least once a week. When they are leaving their houses, consumers are making very purposeful trips—primarily to grocery, convenience stores, drug stores, etc. These trips are purposeful because they already know what they want, where they’re going and in what order they are visiting their destinations. Because of this, retailers can run smart DOOH ad campaigns by using specific audience data to naturally connect with shoppers along their purposeful path while stocking up or purchasing for their families is top of mind. As a result, brands are able to insert themselves into a consumer’s line of sight as they’re pondering any last-minute additions or alternatives to their typical product purchases.

Drenik: It sounds like OOH can certainly offer a lot of opportunity for brands to be top of mind along these consumers’ journeys. But what about retailers themselves? How can they benefit from using OOH?

Chait: The opportunity for brands to get in front of high-intent consumers is massive. By adding indoor OOH assets, groceries can sell that inventory, which can impact consumer decision-making in the moment of consideration, so both the brands on their shelves and consumers can benefit.

Consumers are looking all around them to see what deals they will have for this first-of-its-kind and unprecedented holiday season, and those indoor assets that are already in the midst of the shopping environment will be a crucial point of persuasion. Results from Ubimo’s own survey show that of the 65.6% of consumers who notice OOH ads, 60.4% are likely to purchase a product on their shopping trip after seeing one. That’s a great finding for retailers promoting their business and driving traffic during the holidays, as they can put themselves into the path of persuasion. Integrating your deals into your OOH campaign is one approach we predict will be beneficial this holiday season, as 39.5% of shoppers say they would be influenced by a coupon when determining where to buy (with women more influenced by coupons, at 44.7%).

Drenik: It sounds like OOH has a lot to offer. But isn’t it really just for brand awareness and other top-of- funnel KPIs?

Chait: In the past, OOH’s role has been more of an upper funnel medium that’s geared toward generating brand awareness and equity building—but even brand awareness is very important right now. If you stay top of mind and create that need among consumers, you could see a quick sales boost in-store now or even once restrictions are lifted. Prosper Insights’ data indicates that 39.6% of consumers will feel comfortable shopping in stores immediately, once given the green light by their local government. That’s a great sign that the importance of physical retail is far from fading.

In addition, the format now has digital capabilities in inventory as well as programmatic delivery. DOOH provides this new ability to get closer to the moment of purchase decision, and we can leverage technology for flexibility and DOOH measurement that did not exist beforehand—changing the way we can think about it as a whole. Plus, DOOH can be used in conjunction with other types of digital media, like mobile or audio, which takes the possibility of down-funnel engagement with OOH even further.

Drenik: Can you expand a little and explain how channels like mobile, audio and OOH can work in tandem with each other?

Chait: Sure. So if you think back, audio and OOH were initial best partners in advertising. You would be cruising along the freeway, listening to the radio, and you’d hear a commercial. Not too much later, you might pass a billboard for the same product or service. It’s all about continuing the conversation and using multiple touchpoints to elevate awareness. More recently, these two media are experiencing a revitalization, as DOOH and digital audio create new ways for them to work together. Both digital audio and DOOH have made massive amounts of headway over the past several years, surfacing improvements in measurement and attribution, as well as targeting.

Mobile and DOOH work together in much of the same way, and in conjunction with digital audio, too, for the true omnichannel marketer. Capabilities like geo-fencing have been around for some time and can help with targeting and measurement across these channels. Meanwhile, the re-emergence of QR codes has helped propel cross-platform advertising and create cohesive campaigns that have the potential to drive down-funnel engagement. Now, capabilities exist to sequence ads and cap the frequency of ads across media, so these channels can work together, instead of against each other.

Drenik: How would you prove the value of OOH advertising to someone who may not be as familiar with all of this?

Chait: Historically, this inability to measure success was the reason OOH was left out of omnichannel advertising plans. Fast forward to today; we can now measure all the KPIs that advertisers expect from a campaign: brand awareness, store visitation and attributable sales. This unique solution is possible through the use of the newest technologies as well as first and third-party data, like the data that Ubimo and our parent company Quotient can provide together.

Also, despite thoughts toward the contrary, OOH has experienced growth in impact in just the past year. During the early phase of the Covid-19 period (March-April) we found that six out of 10 grocery store shoppers were exposed to OOH advertising on their way to the store. Now, we’ve found that OOH is reaching eight out of 10 customers (May-July). OOH becomes even more valuable and impactful when combined with the right solutions, as it brings measurement to behavior that would otherwise be a void for brands and agencies that are trying to decipher what is changing people’s minds when they’re not at home or their audience segment’s typical path when they leave their homes.

To put a visual against this, we at Ubimo created a dashboard that can show advertisers the week-over-week changes in OOH movement as shoppers make trips to specific locations like the pharmacy, grocery stores, convenience stores and more. This dashboard has allowed us to track recovery and areas of opportunity, demonstrating to clients, advertisers and potential investors in OOH the crucial information they can draw from the medium to better indicate where they should be heading next with their marketing budget.

Drenik: Thanks so much, Norm, for taking me through the intricacies of OOH. I’ll be interested to see how consumer habits continue shifting over the holidays and ways in which brands will shift to meet those needs with the platform.

To stay ahead of the post-pandemic consumer, Prosper’s US Signals series of datasets include leading indicators and advanced predictive analytics covering forward looking consumer spending plans, behaviors and economic outlook:

To read my previous Forbes articles on changing consumer behavior, predictive analytics, machine learning, data privacy and more, please click here.

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