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Trouble on the Web: Could Online Ad Dollars Be Going to OOH?

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by Sarah Druhan, OOH TODAY Journalist

For years, we’ve been conditioned to think of the Internet as the ‘future’ of advertising. But there’s no denying it: the realm of virtual marketing is going through some of its roughest patches in years.

Long-enduring social media platform Facebook’s stock limped through an October characterized by unforeseen instability. This sharp decline is sparked by an exposed weak ad model and by markets’ reluctance about the virtual reality ‘Metaverse,’ something CEO Zuckerberg is pumping billions into with very little payoff on the horizon. And of course, it would be remiss to not bring up Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter. Marketers have spent the past couple weeks jumping ship from the popular microblogging platform, citing concerns that the new CEO’s hands-off approach to content moderation will cause more advertising issues than not—as well as that his position as chief executive of Tesla Inc may act as a conflict of interest.

As these issues continue coming to very publicized light, it’s hard for us to not be reminded of OOH’s greatest strengths. The physicality of out-of-home advertisements typically makes issues of bots or technical bugs impossible. Targeting and analytics have seen vast improvement in the field over the past couple years. And with the power of digital out-of-home, even features such as video and moving animation are now well within reach.

This all begs the questions: are online ad dollars going to start flowing in OOH’s direction by default? Should the out-of-home industry be awaiting an inevitable, thunderous victory? When web advertising loses, does OOH automatically stand to gain?

Getting Down to ItThe idea of OOH being able to kick its feet up and wait for the dollars to roll in is certainly a tempting one. But unfortunately, the answers to these questions are probably never going to be that simple.

The difference between OOH and online isn’t day-and-night. Just because advertisers are pulling out from online platforms doesn’t mean they’re abandoning online for good. At the end of the day, clients are going to go with the most creative campaign for the job. And innovation comes in all different shades, whether that’s on a phone touchscreen or on the side of a bus stop. So no, recent Internet meltdowns alone may not be enough to send brands running to OOH—no matter how disastrous.

But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a crucial time for out-of-home marketers to strike. Tap into all the parts of OOH that differentiate the industry from anything you can find on the Internet—you know them, you love them, they’re why you chose this business in the first place. Pour all the creative juices you have into any upcoming campaigns. That way, in these pivotal few weeks as companies start to cast their gaze from huge corporations like Twitter and Facebook, they might just see your work first. OOH creatives may never be living on easy street, but so be it: if there’s always going to be competition, you may as well let it drive you.

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