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Effects of COVID-19 on OOH Advertising in Nigeria

Corona Virus Effects on Advertising in Nigeria

By Femi Adenekan


It is no news that the hardest hit media channel is the Out-of-home (OOH) media as the OOH ad spending has felt a negative impact worldwide as a result of the pro-social distancing and isolation measures that have emerged across countries including Nigeria leading consumers actively avoiding large public places and gatherings, and have impacted advertisers’ willingness to advertise in those places as well due to low exposure. 

Ripple Effects of the Pandemic

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, OOH especially the Digital OOH had been enjoying an incredible run. However, the outdoor advertising venture came to a screeching halt as the lockdown in major cities including Lagos that accounts for over 55% of OOH ad spend. This trend no doubt is bound to affect the projected N47.2Billion billings by the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) for the year. As a result, advertisers are slashing or pulling budgets, canceling or reducing campaigns, diverting billions to other platforms and forcing media owners to review their media business models.


How are brands reacting?

A majority of brands have completely shut down or suspended outdoor advertising campaign due to the growing uncertainty of when the pandemic will be over and everyone can go back to their regular lives leading to the brands diverting resources to other platforms including online and TV platforms.

Notable advertisers that have suspended pulled out of outdoor advertising include Coca Cola which stated that the company will be halting all commercial OOH advertising of Coca Cola and all its other brands in the country.

Goldberg Stay Strong Campaign against Coronavirus

Goldberg Stay Strong Campaign against Coronavirus

While some are halting their campaigns, others are using the opportunity to identify with the consumers in the trying times of the pandemic such as the Goldberg OOH “Stay Strong” campaign on static billboards in strategic locations and malls; Airtel converted its Digital OOH assets to push awareness of the disease in solidarity with their customers.


How are Media Owners Reacting?

Nigerian outdoor media businesses are unarguable the most affected in the surge of the pandemic in the advertising mix. While almost all of the Digital LEDs are shut down as a result of the high cost of maintenance coupled with the cancellation of ongoing and planned outdoor campaigns by major brands, majority of the static boards are either blank or currently have old materials of some brands captured by TMKG during routine monthly OOH audit in March 2020. This is an indication of reduced outdoor advertising.

Blank Digital LED at Oshodi Lagos

Blank Digital LED at Oshodi Lagos

Blank Digital LED at Falomo Lagos Blank Digital LED at CMS Lagos

However, despite the negative impact of the pandemic on their businesses, some of these media owners are keeping their brand visible by providing support for the COVID 19 cause through the use of their highly rated digital billboards to increase awareness of the disease and disseminate critical information around Nigeria in a bid to promote their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Following this trend, other OOH media owners are supporting small businesses badly impacted by the lockdown in Nigeria with frees exposures on the agencies’ iconic Billboard located in Lagos, in a bid to help in stimulating the growth of the small business.


Taking the Consumers Outdoors

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is impacting and changing every part of the lives of an average consumer, from the places they cannot visit to the way they now spend their time, to their emerging priorities and the way they spend their money.

This trend has forced brands to become be flexible and agile to adjust to the shift in media consumption and entertainment sources to communicate and engage with the consumer, giving the customer the opportunity to explore what they would normally experience outside their four walls of their homes.

We have now seen the effects of the Coronavirus disease on different industries and marketing efforts, but how will advertisers and media owners adjust? With less revenue, businesses are cutting down on their advertising to save money or “survive the storm”. However, we feel this will be only a brief downtime and businesses will go back to advertising once the pandemic begins to decline.

There is no doubt that the COVID 19 pandemic has not only left its mark in history, but it has also fundamentally shaken the advertising industry and how brands cook up their marketing mix to meet their target consumers where they are – the question is rather how much impact the ripple effects will have on the out-of-home industry even after the eventual of the epidemic.