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Last week, out-of-home ad bosses shared their pandemic recovery plans with The Drum. This week, Posterscope USA’s Christian Vollerslev goes deeper to discuss the recovery of the medium amid an unmatched slump.

Advertisers already know what OOH brings to the table as part of the media mix, says Christian Vollerslev, the president of out-of-home and location marketer Posterscope USA. “It’s not a case of selling them on the medium, but selling them on the data that proves people are moving again.”

Lockdown and the immediate loss of audience at many outdoor sites hit the OOH industry hard. But, in clusters around the globe, there is evidence of those audiences slowly but surely returning to pre-lockdown levels. Getting that evidence in front of advertisers is the challenge now.

“While some States are still down in footfall, others are back to pre-Covid-19 levels, so we must change the perspective and, thus, apply a grassroots approach by overlaying advertisers’ key focus markets and media owners’ key inventory.”

In normal times, you could take for granted that a certain footfall would pass a site and that it’d be measured with a degree of accuracy. Now, data needs to be generated on a week-by-week basis to evidence which sites are being rejuvenated. Agencies like Posterscope are increasingly consulting anonymized mobile data to see how human movement is returning. Vollerslev says this method ”will enable data to generate a quicker recovery for OOH in the US”.

In the wider market, he warns that the digitization of inventory must continue, even when the market struggles. “By focusing on what OOH is inherently great at, while at the same time accelerating the digitization and innovation of the industry, including programmatic trading strategies and dynamic messaging, clients will be satisfied.”

For him, it’s a safe bet – after all, US OOH spend grew for 40 quarters before the pandemic.

What’s built this platform is its (usual) reliability, says Vollerslev. “In a digital world that has caused disruption and fragmentation, OOH really is the only channel that can still deliver brilliant branding campaigns and reach audiences at scale, on a national level. It is trusted by consumers and provides the last window of influence for retailers with bricks and mortar stores.”

Vollerslev adds low CPMs and a good billboard’s ability to live in social and the press as additional benefits, and explains that we’re at the stage now where digital out-of-home is no longer the industry’s “shiny toy”, saying you can get around 80% national coverage with digital screens in the US. 

It seems like a lot of investment to turn static boards into screens, but other benefits he touts include ”the ability to dynamically optimize a message based on real-world events and real-time data triggers – such as weather conditions, current events, social media or sports scores – which allows for on-the-fly customization across many DOOH platforms". This is something static OOH just cannot offer, he says.

Melding these sites with programmatic buying – which most digital marketers now have a grasp of will be vital for the fast growth of the medium.

From our pandemic period, Vollerslev has saw a few really good OOH campaigns – in particular, Dove thanking first responders and essential workers and Coca-Cola’s social distancing work highlighted at the top of this piece. “The medium has shown its importance during the pandemic and the national disasters, such as the wildfires in California or the Hurricanes currently hitting the East Coast.“

Looking forward, he expects heavy growth in spend from the tech giants, entertainment, quick service restaurants and DTC sector – all looking to capitalize on an at-home audience.

For better or worse, the movement’s almost back to where it was. “The data shows the majority of America is moving. People still shop. People hunger to be outdoors more than ever.“