Five principles for effective OOH planning

Emma Withington, Executive Director, Head of Planning, discusses the key takeaways our partners at Talon shared during their ‘Welcome back to OOH’ presentation for effective OOH planning.

Five principles for effective OOH planning

This week, our partners at Talon shared with us some important updates on the OOH market, reminding us that whilst times have been tough for the OOH industry, now is the time to start thinking about how we integrate posters back into our plans.

Despite not being regularly out of our homes for the last few weeks, the ‘opportunity to see’ still exists. People have still been leaving their homes, albeit less frequently and for different reasons.

And there have been some fantastic examples of advertisers who saw an opportunity to use OOH despite the fall in consumption, whether that be as a public noticeboard or a way to deliver a tongue in cheek message at scale or a way to make a statement for their brand;


Now, as lockdown begins to be lifted, people are starting to get back to some sort of normality. Travel patterns are gradually resuming with last week (w/c 18th – 25th May) showing an increase of 4% in traffic on the roads, up to 71% of the normal volume. Equally, Rail and Underground usage is also increasing at 3% and 2% respectively week on week.

With this return to our regular routines and a higher volume of people on the streets, the question arises: what does this mean for OOH planning?

There are five principles for planning through this period which apply to all channels but are of particular relevance to OOH.

  1. Empathy. Never has it been so important for us to understand the different and diverse circumstances that people have found themselves in. Understanding people’s changing world means robust analysis of the countless data sources that are available to us to ensure that the planning of media and message is as relevant as it can be for the people we want to talk to. For OOH, this means analysing journey data to anticipate patterns of travel as people become more mobile. For example, identifying tried and tested journeys to the supermarket vs. revisiting the school run for specific types of families. It means considering the communities that our sites are located in and what has happened to those communities, whether they are struggling or flourishing, whether they are full of key workers or international students desperately missing home. All these things can power our advertising to deliver the most relevant and effective communications possible.


  1. Share of Voice. As advertising begins to pick up again, brands will increasingly face competition for stand out. OOH has always been a sure-fire way to create impact and visibility. Through close monitoring of category investment into the channel, along with smart use of location data, we can plan for standing out above the competition, whether that is supporting national re-launches or local shop openings, there are ways and means by which we can use OOH to raise the profile and visibility of a brand.


  1. Balance. As pressure to recoup lost sales mounts and advertisers look to advertising to fill that gap, the need for our media to deliver through the funnel will be of utmost importance. OOH has always been regarded as a brand building medium and it should continue to do that. However, with the acceleration of digital channel usage alongside the reliance on e-commerce, there is more opportunity for OOH to drive users directly to online purchase. Smart integration of OOH and digital experience can enable us to drive not only top-of-funnel metrics but also generate direct sales and action.


  1. Agility. Like many other channels, the OOH industry has nobly risen to the challenge of Covid-19, allowing advertisers to react to the changing landscape with cancellations and deferments with little or no penalties. Hopefully, this period is now past us and we can start to look ahead. With the increase in digital infrastructure, the ability to react, change and adapt our activity at short notice is a reality for a channel that once operated in 2-week windows and 3-month lead times. Quick and sensitive activation means we can incorporate ‘planned reactivity’ into our campaigns to ensure that we can prepare for different scenarios and give reassurance to advertisers who may be cautious about committing in these turbulent times.


  1. Creativity. Perhaps the most important principle for the coming months is creativity. By this, we don’t mean the big, sexy special builds or the showstopping installations at Westfield because whilst these have their role, the truer role for creativity right now is to tackle every marketing challenge with insight, innovation and fresh thinking. To create things that make people stop and take notice, either because they are personally relevant, because they serve a specific purpose or just because they are really clever.


Applying these principles to our planning will help us to deliver smart, innovative and, above all, effective campaigns. OOH has always offered the opportunity to do this and now more than ever I believe the industry will rise to this challenge and in the coming months, we will see some amazing work.


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