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The past two years have been a rollercoaster for businesses reliant on foot traffic, and Covid-19’s constantly-shifting forms has made seeing a true end of it an uncertainty. According to McKinsey, endemicity (meaning that we’re essentially stuck with it) remains the most likely scenario, with society learning to make future choices that enable us to co-exist with the virus. This approach will have far-reaching implications for business. More specifically, it will be necessary to adapt advertising strategies to meet customers where they are now.
As our society grows accustomed to new norms, including remote and hybrid workplaces, brands are tasked to meet consumers around their home territories. Fortunately, out-of-home (OOH) advertising is uniquely qualified to meet this need, because location-specific placements can now reach the exact audiences you want to engage, wherever they are. This makes it an essential aspect of a marketing plan today and for the long haul.
Since OOH is also one of the most cost-effective mediums available, demand is only increasing, which means inventory will become scarce. However, with early planning, you can use the following tactics to get the best deals available.
1. Make the marketplace more competitive
Competition never hurts anyone, and as the customer you’ll score by making vendors compete for your advertising dollars. The OOH landscape is massive, but the largest player only controls about 15% of inventory. The other 85% belongs to more than 1,100 smaller media owners, which results in increased rivalry and better pricing. So, when you put out a campaign RFP, give all media owners an equal opportunity to compete on pricing and offer you a deal that will boost your ROI.
2. Demand transparency
In this highly competitive arena, pricing can be a sensitive topic. Demand full transparency on pricing to avoid hidden costs getting passed on to you. Whether you’re buying through a third-party partner or platform or working with an agency, verify from the outset that the prices you’re getting don’t always come from the same vendor or vendor group. (That either means the third party hasn’t done their homework to bring you the best price, or there’s some private deal on the go that could signify bias.) Most third-party partners act in the best interest of their clients; just make sure that the one you use is doing so.
3. Use data wisely
OOH advertising has evolved to the point where you can now target consumers with specific attributes based on data. You just need high-quality and up-to-date information to match a target audience with a target market. With access to a wide range of behavioral and demographic data, you can feel confident expanding into new markets, and can also locate, engage and convert the kind of high-value audiences previously found only in the big metropolitan areas.
Data isn’t just about the audiences, either: You also need to get historical pricing and performance data from vendors (both pre- and post-pandemic) for every placement you’re considering. This will tell you whether the price pitched is a good deal, in a reasonable price range or ridiculously expensive, and will give you a clear indication of the type of ROI you can expect from your campaign.
4. Leverage look-alike audiences
Instead of reinventing the wheel (or the billboard), leveraging a look-alike audience option will give you access to the same consumers in the areas they now frequent. If your target customer previously lived in New York, LA or San Francisco and regularly passed through Grand Central Station or LAX, they might no longer do that as often post-pandemic. That doesn’t mean either the customers or their needs have changed, just their commute. They still have the same wants and needs no matter where they live.
5. Measure to minimize waste
Measuring the performance and outcome of OOH ad campaigns used to be a real challenge, but that has changed. Marketers now have multiple ways of tracking how well theirs is working in real time, regardless of whether the purpose is to raise awareness, promote recollection or drive conversions in stores or online.
In fact, with digital out-of-home (DOOH), advertisers can test, modify and even swap out creatives mid-campaign based on performance metrics, which means that you don’t waste a single second running an ad that’s not working. That’s a great way to maximize an advertising budget.
Related: Calculating Your Ad Budget
6. Increase your ROI value
OOH might be one of the most cost-effective advertising methods, but that doesn’t mean you should get any less value when you spend money on it. Use current real-time data to drive your planning, buying and creative production. Find the right platforms to reach your customers, test every option before you run it and track overall performance.
When the pandemic is over, it’s going to be a whole new world. For your brand to flourish, you need to shift your outlook, update your approach and find ways to meet your target customers in the real world.