Growing up in the suburbs of Mississauga, I always loved when we would drive into the city along the Gardiner. While trips into Toronto were always fun, I loved the big billboards that were sprinkled along the highway. At the time, we didn’t really have these roadside boards in Mississauga, and it was always something special I associated with Toronto.
Years later I would attend my first ‘Out of Home Day’ and get indoctrinated into the world of outdoor advertising. A great benefit of being involved with the AdClub has always been learning about sectors of our industry in which I previously had no involvement. Over the years, I learned a great deal about OOH and met many of the wonderful people who help to get ads on screens at your local mall, airport or even corner store. Unfortunately, over the past year, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the OOH sector. Stay-at-home orders led to people staying in their local neighbourhoods, not travelling around and seeing all of the regular OOH advertising. Budgets were cut and I watched fellow AdClub board and committee members, as well as industry friends, slog through a very difficult year.
It was with this in mind that I was very excited by the data that was released in our recent OOH special presentation. Regardless of whether you work in OOH, the event contains fascinating data on how COVID-19 has affected our society and typical behaviour. There is also lots of important data indicating that people are traveling again, commuting to jobs and returning to their pre-pandemic behaviours. What is particularly interesting is the finding that ‘white-collar’ office workers who are still working from home make up only a small percentage of the workforce. All of the retail, service, and healthcare staff are all working normally again and making daily commutes to their jobs. I’ve personally noticed this increase in travel through the amount of traffic I’ve sat in this summer. So much for the open roads during the early days of the pandemic.
Now as my trips along the Gardiner have become more frequent (mainly travelling to Mississauga to see my parents), I still enjoy seeing who’s advertising on the large boards. I also hope I’m somehow ‘doing my part’ in travelling by these big boards and counting as another set of eyeballs. Regardless, let’s hope that this new research helps the OOH industry bounce back and return to its former glory.