Sight Lines

An active response to COVID-19 – How oOh!media is working through the pandemic

Sight Lines

An active response to COVID-19 – How oOh!media is working through the pandemic

As the crisis continues to grip travel markets and media audiences, oOh!media is doing what it can to support partners today while planning ahead for tomorrow.

As the impact of COVID-19 hits airports and airlines around the world, every week has brought a new set of circumstances that we in the media sector have never faced before, writes Chief Commercial and Product Officer Robbie Dery. In early March we saw flights reduced by -60%. Then within a matter of weeks state borders were shut, followed by terminals and lounges, until we reached a point where 95% of passenger flow had ceased. Australian national carrier Qantas stood down 20,000 employees virtually overnight, and the effect on media revenue pipeline was almost immediate.

As a media provider, our primary focus is to deliver defined audiences to brands. oOh! has been a pioneer in this space, and we’ve linked all 37,000+ of our advertising locations to over 500 different audience segments based on the transactions and movements of those who pass each site.

“It has been a time where dealing fairly and being supportive, understanding, optimistic and realistic has never been more important.”
oOh!media's Robbie Dery

Public service messaging displayed across the network in Australia before airport and airline shutdowns took effect

In normal times this tells the story of what that audience does via their purchase behaviour. We use mobile data to link specific audiences to location, but now, in this COVID-19 environment, we have turned our focus to urban, suburban and regional volumes of total audiences because the population, other than essential workers, has been asked to stay home. We can go to the supermarket and pharmacy, and we can exercise, but that’s about it. Spending more time out of home, for now, is a concept we are all craving.

Our teams have dedicated their time to relocating affected advertisers to the end of the year, or for those who wanted to keep advertising, to other locations in our portfolio where we could see via mobile data that they could still find their audiences, albeit requiring longer to reach the same quantity of people.

It has been a time where dealing fairly and being supportive, understanding, optimistic and realistic has never been more important. We know that brands, even those who seemingly are well positioned in this crisis, have their own issues to deal with. One of our largest department stores has seen +700% growth in online sales, yet shut 45 major stores nationally.

One of the globe’s largest online retailers doesn’t have the distribution channels to support demand, showing that no-one is immune to the challenges we are facing, not even online. Healthcare supplement companies whose products are flying off the shelves aren’t able to source their ingredients locally or from overseas, so supply is drying up. And subscription and broadcast TV are seeing unprecedented audience rises, yet all are reporting significant revenue and pipeline declines, resulting in employee stand downs, reductions in hours or job losses.

Some things remain unchanged though. Out of Home continues to be our national public noticeboard. We’re heartened to see media providers here and across the globe spreading messages of positivity and thanks, while reinforcing government guidelines and messaging to ensure public space media informs, engages, enhances and helps protect citizens’ lives.

After we saw our friends in New Zealand enforce a Level 4 lockdown, allowing citizens to leave only for essential activities such as getting food and some exercise, we saw the ‘National Bear Hunt’ initiative take off. It aimed to brighten children’s days when they are out on a walk with Mum and Dad, so we brought the concept to life across our street furniture and retail media networks.

After the success of the NZ ‘National Bear Hunt’ campaign, we launched our very own version in Australia across our digital street network. This campaign incorporates nine different creatives of playful bears which are not only randomised but also weather reactive, with the bears adopting sunnies or an umbrella depending on the forecast. The campaign highlights the versatility and agile nature of our digital assets, as well as how Out of Home continues to play a powerfully positive role within the community.

oOh!media recently joined Australia’s ‘National Bear Hunt’ campaign by displaying the images of eight different teddy bears across its 474 street panels nationwide

We’ve also partnered with ‘The Kindness Pandemic’ grassroots Facebook campaign to share uplifting stories of kindness from the Australian community across retail, rail and street networks around the country. The initiative has gained 100,000 new members each day, and continues to promote random acts of kindness, giving people practical support as well as some hope.

Additionally, we are also proudly supporting innovative initiatives from our airport partners. For example, to support its affected retailers, Brisbane Airport launched an online marketplace from concept to full ecommerce site in just 16 days, giving consumers access to hundreds of sought-after products at competitive prices. It’s this kind of smart thinking that is helping keep employees in jobs at an incredibly challenging time, and oOh! will use the scale of our network to support this fantastic initiative.

A sense of responsibility: Consumer messaging at Melbourne Airport before the airport and airline shutdowns in Australia

As we look forward, there will no doubt be a painful road to recovery – that we have seen our second largest airline Virgin Airlines, enter voluntary administration is evidence of this. While the harsh reality and impact of the virus reverberates through the sector, we are certain that when some level of normality returns and passenger numbers pick up domestically and globally, there will be a critical need to work with partners who understand and can monetise the value of the audiences returning to the airport environment.

Brands will by necessity be even more diligent and disciplined with their budgets, making their money work harder than ever. This process will require the effective use of high-quality third party data that supports the value of the audience and efficiency of its reach, as well partners who understand how to demonstrate this effectively – anything else is a risky proposition for airport concessions in the delicate economic environment of a post COVID-19 world.

Martin Ryan, Executive General Manager Consumer at Brisbane Airport, summed it up beautifully by commenting: “If necessity is the mother of invention, COVID-19 is its father.” I would add to this by saying that data is the wise grandfather.

oOh!media is a leading media company across Australia and New Zealand that creates deep engagement between people and brands through unmissable Out of Home advertising solutions. Our connected offline and online ecosystem makes brands unmissable across our diverse network of more than 37,000 locations across Australia and New Zealand helping brands connect with their audiences through powerful and integrated, cross-format campaigns. Our unparalleled reach combined with industry best data, insights, media planning tools and technological innovation gives advertisers an added layer of campaign intelligence. oOh! delivers the reach, optimisation, engagement and impact to connect and influence audiences anytime and anywhere.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine

Issue 279 | 4 May 2020

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 12 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

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