The Digital Out-of-Home Opportunity during COVID-19

Why now, during COVID-19, is the right time to connect with your customers using DOOH 

The time for CPGs to connect with their customers is now. Despite the uncertainty brought by COVID-19 and the decrease in movement outside the home, Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) is a powerful medium for CPGs to share their messages of commitment, promotions, and/or product availability. Currently, there is less advertising noise in the market, consumers are taking purposeful trips out of home, grocery spend is up, and OOH advertising is continuing to reach the consumers that count.

Understanding Movement, Grocery, and OOH Trends

Over the last months, as the pandemic started and then moved into the lockdown stage, movement patterns have changed dramatically. Ubimo’s data around Out-of-Home (OOH) inventory showed a period of increased movement as people went to the store and stocked-up on supplies between 2/24/20 – 3/8/20. This was followed by a steep decline in movement between 3/9/20 – 3/20/20, as shelter-in-place orders went into effect. But we have experienced a stabilization since this drop as people adjust to quarantine living and their new routines.

Line graph showing shopper movement on the DMA level during COVID-19 times
This graph shows the percent lift in shopper movement on the DMA level compared to pre-pandemic times.

Despite the decrease in overall movement, consumers continue to frequent grocery stores, pharmacies, and big box stores to shop for essentials. Quotient’s data shows that grocery spend has increased by 21.6% during this COVID-19 period since 2/17/20. So, how can OOH help CPGs connect with their audiences to share messages about their products as consumers are spending more in stores?   

Inforgraphic showing consumer exposure to DOOH advertising during COVID-19
6 out of 10 grocery store shoppers are exposed to OOH advertising during COVID-19 compared to 7 out of 10 before the pandemic.

Currently, grocery store visits are now more purposeful and well planned. Our data shows that 6 out of 10 grocery store shoppers have been exposed to OOH advertising on their way to the store during the COVID-19 period. In comparison, before COVID-19 related shelter-in-place orders, 7 out of 10 grocery store shoppers saw an OOH message. The majority of grocery shoppers are still viewing OOH properties despite the changes in behavior caused by the virus. While people are going out less, when they do leave the house, it is for specific, important tasks, like grocery shopping. And on their trip to the store, while in the mindset of purchasing products produced by CPGs, audiences are viewing OOH advertising.

What Does This Mean for CPGs?

This is the time for CPGs to engage with customers. Major CPGs, like P&G, have stated publicly that they believe now, more than ever, it is important to have conversations with their audiences. CPGs can serve their current customer’s needs and also engage with new customers, as brand loyalty is shifting while audiences focus on convenience and safety by going to different retailers and trying new products. 

“There’s big upside here in terms of reminding consumers of the benefits that they’ve experienced on our brands and how they’ve served their and their families’ needs, which is why this is not a time to go off air.”  

P&G CFO, Q1 Earnings call

OOH advertising is an ideal medium to reach both existing and potential new customers. OOH is often the last touchpoint with a customer before they enter the store. Today, as people take their purposeful trips there is less distraction and noise. CPGs are no longer competing for share of voice with many other industries, like travel or entertainment. Thus, by advertising using OOH, brands can reach consumers with little distraction in the critical moments before they make their purchasing decisions.  

Real-time Planning, Targeting, and Insights with DOOH

Our real-time OOH exposure data makes it possible to plan and activate campaigns that reach the right consumers at the right time when shopping is on their minds. Movement needs to be understood on a DMA level, since different areas of the country are experiencing different phases of the spread of COVID-19, from shelter-in-place to reopening. Our movement dashboard makes it possible to see and segment those changes and adjust DOOH campaigns to respond to shifts.  

A lot has altered in this time, including audiences. To respond to that change, we created a new set of audiences and a taxonomy to reach key groups that CPGs might want to share their messages with. These audiences are based on visitation and purchase behaviors and include Grocery Store Shoppers, Big Box Shoppers, Essential Workers, and Pharmacy Shoppers.  

Finally, we have built a package of OOH media focused on billboards and street level signage that consumers pass on the way to the store. We have mapped these media to the retailers people are visiting during COVID-19. These packages enable brands to engage shoppers with DOOH messages on their way to the store, so brands are top of mind and can ensure they are gaining a share of consumers’ larger basket sizes.   

Final Thoughts

In these uncertain and changing times, CPGs can still effectively reach their audiences using OOH. While people are out less, when they leave the house to shop, they are buying more and 6 out of 10 grocery store shoppers are exposed to OOH messages. Don’t go radio silent on your customers. Continue to reach out to them with DOOH.