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How the Pandemic Affected Outdoor Advertising in Major Cities Worldwide

OOH Media Standstill at Osaka

It’s no secret to anyone that the COVID-19 pandemic affected more areas of all of our lives than we could ever have imagined. Many of us were moved to online work, our children were suddenly needing to be homeschooled, and socializing amongst extended family and friends was no longer on the table.

The pandemic also affected a few things that we may not have even considered. One of these industries is the industry of outdoor advertising. Outdoor advertising, also known as out-of-home or OOH advertising, is any form of advertisement you may see outside your home. This includes billboards, LED displays, posters, wallscapes, and things like street furniture or bus sheds.

Though outdoor advertising as a whole took a huge hit in the wake of the pandemic, major cities seem to have been affected most by this decline in outdoor advertising. Let’s take a look at how this pandemic has impacted outdoor advertising measures in the biggest cities in the country.

Fewer People Leaving Home Means Fewer People Seeing Outdoor Advertisements

When quarantine orders were issued, we all had to recalculate. This meant staying at home except for groceries, necessities, or emergencies. Though this decreased use of fossil fuels was beneficial to the environment, it wasn’t a great time for outdoor advertisements like billboards and LEDs to get any kind of exposure.

When it comes to outdoor advertising, getting noticed is the name of the game. When people aren’t driving around, they aren’t going to come across any roadside billboards or signs. This affected every aspect of outdoor advertising, causing many billboard companies to negotiate and revisit contracts with their site lessors.

More Food Delivery and Streaming Services Are Using Billboards

When we were stuck at home, many of us watched hours upon hours of television on our couch. With the rise of streaming services, the majority of this binge-watching was done on those many streaming services.

Since we were also supposed to go out in public as little as possible, we did a lot of ordering food from our homes. With the numerous food delivery apps out there, we could get just about every restaurant in the area delivered right to our front door.

Foodpanda LED on C5

The uptick in business experienced by these companies led to some extra revenue and led to even more new companies in the same industry being created. So, how does this affect outdoor advertising?

These food delivery and streaming services made their way onto many of the outdoor advertisements that are making a comeback today. Food delivery and video streaming ads occupy many of the Chicago, Miami, and Dallas billboards as outdoor advertising begins to make its comeback.  The same goes for Metro Manila and EDSA billboards as we saw great OOH campaigns by Foodpanda and Netflix (Trese).

Trese billboard implemented by UM

The interesting thing about these billboards is that they are old-school, traditional advertisements that inspire you to take action on your phone. Some of them even have giant QR codes that you can scan to take you to the app store to download their app or to check out their website.

Advertising in Event Spaces at a Standstill

Some of the biggest places that businesses use outdoor advertising are large event spaces. Most of these large event spaces are found in big metropolitan areas that are already highly populated. Arenas, concert halls, and anywhere else where people gather en masse are some of the best places that companies can get the word out about their business.

With social distancing guidelines, packing out these arenas was no longer an option. Huge events were canceled or postponed until further notice. This means that all of the advertising on billboards and digital screens at these places was not an option. This is just another way that advertising outdoors has been brought to a halt during the pandemic and is still working its way back to the way it was before.

Fewer People Using Public Transportation Meant Fewer Advertisements on Highways and Subways

Many out-of-home advertisements in large cities are put in the top corners of the subway, on park benches by trains, and at bus stop shelters. With these social distancing guidelines and quarantine in effect, these public transportation systems were not being used very often.

This meant that street furniture like bus sheds and transit advertisements weren’t often being seen by people which led to advertisers pulling out from these outdoor advertising avenues.

Outdoor Advertising will Make a Comeback Soon

Though it has taken quite a hit during the pandemic, outdoor advertising has been around for centuries and shows no sign of going away anytime soon. It may take a while, but the outdoor advertising industry is already showing increased success from last year, even here in Metro Manila.

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