OOH audiences return after initial COVID-19 free-fall, despite ‘the threat of a fine’: QMS data

Lockdown restrictions are yet to be formally eased, but data from out of home (OOH) company QMS points to OOH audiences slowly returning after an initial slump – CBD contacts dropped an average of 71% year-on-year in April – as COVID-19 forced people inside.

At their lowest, OOH audiences dropped by 54% in the week commencing 6 April, and total contacts by 67%. But data up to 3 May points to a reach increase of 26%, and contacts climb of 18%, from that early April position.

QMS said the gradual return of audiences, despite the legal obligation to obey social distancing rules and only leave home for essential reasons, shows “the need for humans to be mobile and experience their freedom, irrespective of the threat of a fine or embarrassment for defying the rules”.

Click to enlarge

“The assumption that numbers are down is fair enough, but thinking that this translates to a complete cut in traffic and therefore the destruction of reach is inaccurate,” said QMS general manager of strategy, Christian Zavecz.

“However, without the audience numbers that relate to this COVID-19 time, agencies and clients would be justified in drawing their own potentially inaccurate conclusions.”

Central business districts have unsurprisingly been worst hit, with an average slide in contacts of 71% year on year for April, but suburban (-41%) and regional (-34%) areas were also considerably back for the month.

QMS said the data shows people want to be “mobile and experience their freedom”, even if it means risking a fine for breaching lockdown requirements

The data comes from Dynamiq, QMS’ audience measurement platform that launched in January following three years of development. Zavecz said the platform has “one of the biggest per capita sample sizes of any medium in the country”, and has purposely moved away from averaged audiences and long time frames for data collection, “because this smooths out the very peaks and troughs we want our agencies and clients to be aware of”.

“We also anticipate that as we emerge from our isolation and feel able to be out and about again enjoying our mobile lives, this will be matched by renewed attention to OOH messages,” Zavecz added.

“One of those things that we did not know we missed until we could no longer access it as we were used to. So, the new creative advertisers are currently thinking about is going to be exposed to a very receptive audience. Bring it on.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.