The potential impact of COVID-19 on OOH, by the numbers

A new report by IMI gives insight into just how quiet it could get on transit, at festivals and at the movies.

Media, OOH and entertainment companies already knew they could expect things to get a little quiet over the coming weeks and months.

Now, a new report by IMI gives an insight into just how quiet it could get.

IMI has surveyed 15,000 people in multiple markets since the biggest onslaught of COVID-19 news. It conducted its first study — which surveyed people 13 years and older — on March 1. But between then and what it calls “wave two” (March 13) there has been a myriad of event cancellations, sports suspensions and retail closures, and IMI’s data indicates that behaviour among Canadians is changing rapidly.

In the first round of surveys, two-thirds of Canadians said they planned to change their behaviour overall. Now that’s up to 70% of respondents.

One of those behaviours is using public transit. In this survey, 25% of Canadians reported that they are highly unlikely to use public transit regularly in the next three months, which is an increase of nine percentage points from the last survey at the beginning of March.

Additionally, 21% of Canadians have added outdoor festivals and gatherings to their “highly unlikely list,” up eight percentage points. And, 26% of Canadians say they’re highly unlikely to go to sporting events, up 12 percentage points from the last time out. The cohort of Canadians who are less likely to go to movies has increased, but not by much; 15% of people say they’re unlikely to go, up two percentage points.

In addition, global firm eMarketer has dialled back its ad spend predictions amidst the crisis, although some firms, such as GroupM and Dentsu, had already pulled back on growth predictions earlier in the year due to other economic factors. Most in the industry have determined that OOH spending will see a reduction due to fewer impressions, with Dentsu’s Nicole Brown estimating that the impact of fewer placements will likely be felt in six to eight weeks (and to start seeing a notable difference by mid-April) due to buying timelines.

Globally, people predict that coronavirus will no longer be a concern by July 30; Canadians are playing it more conservative with an average predicted end date of August, according to IMI.