Consumer Research Shows Heightened Receptivity To Out Of Home Messaging, Especially In Big Urban Areas

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OAAA & Harris Poll Data Indicates that Increases in Commuting, Rise in Use of Contactless Technologies, Interest in Outdoor Dining/Activities & More Enhance the Impact of OOH Advertising

Increased appetites for outdoor and shared experiences are leading consumers to: hit the highways and seek out of home activities, notice their surroundings with fresh eyes, take comfort in public safety messaging, and embrace new contactless technology. At the same time, digital device burn out is rising, with 75 percent of respondents stating that excessive  time on devices is causing them to tune out digital device ads—a +7 points increase since September. These findings – from “Consumer Insights & Intent: Q1 2021,” a research report from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the national trade association for the entire out of home (OOH) and DOOH media ecosystem, and conducted by The Harris Poll – point to strong potential for OOH to take on new potency with consumers in the coming months.

Those in major urban centers are especially prone to be engaged with and influenced by out of home marketing. Over half (55%) of consumers who live in big cities (1M+ population) reported that they are noticing more OOH messaging and signage today, in comparison to 41 percent in the general population saying the same. In addition, over a third (34%) of big city dwellers say that they are being influenced by OOH in their purchasing decision.

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Moreover, consumers are noticing OOH most while driving right now – 83 percent on highways and 82 percent driving locally around their city or town. Heightening the opportunity for exposure, nearly three-quarters (72%) of workers expect to commute to their jobs at least part of the time in the next few months. Once the pandemic subsides, over half (56%) of those in big urban markets expect to primarily commute by car, while 40 percent expect that they will be taking mass transit, such as subways, light rail, or buses. Those in less dense urban areas (<1M population) will be more likely to continue to drive a car to get to the workplace post-COVID (73%).

The pandemic has also raised interest in using new technologies that allow for “touch free” experiences. A number of respondents (43%) report that contactless tap-to-pay apps have been a go-to since the crisis began. Nearly a third (31%) say the same about QR codes. Millennials and those in big cities are especially apt to use these two technologies. Over 40 percent of respondents said that they would be interested in learning about special sales or deals available through both. When it comes to augmented reality (AR), Gen Z and Millennials, as well as people in heavily populated urban areas, are most likely to partake, with 28 percent overall open to receiving messages about sales and deals through AR.

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Other notable findings include:

  • Consumers (particularly Gen Z and Millennials) report noticing OOH “much more,” showing a 5% increase in interest since last September. The messages are not lost on the general adult population either; about one-quarter of the general public report learning of a new brands or businesses through OOH.
  • Not surprisingly, the combination of pandemic and current events has increased interest in public health and security messages. 71% of consumers say they have been comforted and informed by OOH that focuses on public safety measures.
  • Meantime, 82% Gen Z respondents indicated a longing for outdoor dining options, and 78% of Millennials are seeking safe outdoor activities.

“We have a powerful opportunity in the coming months to capture the heart and imagination of people who are looking at their surroundings and out of home marketing with more awareness and appreciation,” said Anna Bager, President and CEO, OAAA. “The bottom line is that OOH advertising will have a growing role to play in consumers’ lives, when it comes to learning about products, services, public safety, and more.”

“People are eager to make up for lost time,” said John Gerzema, CEO, The Harris Poll. “They’re looking to get back out into the world with a vengeance. Brands should meet consumers where they are, which will be anywhere but at home on Zoom.”

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