Digital Conversion: How Digital Out-of-Home Provides New Opportunities for Public Affairs

John Alex Golden

Senior Content Strategist John Alex Golden discusses the shift to Digital Out-of-Home advertising in 2021 and beyond.

Last January’s WARC report on the shift to digital advertising in 2020 (which I previously discussed) included an interesting footnote regarding the future of the industry as 2021 ramps up.
Digital Out-of-Home and Cinema Advertising saw tremendous, but expected, drops in spending during the COVID-19 pandemic; cinemas and other public spaces saw exponentially less foot traffic, and advertisers responded by moving their budgets online. With an increased vaccine rollout and the slow but steady reopening of public spaces, both of these platforms are expected to rebound significantly in 2021, all but erasing their losses.
The most fascinating part to Signal and our clients, however, is how out-of-doors digital technologies will help bolster the effectiveness of , moving beyond paid banner ads on websites or social media to 360 degree campaigns with the addition of digital ads on outdoor screens as audiences move through a city or suburb.
Advertising networks are already implementing technology that pings mobile devices in a theater and show an ad prior to a screening, in your office building’s elevator, at your local bus stop’s digital screen, or atop the ride-share vehicle passing by users as they walk. Those devices can then be retargeted for banner, social, and video ads, reinforcing an advertiser’s message and keeping their product or issue top of mind. An ad displayed at the bus stop may not immediately encourage you to seek more information; being served a similar complementary ad later can trigger recognition in users and increase engagements.
Evolutions like this will continue to keep the digital space growing in creative ways at a time the industry needs it most. In the coming months, the so-called Cookiepocalypse (with both Apple and Google taking strong steps to limit third party cookies and data tracking) will cause advertisers to lose access to huge data-pools once used to target ads to exactly the right users. This monumental victory for privacy activists won’t be the last, as the Biden administration looks to regulate the Big Tech forms that largely control advertising platforms.
Aggregated anonymized mobile data that works with digital out-of-home option will help close that gap for advertisers. Signal’s Digital team has already seen positive results from hyperlocal targeting and device identification, allowing our clients to reach event attendees, thought leaders, and decision-makers at all levels of government. Digital not only adds a compelling additional ad view for clients, but offers new and often large, bold options that capture attention and will be remembered long after.
With Americans eager to get out of the house and crowding public places, the market for Digital Out-of-Home is likely to skyrocket in the coming months. The networks that are able to effectively use mobile targeting will see the best results for clients, and are likely to be the most in-demand as advertisers learn of their effectiveness. Unlike with the shift to digital during the pandemic, however, limits on inventory available and a plethora of alternative (and proven effective) options may slow the growth of this format. Forward thinking advertisers and public affairs advocates will see the positive results from these programs and adjust their budgets accordingly.

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