OOH and Small Business Go Together – Now More than Ever


For decades, Out-of-Home (OOH) and small business have been the most steadfast of partners with the majority of OOH ads being sold to promote local businesses. This powerful, enduring partnership has taken on new and vital meaning during the current COVID-19 crisis. For the past several weeks, the OOH and DOOH industry has been doing their parts to promote and sustain small businesses across America that are keeping their lights on to keep us safe, fed, and clothed. In fact, while the industry is encountering significant shifts, many advertisers remain engaged and visible in their markets, relying on OOH media to communicate essential messages and adjusting their messaging to reflect the times.

There are three main reasons why OOH media is proving especially relevant to small businesses during COVID-19:

  • OOH can change creative on a dime, faster and more efficiently than most other media, which is all the more important given that the production facilities for most media are currently shuttered;
  • OOH is helping promote other essential businesses;
  • We are helping drive customers to struggling businesses in local communities around the country.

In Duluth, Minnesota, when the first outlines of the COVID-19 crisis came into view, the local OOH manager knew what to do:  immediately contact restaurant clients to change their copy.

Across the country, OOH copy changed to “We Deliver,” and “We’re Open.” In Florida, a grocer declared that it was hiring on digital billboards. Marketplace demand for change of copy showcased OOH as a nimble medium, with little or no time needed for “production.”

OOH is Essential to Small Businesses and Our Communities

The building blocks for designating OOH media as essential include our role in communicating for other essential businesses and for governments at all levels, including localities.

The current list of essential businesses include retail businesses that account for many of OOH’s most important customers – from dry cleaners and hardware and convenience stores to pharmacies and marijuana dispensaries.

As for our partnership with federal, state and local governments, OOH’s essential role has been evident in communities everywhere in recent weeks, helping keep the public informed about how to stay safe and access critical resources.

Clear Channel billboard pic

Our medium can change on a dime, it communicates for other essential businesses, and it plays a significant part in fostering local communities.

The OAAA is proud of our work to help the OOH industry support small businesses and the communities that sustain them as well as our efforts to help OOH earn the designation as an essential business. But there’s much more to do.

As we continue our work helping member companies navigate today‘s stimulus opportunities, OAAA is already looking ahead, making plans to help the industry capture the business opportunity when the crisis abates. I am confident of the path ahead for the industry despite these challenging times, and I am certain that the relationship with small businesses and OOH is going to play a big part in the better days ahead.

About Author

Anna Bager is president and CEO of the Out of Home Advertising Association of America.

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