Moving through the Pandemic: OOH Market in NY

As New York moves through the phases of the COVID -19 pandemic, the OOH market in this metropolitan city is changing to adapt to new challenges. NY is home to a diverse range of OOH formats, including the iconic Times Square displays. But without heavy foot traffic, these static billboards are going unnoticed. 

Before the pandemic, out-of-home advertising was seeing continuous growth beyond 2020, as the advertising market was predicted to grow to $865 billion USD by 2024. However, COVID-19 has forced many businesses to revaluate advertising spending.  

According to Brian Rappaport, the CEO of advertising agency Quan, now is the perfect time to think about OOH strategies. Besides billboards, there are tons of other avenues for OOH advertising, from kiosks in grocery stores to car-top signs.

Challenges with Advertising in New York

As consumer behaviour changes during quarantine, advertising must adjust. Brands want to increase sales and build loyalty, which is all done through effective advertising. In NYC, it typically costs around $375,000 for 570 cars on the subway. This is a costly form of advertising during a time when few people are taking public transit. 

A picture of the NY subways during the pandemic, showing how empty the cars are.

Out-of-home advertising struggled earlier this year when NY became a pandemic epicentre. But companies are now focusing on using OOH formats in different ways. 

Consumer Mobility 

Quarantine has decreased the exposure of many OOH advertisements in some areas. For example, consumer mobility in New York has dropped significantly, between 30 to 70 percent, due to few commuters and no tourists. 

However, consumers continue to drive and visit places like grocery stores and gas stations. Mobile billboards, such as truck-side advertisements or car-top signs are a part of a new trend that is here to stay and is able to reach specific audience by travelling distinct routes. 

During this unique period of time, businesses are becoming more open-minded and willing to change strategies, making way for a new era of OOH formats. Post-COVID, many businesses will implement different OOH campaigns, that prioritize survival.  

Current OOH Media in New York 

As New Yorkers slowly start to lift quarantine measures, the city has used OOH ads to remind citizens to remain vigilant in order to keep themselves and others safe. They’ve created thousands of colourful transit posters that read, “Stop the spread. It’s up to us, New York.”. From this it’s clear OOH is an effective way to market any message to large audiences.

A colourful transit poster that reads, "Stop the spread. It's up to us, New York."

Moving Forward

Out-of-home advertising will continue to grow due to the advantages it offers. OOH is able to reach a larger audience on a much broader scale – something other traditional media fall short on. Due to the size of some of these advertisements, they are simply harder to miss or skip over. 

In NY, the OOH market will be on an upwards trajectory in the near future. As people begin to enjoy the outdoors more, there will be more attention given to OOH messages.

Overall, we will see a technological shift in this market to be better equipped to deal with situations like this in the future. 

Although OOH is an older industry, by integrating newer digital features and technology, this medium remains powerful. Ocean Neuroscience conducted research which supported that consumers are 48% more likely to click on a mobile ad after first being exposed to the same ad in OOH format. OOH will continue to build connections with communities as New York emerges from quarantine.  

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, New York is a hotspot for OOH media, due to heavy foot traffic and especially, the high-impact billboards in Times Square. This pandemic did originally hit the NY OOH market hard, but as the industry continues to adapt, companies are learning how to adjust. With NY emerging from this period of uncertainty, OOH advertising is predicted to have upwards growth. This medium is able to engage a wide variety of audiences in a more powerful way, which is why it is not going anywhere anytime soon. Instead, the market will experience a technological shift while utilizing other forms of OOH to promote important messages. 

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