It’s time to optimise OOH spend in the post-COVID era  

Co-founder of Total Outdoor Media Ged Hart suggests a reevaluation of one of advertising's oldest strategies is long overdue.

From its initial heyday to freeway bypasses and the digital media revolution, Out-Of-Home (OOH) has seen its fair share of market highs and lows. Post-COVID, as mass interstate migration and relocation trends have seen regional gateway towns surge in population, OOH companies have started investing once more in large format static and digital inventory.

There has never been a more opportune time for advertisers to re-assess where their OOH media spend is being focused, and engage with a highly localised  audience once more. But in order to maximise the effectiveness of any OOH spend, it’s critical that advertisers and media buyers alike better understand the new landscape.

For too long, OOH, in particular, regional OOH, has been treated as an add-on rather than a highly strategic component of integrated media campaigns. In order to optimise spend in the post-COVID era, it’s never been more important to get to know the individual sites you are investing in, and what returns they are likely  to yield based on each location’s specific audience demographics and your brief.

For example, Orbost, Sea Lake and Nhill have a much higher median age of population (50+) than Melbourne (34-years-old), while Hastings, Mickleham and Geelong boast a much higher number of construction workers than other locations around Victoria. These are insights which are far too often underutilised when OOH is looked at purely through the lens of total eyeballs.

And let’s not forget regional – over 25 to 30% of Victoria’s population lives regionally, and according to the ABS, 93% of these people drive to work as their primary mode of transport, compared with 87% of Melbourne’s workers.

Not since the ‘cigarette era’ of yesteryear when companies like Philip Morris and Benson & Hedges funded the mass development of OOH billboards to tout its products has there been such an investment into large-format digital inventory.

OOH companies have used the post-COVID migration trends to significantly bolster their regional inventory. This has led to the mass digitisation of cross-country and regional inventory, opening up a whole new world of opportunity for advertisers.

The number one rule all advertisers should play by is, just because some OOH may be thrown in as an ‘added value’ or ‘bonus’ to bump up campaign impressions, doesn’t mean it’s worth its weight in paper. Considered selection of billboard inventory needs to be more strategic, and selected individually rather than as part  of a package, in order to deliver real ROI.

Don’t let your brand down by placing your campaign on an old, rotting panel that is  too far away from the road to get noticed or too small in its surroundings. Large format is as it suggests, ‘large’. It should be big, bold and prominent and give its audience – travelling at high speeds across freeways – every opportunity to see it.

Regional OOH is no longer just an add-on, but a heavily strategic consideration in any major advertiser’s above the line spend. Advertisers and media buyers alike need to get more educated on the benefits of each location in order to maximise the returns of their investment.

We need to stop looking at billboards as ‘dots on the map’ and start looking at the individual locations, demographics, commuting habits and specific locally-focused  audience characteristics of each, in order to truly unlock the potential of Out of Home once again.

Ged Hart is the co-founder of Total Outdoor Media.


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