OOH traffic sees slight lift as vendors try to be flexible with value

Toronto's traffic remains very low, but there are signs of lifts to come in markets like Vancouver and Calgary.
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After a rocky March, the second edition of the Novus COVID-19 geo-mobile study shows that the month of April saw some stabilization in OOH traffic, although it’s still drastically low compared to pre-COVID activity, with some categories remaining down by 54% to 97%. However, when comparing traffic trend week-over-week, most locations are stable or even trending in the positive direction.

The first study covered up to the end of March, whereas the current study covers April in its entirety.

The agency expects to see meaningful improvement in the next report, especially in markets where new daily COVID cases have steadily declined, such as Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Exposure to many traditional OOH media placements continues to be significantly impacted, however as the data has shown, traffic trends are stable compared to March and increases are expected when self-isolation rules start to loosen. A trend in the positive direction can already be seen in cities like Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton where new COVID-19 cases have steadily declined.

In Toronto, however, vehicle and foot traffic in the selected highway, airport, mall and downtown areas remain steady over the past few weeks with no significant uptick. For example, the Yorkdale Shopping Centre’s traffic is still down 87% from the benchmark, Pearson International Airport’s down 91%, and even outdoor pedestrian areas like Queen Street down 84%. This trend could continue into May because of the extension of the lockdown orders.

In Montreal, road traffic has increased by 10 points since the beginning of April. While Montreal has a higher case count, Quebec has taken a more accelerated approach to some aspects of reopening, including sending students back to school. The upticks are most notable on highways, such as the Jacques Cartier Bridge, which is 10 percentage points higher than it was at its lowest (nearly 80% less than the benchmark in early April). Highway traffic is also now 61% less than the benchmark after reaching nearly 80% below benchmark several weeks prior). Pedestrian traffic has seen a very subtle lift but is still 86% less than the benchmark, while mall, airport and transit hub traffic remains unchanged and very low.

Vancouver is experiencing a slight bump in traffic on pedestrian streets and roads. During the week of April 5, Calgary saw the lowest levels of traffic, but there have been small weekly increases since then. For vehicular traffic, Edmonton was the least affected among measured regions.

Novus says that OOH vendors have been supportive in providing compensation value for missed impressions on active campaigns. The compensation amount is evaluated campaign by campaign. The vendors have also reduced the cancellation period to 30 days from 90 days on new bookings for 2020 and are being very flexible with respect to shifting start dates for booked campaigns.

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