Imagine lavishly produced advertising flickering across a big screen in a public space, and no one is looking. That's what happened in the spring of 2020, when the Corona Shutdown sent the country into a state of shock. People barricaded themselves in their home offices, barely daring to leave their homes, let alone get on a bus or into a train station concourse. Advertisers have simply burned large budgets, put them into the wind. Or so it would seem.
However, if one listens to advertising service providers and suppliers of billboard and so-called DOOH advertising ("Digital Out-of-Home"), there is no talk of lamentation. "Basically, 'Out-of-Home Media' held up very well during Corona, apart from the lockdown in the spring, and was the real winner in the summer," says Beat Holenstein, Head of Marketing and Member of the Executive Board at APGISGA.
"The effect of the screens has not changed due to the crisis," says Dragan Dojcinovic, CEO of Livesystems. Especially now that mobility has increased significantly compared to the spring, this is clearly noticeable. Of course, one has also reacted to the advertising customers in the environment of the lockdown. "We have largely compensated for the losses suffered, also as a result of the partly strict requirements of the FOPH, with flexibility and generous offers," says Dojcinovic. The digital offers of Livesystems can be booked and played out for all customers, even at short notice, which is a great advantage of DOOH, especially in such times.
Less public transport, more private transport
After the slump in mobility in the lockdown, the first relaxations already indicated that DOOH is "recovering the fastest" of all advertising channels and has an above-average presence in the media planning of many companies, notes Diego Quintarelli. The excellent Swiss outdoor summer also contributed to this, confirms the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Clear Channel Switzerland.
With the renewed stricter measures as a result of the second Corona wave, mobility has reduced again, especially among passers-by and users of public transport. "On the other hand, private transport will continue to grow," says Quintarelli, which has already brought additional high frequencies to the Clear Channel locations at the Coop Pronto shops throughout the year. "Customers who maintain their communication even in times of crisis benefit from DOOH," is his conviction. The medium impresses with its fast response options, maximum flexibility, short production processes and gives providers the opportunity to react quickly to changes with specific services and offers.
What concepts are DOOH providers using to respond to the fragile pandemic situation? Excom Media operates screens in the checkout area of around 500 Swiss pharmacies and drugstores, which are primarily intended to appeal to customers during waiting times. In Corona times, attention to the screens has tended to grow, for example when FOPH rules of conduct are shown or advertisements of medicines to strengthen the immune system are played. CEO Marc Goetti says Excom Media is currently focusing less on cities and more on neighborhood pharmacies for its planned expansion of sites. "In those, we're currently seeing a lot of increased customer traffic, which is related to the special time." More employees stay in their home offices and therefore do their shopping more often at home than in the city centre, for example.
Neo Advertising, which is showing solid growth in the DOOH segment, is also keeping a sharp eye on market developments. "Depending on the advertising environment, certain sectors are more affected by the current Corona development, including the transport sector with airports and public transport, as well as congress centres and leisure facilities," says COO Florian Maas. Other locations such as shopping centres or points of sale at petrol stations are hardly affected, and in some cases are even more heavily frequented than before. Maas is convinced that it is precisely in times like these that the entire communication process, from the advertiser to the communication agency, needs to be rethought. "You achieve more attention or effectiveness by linking the advertising message to the current situation." In other words: Away from conventional price communication towards positive, credible and solidary statements.
Neo Advertising has also been very active this year in terms of exploiting growth potential. Among other things, the company has built a new DOOH network in high-traffic locations in the city of Geneva. "We are also working flat out on a new network of screens in all 70 Let's Go Fitness stores," enthuses Maas. In this high-affinity advertising environment, a young, urban, sporty as well as young-at-heart target audience can be reached.
The other DOOH providers interviewed are also moving forward instead of in crisis mode. They have used the short Corona breather at Livesystems to programmatically connect all available screens and will make the offer available in the coming weeks, says Dragan Dojcinovic. In 2021, the CEO plans to go full throttle with his team. "We have been able to announce weighty additions to our portfolio in recent weeks and have been marketing the 'Post of the Future' since 1 January 2021," he explains. In around 270 post offices, one would generate over 450,000 contacts. In addition, Livesystems is digitising over 380 indoor and outdoor convenience locations across Switzerland, he added. "These will be ready for marketing by 2022 at the latest."
APGlSGA also relies on programmatic campaigns. In the summer of 2020, a programmatic campaign was developed and broadcast for Sanitas Health Insurance together with the Mediaschneider agency and the digital specialist Hoy, says Beat Holenstein of APGlSGA. "Based on socio-demographic data, defined timelines and targeted outreach around points of sale, the book 'Health Forecast - Die Gesundheit der Zukunft' was advertised programmatically," he explains. With success: the target groups were reached much more efficiently.
Something is happening in the DOOH market. Corona is unlikely to change the predicted growth of this booming advertising channel.
In conversation with Beat Holenstein, APG|SGA
"DOOH is the growth market par excellence".
m&k: The Corona crisis hit hard in the spring, then relief, now the second wave. Can DOOH advertising really escape these times?
Beat Holenstein: Even if frequencies should decline again in the meantime, the positive fundamental factors for analogue and digital outdoor advertising are very attractive and contemporary. On the one hand, out-of-home is the last "mass medium" that achieves high coverage within a short time, and on the other hand it offers enormously high location accuracy for national or local targeting of advertising messages.
Are you investing in the expansion of DOOH?
Yes, because digital out-of-home is the growth market par excellence. That is why we are also investing in the development of new products and technological solutions there. For example, APG|SGA's branding zones in major Swiss cities and railway stations are absolute benchmarks in Europe in terms of quality and impact. And of course, we offer cities and partners digital solutions that they can use for their own communication needs.
Do you have an example?
The panorama boards in the mountains are controlled by our CMS and show skiers which slopes are open or closed. Furthermore, the temperature or current information for guests can be displayed.
What are the innovations in programmatic DOOH playout?
An exciting topic. As already mentioned, location accuracy is generally an advantage in outdoor advertising. In programmatic campaigns, customers can use APG|SGA to control their content according to additional targeting options. This requires data, which we have from individual target groups, and we know with a high degree of probability which target groups move disproportionately strongly over the course of the day in defined time slots. Our programmatic campaign for Sanitas Insurance this summer is a successful example of this innovation.