OOH and Changing
Consumer Behaviour

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed consumer behaviour with more people working from home and staying indoors.

The coronavirus pandemic had a severe impact on the global out-of-home (OOH) market in 2020 and with renewed lockdowns worldwide in early 2021 the understanding of behavioural changes and consumer expectations will be key.

Lessons From 2020

With the OOH market being one of the hardest-hit media by COVID-19, a lot of lessons were learnt. Advertisers were forced to re-evaluate the way they think regarding how audiences are reached and engaged. It has also reminded advertisers to be prepared for the unexpected and to never stop adapting as many unexpected events can still occur.

Covid-19 has fundamentally changed both business and consumer behaviour which means advertisers will need to make changes to their products and services as well as their messaging. Remaining close to consumers and staying in touch is essential. The pandemic has also reiterated the importance for brands of striking the right tone with consumers.

Changing Consumer Behaviour

With people adapting to new normal consumer behaviour is rapidly evolving and this may continue as different facets of the pandemic plays out. Consumer behaviour typically evolves over years but with the pandemic, it only took a few weeks for massive changes to take place.

A change in consumer behaviour means the way companies reach their audiences change. Brands need to reconnect to audiences they have lost and need to find innovative ways of reaching new audiences by identifying how these audiences’ needs have changed.

The pandemic has changed when and how consumers shop and the amount of time they spent outdoors but also their sentiment as they respond to the crisis and try to adapt to the new normal. Consumers’ loyalty to certain brands have changed and they may place more emphasis on value or convenience and availability.

Opportunities and Challenges In 2021

OOH is expected to still play a very prominent role in terms of public information and informative messaging as the pandemic continues. Understanding and keeping abreast with behavioural change is key and keeping up with new trends.

The continued digitization of OOH and new technological capabilities means OOH will stay a preferred medium which enables advertisers to change and tailor messages in real-time. 2020 has seen a boom in creativity due to the pandemic and lockdowns worldwide and it is expected that this will continue into 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge influence on out-of-home advertising (OOH) because of curfews, quarantines, and lockdowns in many countries worldwide.

Lockdowns across the world led to an immediate drop in advertising spend as people are confined to the indoors and are requested to stay away from public places. This will continue to have an effect in 2021 but with vaccines being rolled out worldwide it is expected that consumer behaviour and advertising spend will gradually begin changing.

OOH Post Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in people thinking about everyday things they miss and took for granted. These are the things people cannot wait to have back after the coronavirus and includes getting outside as much as possible. COVID-19-related restrictions have led to less interaction with others and people are eager to regain these experiences and to get back outside.

This means OOH will almost be more relevant than ever before. New studies have shown that when people have the opportunity to be outside, they are noticing billboards and other OOH media more than before the pandemic as there is an increased appreciation for outdoor surroundings and people are also more aware of their surroundings.

OOH’s Changing Role

With OOH being more relevant than ever before, it can also do so much more for brands and advertisers. OOH is becoming smarter with new technological advances and more adaptable. this is fuelled by creativity and innovation and by delivering purpose-driven content.

OOH advertising is integrating more and more with mobile, digital channels, social media, radio, and television and helping to fuel the growth of these mediums. There has been an increase in omnichannel campaigns to reach multiple audiences for greater synergies but also to target the same audience across different channels for improved customer awareness and experience.

Adapting to A New Reality

Covid-19 has fundamentally changed both business and consumer behaviour which means advertisers will need to make changes to their products and services as well as their messaging. This new insight into audiences’ wants and needs means more personalisation than ever before.

Consumer behaviour will become more complex and more difficult to analyse and advertisers will have to carefully re-evaluate their media strategies and messaging. Brands need to stay relevant by adapting and earning their audience’s trust. Storytelling will remain one of the biggest trends for 2021 where creative and dynamic content is used to improve engagement and connect with audiences.

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising took a big hit in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns across the world.

OOH has for the past few years been the only form of traditional advertising that has maintained steady growth and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on this.

The Digital Transformation

The digital transformation of OOH was already in process when the pandemic hit. The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the medium. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies which in turn has brought about new opportunities for DOOH.

It is expected that the post-COVID-future of OOH is DOOH. The number of digital displays is increasing at a rapid pace and due to new technologies and signage solutions that also keeps customers’ safety in mind, new and bigger opportunities are becoming available for advertisers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has expedited the data-driven technological shift which brings about agility and speed and gives advertisers the ability to activate and change campaigns in real-time.

Bigger Opportunities

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new and bigger opportunities for DOOH. Programmatic advertisements in DOOH will continue allowing brands to reach audiences with personalised content and ensure brand engagement across multiple channels and devices.

Flexibility, speed, and context are some of the new bigger opportunities for DOOH with advertisers and brands being in the position to unlock new customers with data and technology. Changing consumer behaviours, like interests and preferences, as well as sentiment can be integrated with DOOH planning to identify locations and target the right customers. Creative messages can be optimized in real-time according to an audience, location and date and time. 

Audience-Based Planning

By analysing consumers’ movement patterns and changing behaviours brands will be able to better understand their target audiences. This data and new technology can then be used to target other specific audiences and to measure the impact of campaigns. Audience profile segmentation gives advertisers new insight on different audiences in the same location to ensure that the right ads are delivered to the right audience.

Advertisers can embrace the technological advances by focusing on specific audiences and using insights obtained by data to find and target the right audiences in efficient and cost-effective manners. Brands can reach audiences with personalised content in different environments at the right time and place. With the use of cross-channel strategies, brands can maximise their reach and retarget customers.

Out-of-home advertising (OOH) has for the past few years been the only form of traditional advertising that has maintained steady growth.

Other traditional advertising mediums have been severely impacted by the digital age. A few years ago, billboards were seen as outdated and irrelevant, but the traditional billboard has evolved and adapted to technology to remain an important and effective advertising medium.

Adapting to Technology

Technology has completely changed and disrupted the advertising scene. The rise of digital and mobile has forced traditional advertising forms such as print media, television, and radio to adapt and find new ways to stay relevant.

Advertising online and on social media has brought about new challenges, which includes algorithm changes, rising ad costs, getting noticed in overcrowded feeds and authentic connection with the audience.

Traditional outdoor advertising has however embraced technology. With this form of advertising, there is no need to worry about ad-skipping or ad blocking as is the case with other forms of online advertising.

The technological advances also mean that OOH now has an even bigger reach. Advertisers have heaps of data available at their disposal which enables them to know where people go, what they want to see when they want to see it and in what format they want to see it.

Technology has also enabled advertisers to be more creative and to be much more flexible as campaigns can be changed with the press of a button.

Integration with Other Mediums

OOH’s effectiveness is also due to its effortless integration with other advertising mediums. With the use of cross-channel strategies, advertisers can maximise their reach and retarget customers.

For example, a consumer has seen a brand on social media, television and heard about it on the radio. By seeing the brand again via OOH, it is possible to ensure brand engagement across multiple channels and devices.

OOH can be greatly amplified by other advertising mediums such as social media. A photo of an eye-catching billboard posted on social media can immediately start trending and this means advertisers can maximise their reach and target customers more directly.

Cross-channel strategies have been proven to ensure that consumers are exposed to an advertising message more than once and on different platforms which improves interaction and the call to action. OOH’s integration with other mediums can also mean more personalised communication and extended reach.

OOH can adapt, it is memorable, it has impact and cannot be ignored.

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising took a big hit this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns across the world.

Out-of-home advertising (OOH) has for the past few years been the only form of traditional advertising that has maintained steady growth. It is expected that the OOH industry will fully recover and return to growth mode in 2021 with new trends already emerging.

Increase in Digital Outdoor Advertising

Digital billboards and digital outdoor units are here to stay and will continue to increase in the coming year. DOOH advertising makes it so much easier for advertisers to get campaigns up and running and have made it possible for them to change and update their advertisements much quicker and easier with just a few clicks.

Digital billboards have also made advertisers more creative due to the use of videos, moving images or live streams in their campaigns. DOOH advertising also includes screens in hotels, airports, and shopping malls. It also includes street furniture and transit ads. 


DOOH requires more than a great location and a budget. It also needs impactful storytelling that is creative for brands to stand out from the competition by making their brand more memorable.

Storytelling is even more important in the COVID-19 era as advertisers will now need to think even more about the copy they use as it needs to relevant and speak to the mindset of people. It needs to recognise what the world has gone through and how this has changed people’s perception of what is important.

With DOOH a story needs to be told in only a few seconds, so it needs to be memorable to lead the consumer to act quicker. Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, and ideas are key in storytelling.

Audio Out-Of-Home (AOOH)

AOOH is a new way for advertisers to target audiences by making use of audio. Advertisers are then able to broadcast their message to consumers at a specific location. A lot of studies have been done regarding how sound influences consumer behaviour. Amongst other things it was found that audio such as background music, can influence how much time is spent in a store and purchasing decisions.

AOOH can for example be combined with a music playlist in a store with ads playing at specific times reminding consumers about promotions or special offers making them more likely to act. AOOH also gives advertisers the ability to target specific audiences at specific places and at specific times.

Outdoor advertising, better known as out-of-home advertising (OOH) advertising, is set for a major comeback in 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill and OOH is one of the industries that bore the brunt with curfews, quarantines and lockdowns in many countries worldwide.

Business, however, seems to be picking up again with many countries easing restrictions and lifting lockdowns.

 Four big trends for outdoor media in 2021 include:

Static Billboards

Static billboards will remain a popular option because it offers 24/7 exposure to an advertisement. This medium’s popularity

has also increased due to new printing technologies and creative solutions.

Static billboards provide high impact, reach large numbers of consumers every day, give the audience a chance to see the advertisement clearly and allow advertisers to choose the perfect location for maximum visibility. Static billboards are also typically rented for longer periods which can greatly increase awareness of an advertiser’s brand. Static billboards cannot be turned off or be ignored.


The digital transformation of OOH was already in process when the pandemic hit and it has accelerated the digital transformation of the medium. The number of digital displays is increasing at a rapid pace with new technologies and signage solutions being introduced. Interactive DOOH and programmatic DOOH continues to develop and it brings new and more opportunities.

Multi-Channel Integration

An increase in mobile integration with OOH means brands can increase their visibility and reach with multi-channel integration and cross-channel strategies. This can help to ensure a consistent message across all platforms and to reinforce a brand’s message.

One of the reasons for OOH’s effectiveness is due to its effortless integration with other advertising mediums. With the use of cross-channel strategies, advertisers can maximise their reach and retarget customers. OOH can be greatly amplified by other advertising mediums such as social media.

OOH’s integration with other mediums can also mean more personalised communication and extended reach.

Storytelling and Creativity

Storytelling allows brands to create engagement with their brand, to strengthen brand awareness and create consumer loyalty.

Stories need to have an aim, catch and maintain the audience’s attention, needs to evoke emotion, have a plot, have a satisfying ending and deliver a valuable end-experience. Storytelling requires creativity and out-of-the-box ideas as there needs to be innovation and engagement.

Advertisers are using storytelling to connect to consumers and to deliver impactful messages.

Digital content that is dynamic, or contextually relevant, ensures that the right information is provided at the right time.

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is the perfect medium due to its agility and dynamic capability.

Be Contextual

Studies have shown that contextually relevant content increases the effectiveness of a campaign which in turn increases sales and ad recall. Displaying an ad at the right moment, either by time, location, or relevance, increases brain response which increases ad recall and returns an uplift in sales.

Contextual ads speak to audiences seeing that it is more targeted and relevant. It means the right content is shown in the right context by adapting to the surroundings and using data to better understand consumers’ needs and wants at specific times and in specific places.

Intelligent Digital Signage , Augmented reality marketing and face recognition concept. Interactive artificial intelligence digital advertisement in retail shopping Mall.

Being contextual means choosing the right context and getting the tone right. Communication should be personalised as consumers are attracted to and want brands that speak to how they feel.

Changing Audience Behaviours

Understanding audience behaviour and knowing where the audience allows for more targeted and more relevant campaigns. Advertisers need to be able to adapt and respond to rapid changes in consumer behaviour and advancements in technology.

It is key to target the right audience for the right brand by understanding audience behaviour and by measuring the effectiveness and engagement of campaigns.

Knowing where an audience is and why they behave in a certain way is particularly important seeing that it will determine which marketing channels should be used in what way and with what content. Audience targeting involves not only knowing key demographic information but also knowing which locations your different target audiences are visiting, their interests and knowing how they use different media.

Dynamic Strategies

Advertisers need to have multiple creatives to deliver them based on the time of day, weather, events, type of audience and other data. By using real-time data consumers are given information that is relevant to where they are, what they are doing and even how they are feeling at that specific moment.

DOOH is a dynamic platform and hence the need for dynamic strategies that offer personal and meaningful interactions with a brand.  Data changes constantly and highlights the need for the creation of effective targeting strategies.

Content that is dynamic leads to a deeper engagement with the audience and allows for data-driven decision making.

The coronavirus pandemic will have a severe impact on the global out-of-home (OOH) market, but the sector is set to bounce back in 2021.

According to PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020–2024, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital disruption by amplifying ongoing shifts in consumers’ behaviour.

Digitalisation and DOOH

Social distancing and mobility restrictions have intensified digitalisation and according to the report the result is that the entertainment and media (E&M) world has become more remote, more virtual, more streamed, more personal and – for now at least – more centred on the home than anyone anticipated at the start of the year.

“It’s clear that COVID-19 has accelerated consumers’ transition to digital consumption and triggered disruptive change – both positive and negative – across many forms of media,” comments Werner Ballhaus, Global Entertainment & Media Industry Leader at PwC.

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is seeing high growth rates and is one of the fastest-growing media channels. Personalisation of DOOH advertising means content can be created specifically to the audience and placing.

An African Perspective

According to PwC’s Entertainment & Media Outlook: 2019-2023 – An African Perspective, South Africa’s OOH revenues will grow annually. The report found that even though the growth is sluggish OOH has proven itself as resilient in the face of challenges and that its ability to reach consumers is valued by advertisers.

The growth of digital formats is also being taken advantage of by the South African OOH market. At the time PwC’s report was published just more than a year ago the country already had more than 200 digital roadside billboards. It was also noted that this figure increases nearly every month.

The process of buying OOH advertising and regulation of outdoor advertising were highlighted as some of the possible obstacles regarding the OOH market in South Africa. But according to the report, the growth of DOOH will likely lead to a radical overhaul soon. “The advantages of programmatic advertising are considerable and include differential pricing based on real-time audience data and dynamic selling options.”

The regulation of outdoor advertising largely falls to local authorities, according to the report. This means that there can be large variations in regulations in different areas as well as the effective enforcement of these regulations.

According to the report a tipping point is nearing. “The increased usage of higher-value digital billboards and move away from physical formats means that by 2023, more than 45% of revenue will derive from DOOH.”

Programmatic digital out-of-home advertising (pDOOH) is expected to transform the industry.

pDOOH is the automation of buying and selling digital display advertising. Computer programs are used, and buyers can set certain campaign conditions. This includes the environments in which ads should play and the audience they want to reach. Advertisers can for example request conditions such as shopping malls in certain locations and target a certain age group as their audience.

pDOOH also involves real-time buying or bidding (RTB) which gives buyers the option of bidding on specific ad slots and buying them. The ad is then immediately delivered and can also immediately be tracked.

Two of the main benefits of pDOOH is better audience targeting and dynamic content. Targeting tactics are used to get ads delivered to certain people at a certain time. pDOOH is seen as a way to make DOOH more precise and powerful by using external data to trigger content. In addition to pDOOH’s highly targeted capabilities, it is also faster and more flexible with the ability to adapt quickly.

Key Challenges

An IAB study conducted by PwC UK found that three key challenges need to be overcome for pDOOH to realise its full potential.

Senior industry executives from companies and agencies were interviewed who according to the report all expressed their enthusiasm about the potential of pDOOH campaigns as a driver for innovation and growth by giving real value for advertisers.

Three key challenges were identified in making pDOOH a mainstream media buy – more education, reduced fragmentation, and more standardization.

Education was specifically highlighted as critical to the adoption of pDOOH. This includes the education of clients, agency planners, and buyers regarding what is possible with pDOOH

“Understanding the benefits of DOOH, how programmatic trading can bring value to clients, and how you can trade DOOH programmatically, were identified as three areas of focus,” according to the report.

The fragmentation of inventory and media owners was identified as another key challenge. This leads to a restricting of media spend. Different players are developing their technological solutions which are leading to further fragmentation.

The lack of standardization due to the use of different datasets and methodologies is also seen as a key inhibitor to pDOOH. According to the report, audience segments must be defined across all media types as well as the methodology behind the measurement.

Advertising is one of the industries that has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockdowns across the world led to an immediate drop in advertising spend. Out-of-home advertising (OOH) has for the past few years been the only form of traditional advertising that has maintained steady growth and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on this.

With phased re-openings, more people are leaving their homes and OOH and digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) is poised for a big comeback.

A New Message

COVID-19 forced brands to alter their advertising campaigns and change their messages. The pandemic is also changing consumer behaviour which in turn means that advertisers need to alter how they speak to audiences and how their messages are conveyed. COVID-19 has in some instances changed consumer behaviour and patterns which in turn influences their consumption.

OOH’s Digital Transformation

COVID-19 has demonstrated the need to be able to quickly adjust when something unexpected happens and has brought DOOH even more to the front. With DOOH advertisers were in the position to change and update advertisements much quicker and easier with just a few clicks. Advertisers were able to run new and relevant campaigns and were able to communicate with audiences in increasingly versatile ways. COVID-19 has fuelled OOH’s digital transformation to DOOH as businesses are rethinking their digital strategies and consumers’ priorities have changed.

Transformation of The Medium

COVID-19 has also brought new opportunities and has given the OOH and DOOH advertising industries time to reflect on how the medium is perceived. The pandemic has brought along an increased demand for digital technologies. New technologies and displays are likely to be introduced keeping public safety in mind and adapting to the way’s technology have been embraced during the pandemic.

More Relevant Than Ever Before

With people more excited than ever to leave the house because of worldwide lockdowns, OOH and DOOH can be more visible and relevant than ever before. Advertisers now need to get creative with their messages and content to capture the attention. Using cross-channel strategies advertisers can maximise their reach and ensure that consumers are exposed to or interact with an advertising message and that they act. Advertisers can create more relevant and responsive campaigns and convey messages that resonate with consumers in a meaningful way.