We spent most of 2020 cooped up at home, so it’s no surprise that outdoor advertising had much less of an impact than it usually does across the year. But it’s an area of advertising and marketing that is making a rapid comeback – relaxation of lockdowns worldwide have made people flock outside at every opportunity, and as we hit the middle of 2021 we are all experienced enough at social distancing to spend more time in public worry-free. While you may be forgiven for thinking that the most effective ways of delivering a brand message are via digital channels, old school advertising be it billboards or printed material still pack a significant punch, and shouldn’t be overlooked when designing a marketing campaign for your company. So let’s take a look at some hot outdoor advertising trends that have popped up this year and look set to stay.
The Insta effect
Economies worldwide have been under strain ever since the outbreak of coronavirus, so getting your brand message across is more crucial than ever. All successful brand advertising has always pushed the boundaries when it comes to creativity in an effort to stand out in an increasingly competitive market. We are already seeing billboards and other advertising methods becoming more Instagram friendly – this takes outdoor advertising online, with a tacit endorsement from someone not involved with the brand – always a powerful method of delivery. Of course that means your ad needs to be photogenic, engaging and impressive – if it is you will encourage brand amplification from viewers, which essentially makes an outdoor advert into a social channel.
The classic billboard
Large static billboards are a timeless part of our modern, urban landscape. No other means of message delivery gives constant, 24/7 exposure, and billboards are an extremely effective way to reach a large number of people very quickly. Billboards also enable companies to choose the best positioning for their brand – and as most billboard rentals are medium-long term, commuters see them every morning from their cars, trains, bikes or walks. In this way the brand message is repeated and hits home – billboards are proven in their effectiveness because of this repeated exposure. Billboards can be iconic, clever, downright beautiful and pointedly topical – see how many COVID related advertisements there are around at the moment.
Now that we are cautiously but optimistically emerging from lockdown many people are realising just how important person to person interaction is, not just with our friends and family but in everyday life. Marketing can be a social – but still socially distanced – thing, and branded events, whether organised with invitations or pop-up style in public areas, have always packed a punch when it comes to reach and engagement. There are plenty of mobile branding solutions out there, from affordable but effective pull up banners through to branded cars and vans placed strategically around town. And of course physically present brand representatives can flesh out the broad messages on your ads and give a warm, personal feel.
We are already seeing an increase in mobile integration with outdoor advertising. As every smartphone has a QR code scanner, it’s no surprise that every billboard or bus station poster you see has a QR code on it. And as the pandemic has made us hyper-aware of contactless technology QR seems to be here to stay. They turn static advertising into an interactive form of marketing, fostering communication between brands and their potential customers. 2021 also sees a gradual expansion of programmatic advertising, through blockchain, 5G networks, over-the-top models, voice-activated ads, and more. This exciting technology allows for real time advertising making use of AI.
Still a crucial part of marketing strategy, storytelling helps consumers to emotionally connect with a brand, and if used properly can compel them to remember you, leading to further engagement. Take two brands with an identical product – the one with the compelling narrative in their outdoor advertising campaign is the one who will attract more customers. Good storytelling lends authenticity, intimacy and personality to a brand, fostering engagement – often with more interactive digital channels. Part of the job of outdoor advertising is to coax consumers into checking your brand out online.
Outdoor advertising – still relevant, still cutting edge, and still a highly effective part of any brands marketing strategy.