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Five Out-of-home advertising trends to watch out for in 2021

2021 is going to be a big year for out-of-home advertising — but how can you make sure your brand stands out and makes the right impression? At Vertical Impression, we have identified five key trends in out-of-home advertising that are set to define the year.

February 4, 2021

And just like that, 2021 is here! If you’re sitting there wondering how the heck we got here so fast, don’t worry, you’re not alone! We have been wondering the same thing…

Last year was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. In many ways, we’re going to be riding that rollercoaster for some time yet, since many of the challenges we faced in 2020 have followed us into 2021.

Though our 2020 problems haven’t gone away, we’re also taking the lessons we learned from 2020 with us into 2021. In fact, we’re heading into 2021 armed to the teeth with new knowledge, strategies and tools that will help make this year a roaring success!

The world of marketing may never get back to the way it was in the distant past (by that, we mean... 2019), but that’s OK.

Change is good. Change brings opportunities.

So, what opportunities await us in the world of out-of-home advertising (OOH) this year? How can we use our newfound knowledge to carve a path to success?

Looking at the trends of last year and projections for this year, it’s obvious that 2021 is going to be a great year for OOH marketing.

Looking back at 2020

In early 2020, Nielson commissioned a report on consumer travel patterns and engagement with out-of-home advertising.

  • Over half of those surveyed (consumers 16 or older) reported they used public transport in the past 30 days. 
  • 85% had traveled by private vehicle.
  • Over 60% reported walking around their local town or city area.
  • Nearly 60% had flown in the past 12 months.
  • Over 1 in 10 had flown in the past 30 days.

Remember, this data is from early 2020, before lockdowns had become the norm for millions in North America and around the world. So, these are the figures that we expect to return to very soon. These are the facts we will be working with.

This means there were (and will soon be again) millions of sets of eyes on planes, trains, automobiles, and sidewalks — a massive, ready-made, captive audience.

But how many of these people actually notice or engage with out-of-home advertising?

Well, 62% of respondents said they had noticed OOH marketing in the past month, and 38% within the past week.

Of this “OOH aware” group, 50% said they notice digital billboards “all” or “most” of the time.

Now, here is the really important bit. Among this group of human beings who notice and engage with OOH marketing, over a third (34%) of them searched for and visited the company website after seeing a digital billboard. 32% of them physically visited the advertised store or business after seeing an OOH ad.

Among other engagements with OOH advertising were watching the advertised movie or show, recommending the product or brand, and attending the advertised event.

All in all, 65% of those who viewed OOH advertising engaged with it in some way. When was the last time you got 65% engagement on an email, flyer, or digital ad?

5 out-of-home advertising trends to watch out for in 2021

Looking at the data from early 2020 and seeing how behavior patterns changed throughout 2020, we have identified 5 exciting trends in out-of-home advertising that you should keep an eye on this year.

digital signage

1. Customers hitting the streets again

People have been cooped up in their homes for so long, and they’re dying to get outside. They will take almost any opportunity to leave their home, and when they do, they open themselves up to the world of OOH marketers like you.

We have previously reported how, though foot traffic in commercial areas plummeted during lockdown, foot traffic around residential areas recovered very quickly. This is part of the reason why our residential elevator advertising has been so valuable to our clients this past year.

We expect commercial foot traffic to bounce back very soon, too, perhaps even surpassing pre-pandemic levels once life returns to normal (or a close approximation at least).

Your potential audience for OOH marketing is likely to be bigger than ever this year.


2. Brands utilizing tech in their OOH advertising

Tech has helped to revolutionize OOH advertising. It has been instrumental in creating some of the most effective and immersive campaigns ever. Swarovski’s festive digital campaign a few years ago allowed shoppers to create and send a Christmas wish list to friends and family. UK supermarket giant Tesco let shoppers know the best deals and exactly where they could find them, including distance to the nearest store.

Expect this trend to continue in 2021. If over 30% of people are visiting websites or stores after seeing digital billboards, you can bet that brands are going to be pouring investment into marketing tech.

What will we see this year? 3D billboards? Interactive screens that people can connect to with their cell phones and display messages? Whatever the next innovation is, make sure you’re not left behind by your competitors.

digital billboard

3. Increasing use of digital advertising

Of course, digital advertising and tech go hand-in-hand, so you can expect to see increasing numbers of digital billboards, digital posters and other variations of smart screen technology being used to capture the imagination of audiences all over the country.


4. Big data’s role in OOH advertising

They say a campaign is only as good as its targeting. And by “they,” we mean “we”!

At Vertical Impression, we are always meticulous when it comes to targeting. You’ll be surprised how precise you can be when targeting your out-of-home advertising with us. It’s very similar to the granular targeting you’d expect from other digital marketing efforts.

This is another area you should be focusing on this year — leveraging your existing data to improve the performance of your campaigns. Brands that can grasp and utilize their data effectively will enjoy success from their OOH campaigns throughout 2021.


5. Record levels of engagement

We have said it before, but it bears repeating. We are coming out of one of the weirdest years in living memory, and people are desperate to move on.

They are craving interaction and connection. Brands can provide this interaction with smart out-of-home advertising campaigns that are personal and helpful to their audience.

OOH, marketing is already one of the best performing avenues in terms of engagement, and as people tentatively venture out into the world again, they will seek comfort in the familiar.

Marketing that seems personal, familiar, and thoughtful will drive customers’ desire to engage with it, and brands that can tap into this desire for comfort will be the ones who find the most success this year.

This is really only the tip of the iceberg of what’s going to be possible with out-of-home advertising this year. For more insights and to learn how you can take advantage of the opportunities 2021 has to offer, reach out to us at Vertical Impression and find out how we can help.

Start planning a smarter campaign today.