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Google Mobility Report Signals Hope for OOH Advertising in Nigeria

By Femi Adenekan

Many advertisers have either cut their budgets or suspended advertising on the media platform due to the stay at home order imposed by the government as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a report recently released by Google to help understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mobility of persons within communities with data obtained from its continuous tracking.

The Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report provides insights into the changes in response to stay at home orders, lockdown, social distancing, and other measures taken to flatten the curve of the pandemic.

To achieve this, the Google used “aggregated and anonymized” data to detail movement trends over time. The data cuts across different categories of places including residences, parks, transit stations, retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, and workplaces.

The report compares activities in high impact areas from March 21 through May 25th to a baseline before the onset of lockdown (January 3 through February 6).

Google Community Mobility Trend Pre and Post Lockdown in Lagos

Movement During Lockdown

On March 30th, the federal government of Nigeria announced the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states including the FCT while some other state governments followed suit by also restricting movement in their respective states.

The mobility trends for Lagos from the Google data indicated that on average, Lagosians cut down activities at retail and recreation spots, parks, and transit stations by about 60% in April. This reduces the possibility of any ads in malls or other areas being seen.

The Transit trend shows that there was some movement which was accounted for as a result of exemptions given only for food shopping, health-related trips, and other essential services.

Partial Lockdown Lifting

Some of the cities where the total lockdown was imposed such as Lagos that was largely empty during the lockdown, were busy again with cars, buses and tricycle taxis as large groups of people often gathered by the road waiting for public transport as businesses and other activities gradually began to operate. This trend correlates with the data obtained from Google showing a spike in transit.

Covid 19 - Lagos Community Mobility Trend (15th February - 25thMay 2020)

Lagos Community Mobility Trend during COVID-19 Lockdown

Hope rising for outdoor advertising

With the partial lifting of the lockdown commencing on the 4th of May, movement has gradually started to return outdoors, providing advertisers and OOH media owners with new hope of the possibility of OOH advertising bouncing back as the industry slowly recovers from the pandemic.

Overall, many other cities in Nigeria are on the rebound with driving and walking traffic on the rise while mass transit continues its flatline, as people slowly begin to move out of their homes to return to their daily activities.

How can brands take advantage?

Looking beyond lockdowns in the face of the widespread fear of downturn of the OOH advertising business, the pandemic has albeit presented a few opportunities that brands can leverage to kickstart or maintain their OOH share of voice.

Leveraging falling costs. With the cancellation or suspension of advertising campaigns as a result of cut in ad budgets by most brands, there has been a spike in the number of vacant boards. This presents the opportunity for the post-pandemic first movers to get better deals, as media owners discount to sell inventory. They face daunting challenges including rent, regulatory fees and other bills which accrue whether they sell or not.

Competition for prime or scarce inventory. Prime inventory that are often scarce and booked ahead in years by bigger brands may be available. Savvy advertisers are contacting major media owners to book iconic holding sites such as airports and parks now, taking advantage of the wide barrage of cancellations across the OOH industry in Nigeria and worldwide. This provides them with the leverage to secure quality inventory at fantastic deals, along with added value.

A Nigerian Airport

A Nigerian Airport

Programmatic Advertising. By leveraging data and technology, programmatic Digital Out of Home or ‘pDOOH’  facilitates the capacity to deliver contextually relevant messages anytime by providing advertisers the ability to make rapid changes in creative messaging and the flexibility that allows for dynamic placement of OOH campaigns. Brands can better plan the timing and duration of exposure of ads, thereby improving budget management.

An engaging Digital OOH communication

An engaging Digital OOH communication


To adapt to changing consumer, brands that develop OOH content thoughtfully or communicate  in an engaging way during and after this crisis have an opportunity to stand out by being smart with their creativity.

As available data now shows, despite the current effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing belief that the OOH industry will bounce back as things gradually return to a new normal. People will be back out on the streets again, and we would once again connect with the eyeballs. We only need to renew our way of thinking and doing the business.


See the full report from Google here.