Colum Harmon, marketing director, with this week’s view from OOH.

30th April 2021

The Irish Open

Following the highly significant and wide-ranging government announcements last night regarding the reopening of society in the coming weeks, life is set to change for the better.

With May now upon us, opportunities for OOH advertisers are set to broaden dramatically and arrive quicker than perhaps anticipated. ‘The Path Ahead’ means that retail, leisure, and social environments will all be positively impacted in the very near future. Combined with improving weather and an ever-increasing vaccinated population, it adds up to more mobility, increasing numbers of people interacting with each other safely, a more positive mindset and higher levels confidence when out and about. Essentially, a wider and happier OOH audience. I’m sure we are all bursting for that freedom again.

As each week has passed, we have seen more and more significant changes in mobility and audience that are having positive implications for OOH advertisers.  Following the return of all schools, the expansion of our travel limit to 20KM and the opportunity to meet outdoors socially and play more sport, we have seen major increases in pedestrian and auto mobility in our towns and cities. It has also increased the frequency with which advertisers can engage consumers outdoors via increased touchpoints. Data laid out in this week’s Now Near Next speaks to some of these positive behavioural changes already happening.

These changes will become more pronounced as we enter May and a summer of fun and freedom that we so richly deserve. Bring it on!

Multiple mobility sources all reflect the step-change in people’s movement around the country in recent weeks. The seven-day average for Apple’s routing requests mobility data to Tuesday 27th April reports traffic has recovered to 88% of last year’s pre-pandemic baseline, exceeding parity over the weekend, with the clement weather together with relaxation of travel restrictions no doubt contributing.

This week has again seen the highest levels of traffic congestion in 2021 in Dublin, according to TomTom’s Traffic Index. Dublin’s congestion level averaged at 41% for the first four days. This means that a 30-minute trip during peak hours takes 12 minutes longer than it would during uncongested conditions, a 57% increase in delay time than that experienced during March.

TomTom Traffic

Last week’s national Locomizer mobility data, based on analysis of mobile phone location movements via anonymised app reporting, shows a +16% increase in the past fortnight to 72% of pre-pandemic levels. There has been sustained increase since mid-Feb from when it persisted in the low 40s.

Locomizer Mobility

And finally, Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Report supports the move to out of home environments from the start of the year. Duration spent at home has declined from +22% to +10% while visits to supermarkets and pharmacies has increased from -19% to +12%. Visits to parks and beaches shot up to +94% last Sunday.

Public Transport to Resume Full Schedule

As transport demand increases with the continuous lifting of restrictions, Dublin Bus and Irish Rail have announced the return to a full weekday schedule from next week.

Dublin Bus T-Side

The decision to return to a full schedule is to accommodate an increase in the number of customers using public transport within capacity restrictions. The National Transport Authority has reported a 29pc surge in demand for public transport since Easter.

Dublin Bus said it will operate a Monday to Friday timetable from May 4th, while Irish Rail will also resume its full schedule operations from Tuesday.  Public transport capacity will also double to 50% from May 10th.

Economic Pulse Close to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Bank of Ireland’s latest Economic Pulse shows an uptick in positive sentiment this month and now stands at 85.4. The index, which combines the results of the consumer and business pulses, was 11.8 higher than in March and up 51.1 on last April’s all-time low. As a result, the Economic Pulse is now fast approaching pre-pandemic levels.

BOI Economic Pulse

There was a large jump in business confidence this month. The Business Pulse increased 14.3 on last month and up 59.3 compared to a year ago to now stand at 88.9 for April.

Firms are more upbeat about activity and jobs, 53% of firms said they are anticipating a pick-up in business activity in the near term, while almost a quarter expect to employ more people.

The Consumer Pulse rose for a third month running to 71.7, up 1.9 on last month’s figure and 18.5 higher than a year ago. The bank reported households were more positive about the overall economy outlook and their own finances.  Buying sentiment has also improved, with those saying that they are holding out on spending easing to 42% from 61% during the first lockdown.

The share of consumers which consider it a good time purchase big ticket items like furniture and electrical goods also rose to 28%.

Looking Forward

A new extensive research study from Irish content marketing agency Zahra has uncovered local insights into consumers’ attitude on range of topics.

Zahra’s Q1 sentiment report, which included 4,191 participants, reveals the pandemic has changed many aspects of our life.  People seem to be enjoying a slower pace of life and are appreciating the simpler things. 40% of participants say more time spent with friends and family is an aspect of life they would like to keep after the pandemic.

The pandemic has had a positive impact on people’s relationship with homegrown suppliers. 72% of participants in the capital say a year of living with Covid-19 has led them to shop local more, with 37% spending more on groceries because they “need something to enjoy”.

The report suggests the pandemic has been beneficial to our physical and mental health and the time down has encouraged people in Dublin to exercise more. Almost half (44%) say they are more active since the pandemic began, with 84% stating exercise has had a positive impact on helping to maintain mental health this year.

Looking to the summer ahead, of those who plan to spend on travel, 40% intend to explore what Ireland has to offer.

Commenting on the research, Gina Miltiadou, MD and Co-Founder of Bray-based content marketing agency Zahra said: “As the country looks forward to the loosening of restrictions, now is the time for businesses to use content as a means to re-engage, build and create human connections.”

And, finally…..

Speaking to The Week In Politics on RTÉ last weekend An Taoiseach Micheál Martin succinctly put the where the emphasis lies for the coming months when he said that the ‘summer is outdoor’ and that the ‘outdoor theme is critical’. Couldn’t have put it better ourselves….