What is the impact of ‘Freedom Day’ on outside UK ad sales – and can it last?


The display’s advertisers were expecting a surge of activity (in England at least) at the half-hearted launch of the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ – on Monday July 19 – which rolled back some of the restrictions Covid-19 that the public has endured. Last year. For advertisers, this theoretically meant more footfall and some customers were coming back to spend. The Drum looks at how brands have shifted gears.

Transport for London (TfL) recently best summed up the AOH enthusiasm to see those ridership levels return after a lax year of reduced travel where inventory upgrades suddenly took hold. He’s not the only one anticipating a return to fortune – but will the industry soon return to pre-lockdown levels? No [per IPA Bellwether], but here’s what industry executives are saying they’re seeing.

Positive return

Luke Willbourn, customer manager at Talon Outdoor, says he’s seeing a “really positive return to the brands market throughout the summer” due to the fact that two-thirds of adults are now fully vaccinated and ‘They are confident for a return to the entertainment, retail and travel sectors – which in turn will inspire more ad spend.

However, the outdoor media mix is ​​changing. Willbourn says digital OOH revenue is around 60% at Talon and growing, but adds, “Traditional sites remain crucial as we find audiences that are still active locally. “

The problem with these static sites is that the deadlines are three to four months, so those who use them really have to plan for it. And it has been a difficult time to do.

At the root of the most recent spike in spending in what was once struggling media, it’s understandable that the FMCG, drinks, cars, media, tech and now travel brands are leading the way. And to come, the return of hospitality will have an impact.

“We’re also now uniquely positioned to deliver technology and data advancements for integrated media targeting alongside online advertising as brands seek to reconnect with their audiences. We generate results-driven campaigns and creativity, and truly reach audiences as they emerge from lockdown. “

Change of budget?

Jonny Whitehead, director of the Skyrise Intelligence board, says he expects OOH budgets to increase over the next six months.

He says: “The first few months will be interesting, as some companies will move to a hybrid model of work at home and in the office, but we are already seeing an increase in commuting, and with an increasingly moving audience, brands are going to have to integrate digital OOH into their marketing mix.

Buyers use anonymized mobile network data only to track the volume of traffic to these out-of-home sites so that advertisers can “identify the optimal times and places to reach an audience based on down-to-the-minute travel patterns, and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns like never before ”.

And, as Whitehead claims, it all works without “the use of first-party or third-party identifiers,” which will increase its appeal to some companies who are scratching their heads over the state of privacy and online advertising. line.

Predict behavior

Amy Jackson, chief commercial officer of digital advertising agency Incubeta, is tasked with determining what consumer behavior will look like after Freedom Day. After all, there are concerns that the nation is “opening up” too soon, and there are frivolous debates about the merits of wearing a mask – something many companies have had to take a stand on.

“It is clear that consumer confidence has been on the rise for an extended period now, and while caution in returning to stores is a concern, retailers are starting to produce solid brick and mortar numbers.”

Jackson is cautious, aware that Freedom Day may not be such a thing and another lockdown could bite, despite rising vaccination levels.

“We can’t underestimate how quickly plans can change and how quickly we could get back into a lockdown. Main Street depends on getting people back to the office, but Freedom Day has a dark cloud for many brands as ultimately the transition to Main Streets will be slow. She advocates an omnichannel strategy that works even if Freedom Day fails.

Wider effects

The question is, what happens to all of these behaviors that we have built up during lockdowns? Mike Campbell, adtech director for agencies and brands at Xandr, believes programmatic growth will slow: “The immediate need for consumers to go online will be gone, but higher digital adoption rates will continue. “

He believes those who are now “done with Netflix” “will expect on-demand TV on any device in the future,” which opens up a lot of options in the CTV space.

During this time, the people themselves have changed and moved. “Those who have moved out of the cities and bought houses in the suburbs will not be rushing into the studios – so those who target their advertising at large millennial segments may find their audience less interested as they now behave more like the audience. of Generation X. “

This, together with the remote work arrow, means that “OOH will not recover overnight”. That’s why he focused on real-time information and smarter campaigns targeting those who stay in urban areas.

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