Connecting Offline to Online

The first week of the NI ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions are now complete, with schools returning at the beginning of November. At this point in the year, the OOH sector should have a greater sense of optimism and confidence than we had in March. Our restrictions are similar to those in August, however in Spring we entered the realms of the unknown and the unprecedented. Having been here before gives us reassurance, both as an advertising sector and at a personal level. Undoubtedly we’ll see another shift in behaviour, and once again OOH’s ability to deliver hyper-localised targeting will be called upon.

But our collective situation is different in many ways now. At the minute, schools are closed for an extended half-term break, however childcare facilities remain open. During the incoming week we would expect to see many parents use planned annual leave, possibly taking some time away from work to focus on family time or starting Christmas shopping.

As winter sets in and schools return, we would expect to see the school run become even more pronounced, increasing traffic in suburban areas at pickup and drop off times. Although restrictions remain on transport capacity, a full timetable on Translink services remains in place, serving and moving through local communities all day every day.

Hospitality is far better prepared, and consumers will be keen to support our local pubs and restaurants with so many offering collection services now. In a change from the early restrictions, elite sporting events are now going ahead, with some allowing spectators. In addition, parks and playgrounds remain open, so too are indoor and outdoor activity centres and soft play venues.

What won’t change is the attraction for advertisers in communicating with audiences in essential retail destinations such as standalone supermarkets, shopping malls and retail parks. Retailers, particularly supermarkets and larger stores are operating automated person entry systems to facilitate social distancing. This will undoubtedly lead to queues for entry in the peak pre-Christmas period. Even in recent days, we’ve heard reports locally of large numbers of shoppers at out of town retail parks including the Boucher Road.

In this week’s Now Near Next, we explore how advertisers can utilise the power of OOH to adapt to a shift in shopping behaviour by creating an effective offline- to-online sales channel to drive online activation.

This year, we’re likely to see a shift in consumers Christmas shopping behaviour with a move to online channels as a preferred means of gift purchasing for many in the lead up to Christmas. Despite this, we don’t expect to see a further boom in online grocery shopping in the festive period for two reasons. Firstly, at a practical level despite an increase in the number of click and collect, and home delivery slots since March, many people have continued to use the service and slots are limited. Secondly, while the services offered by supermarkets are a huge benefit to many, no one wants to fall foul of a poor substitution. What would ruin Christmas more than having your turkey substituted for a chicken?

Deloitte’s Covid Tracker also shows that grocery spending amongst UK adults is predicted to increase by 18% over the next four weeks, as people prepare for the festive season. In the last 12 weeks, until 4th October, Kantar report take-home grocery sales rose by 9.4%, and in the shorter term (last four weeks) by 10.6%. Judging by this, it’s likely that shoppers were beginning to move their eating and drinking back into the home, even before restrictions were tightened. Alcohol sales alone were worth £261million to UK grocers this month compared to the same time last year, with curfews and closures within the on-trade industry.

Black Friday (including Cyber Monday) has been thoroughly embraced by consumers in recent years and is now a firmly established sales event that has extended the shopping period for Christmas. Entering into a peak shopping season in the calendar for retailers, online shopping, home deliveries and click and collect services will intrinsically grow in popularity for retailers and consumers alike as people seek out Black Friday deals and Christmas gifts in the coming weeks.

Research conducted by Core reveals 45% plan to do more of their Christmas shopping online this year. While research carried out by DMG Media Ireland shows that 82% of Irish people are shopping online more than ever with 55% stating they will begin shopping earlier this year. The research also found 70% of shoppers are planning to shop on local websites for Christmas gifts this year.

Harnessing OOH Strengths

In a very fragmented media landscape, harnessing the power of OOH advertising to increase awareness and consideration will be even more imperative as we enter a busy winter period.

Broadcasting ads via OOH can provide an opportunity for brands to drive awareness, introduce products and services, create intrigue, and encourage purchase. OOH can effectively inform audiences on retailers’ current operations whether that’s simply communicating an online presence, click or collect services or acting as a virtual shelf showcasing products or promotions.

By placing ads in prime locations and environments, retailers can target a large, diverse group of people who are already on the path to purchase and those in-market audiences looking for gift ideas and inspiration. Acting as discovery medium, OOH can prompt audiences to go online to research and essentially purchase from retailers.

With a plethora of OOH and DOOH formats available across many environments that we will still venture to and pass by in the coming weeks, advertisers can leverage the Outdoor medium as a Point of Sale extension for online channels.

Linking Offline and Online

We know OOH is a key offline driver to online with Nielsen reporting it delivers more online activity than any other traditional media channel. OOH is proven to amplify the digital space and create action among audiences transcending and bridging the gap between the offline and online world.

OOH lends itself to right time, right place advertising and brands can entice audiences with OOH communications and ultimately influence purchases. Our own iQ research found 59% of people have searched online for a company or product as a direct response to seeing an OOH advertisement while over a third (37%) have made an online purchase.

And with an online portal in our hand and pockets, OOH can influence search and purchases instantaneously and ‘on the go’.  Insights shows nearly a third of NI adults have either researched or purchased a product/service online via their mobile phone after seeing an OOH ad (TGI NI 2020).

Flexing those Creative Capabilities

With digital OOH’s flexibility and adaptability to change messaging quickly as required, Dynamic OOH can connect with consumers by allowing brands to respond quickly to a change in circumstance.

With the ability to display dynamically changing messaging and content, advertisers can deliver various creatives based on real-time information alongside the advertisements. This kind of dynamic content can help the medium deliver messages that piques the consumers’ interests while maximising value for advertisers.

Utilising PML Group’s Liveposter platform to create event-based communications, advertisers can produce even more relevant and ‘in the moment’ content to drive action. Using variables such as sales countdown, promoting deals and stock availability to name but a few, OOH can drive stronger engagement with consumers in the physical space.

The ‘Moments of Truth’ research, a collaborative study from Posterscope, Clear Channel and JCDecaux in the UK, shows how live updates which could include features such as a countdown, limited stock availability or social proofing are more memorable and relatable to audiences.

Measuring memory encoding, these types of content variables are more effective at driving increased brain response (+22%) with both sides of the brain perceiving a reason to encode this information, driving it into memory. By creating urgency or having an element of social proofing e.g. the number of items recently purchased, viewers identified closely and emotionally with the details in the ad. The study also reveals how the use of contextually relevant messaging delivers an average +17% uplift in Digital Out of Home campaign effectiveness.

And Finally…

With a strong societal narrative encouraging online shopping and to click Irish, audiences are already primed to look out for value and brands who operate in the retail space.

Using the data points collected in our Now Near Next series along with our bespoke planning tools such as Pinpoint and Locomizer, we can identify OOH hotspots to help brands take advantage of available audiences and provide the best return on investment by select sites, locations and environments that deliver the highest impact.

As demonstrated above, OOH is an effective way to reach and influence consumers, marketers who include OOH in their media mix can greatly benefit from this offline-to-online channel and build a more connected consumer journey in the coming weeks.