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Year In Review: Out-of-Home's Big Moment



Lucy Markowitz

Vistar Media leader, Lucy Markowitz, speaks to The Advertising Club of New York about out-of-home over the past year & what the industry can expect in 2021.

How have your priorities/goals shifted from the start of 2020?

Prior to the pandemic, OOH was experiencing major growth. This was due, in part, to the increased digitization of the industry as well as targeting capabilities and data available via programmatic. Of course, OOH was undeniably impacted this year from shelter-in-place orders and the changes in human behavior throughout the pandemic.  While people’s patterns were changing, they hadn’t disappeared. Vistar wanted to help advertisers understand these shifts using data to showcase how OOH could be leveraged to speak to consumers during these trying times.  With some deeper analysis on and understanding of how different venues and markets were affected, Vistar increased client conversations — focusing on rebuilding confidence in the channel and working with our partners to reinforce the value of OOH in the consumer journey with data to back up recommendations. The flexibility of programmatic DOOH, which allows brands to quickly optimize towards changing consumer habits, was key in demonstrating to advertisers that they could in fact still reach their target audiences throughout the pandemic. In fact, we conducted a survey with MFour at the end of October and found that ads on OOH formats were seen as more trustworthy and relevant than ads on other platforms, 58% of US consumers saying they are very likely or likely to believe messaging in OOH advertisements. Furthermore, 88% of consumers reported they like OOH ads, and 71% of respondents said they relate to the messaging shown on OOH screens.


As we navigate this “new normal” do you have an idea of how you’re going to set your objectives/goals for 2021?

Heading into 2021, Vistar will  continue to showcase the value of programmatic DOOH buying and selling. While 2020 has been full of unknowns, we’ve seen a strong comeback in the out-of-home industry throughout the second half of the year, proving the resiliency in the channel. With the increase in digitization of OOH and growth in the footprint of screens both outdoor and in or around essential businesses, clients are able to shift spend to screens that follow the consumer journey of “today” — allowing brands to adapt to shifting consumer habits, just as any other digital channel. Our goals and objectives will undoubtedly remain, showcasing that the flexibility along with advanced data and targeting capabilities that DOOH has to offer will continue to offer a key advantage for our advertisers.


What industry trends do you think will be prominent in 2021? Which ones will become less important?

Similarly to 2020, flexibility and the use of data will be key touch points for OOH buying and selling in the year ahead. The ability for real-time and real-world responses to shifting events and conditions is now more critical than ever before, and as consumer habits change, having data to understand these habits and new movement patterns will be paramount in media decision-making. Another major focus will be on limiting media waste and making more room for brands to break the mold and be innovative when it comes to the types of venues and creative they can put to use. Advertisers will be able to do this with real-time campaign management tools that allow for granular control and the flexibility to adjust their strategies quickly. Less important will be institutional buying practices, such as always looking to traditional means of buying without the use of data.


How has your company been able to maintain a positive work environment, remotely?

Vistar has been able to maintain a positive working environment while away from the office by providing employees with the flexibility to make work from home (WFH) work for them. Our people operations team is continuously providing helpful resources including: productivity, mental health, WFH and time management tips, as well as a subscription to a new wellness & fitness application. During the height of the pandemic earlier this year, Vistar implemented two mandatory days off per month to recharge, and management has actively taken the time to acknowledge victories both big and small as we progress forward in times of uncertainty. Additionally, we have regularly scheduled social touch points, which include virtual cross-department activities or lunches, happy hours, holiday festivities, and more.


Lucy Markowitz is the VP of US National Sales at Vistar Media. In her six years at Vistar, Lucy has helped scale the sales team across the US creating partnerships with agencies and some of the largest brands in the world. Prior to joining the Vistar team, Lucy led hedge fund and investment bank sales at Dataminr and was an analyst at Goldman Sachs.

This article was originally published by The Advertising Club of New York.

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