October 16, 2020

Plexus, The Global OOH network driving international recovery

Adrian Skelton, Managing Partner, Talon Group & Tom Perrett, Client Services Director, Plexus.

Since the Talon Group launched Plexus in April 2019, we are proud of what we have built in such a short space of time. A strong brand, an experienced team and the largest independent global network creating “Smarter as standard” campaigns around the world for our clients.

Our global network continues to expand. We now have over 25 offices around the world that work seamlessly together with our central Plexus hubs in London and New York. whether it is our own Talon offices in the UK, Germany & across the US or trusted independent specialists based in Europe, APAC and Latin America we are all united by our shared passion for the OOH industry.

Executing global campaigns needn’t be complicated. The Plexus network has been built on the founding principles of Speed, Simplicity and Trust which all partners sign up to ensuring multi-market consistency and efficiency in audience segmentation, strategic OOH planning and evidence-based delivery.

Our recent #sendinglove campaign with sister agency Grand Visual that went live in 178 cities across 38 countries, epitomises our vision of simplifying global OOH.

As we look to global recovery from COVID-19, our number 1 priority at Plexus is to demonstrate leadership in these times of change. The invaluable “on the ground” insight that our network partners deliver, help us quickly understand the changing consumer behaviours and market dynamics around the world. Our recent series of webinars that focused on the recovery in APAC, US and Europe together with the airport environment have proved very popular among our client, agency and media owner partners.

The Global Travel Retail Industry has been hit hard by the global travel restrictions, but we felt it was important that Plexus exhibited at the Virtual Moodie Davitt Travel Retail Expo to not only get a full understanding of the recovery from airlines, airports and clients – but to also demonstrate to the industry how we feel the consumer journey in airports will change and how best to engage with customers in a post Covid-19 world.

Network Partnerships

Two of our newest partners are in South Africa and Russia. They have an interesting perspective on how audiences and brands have returned to Out of Home locations and the sentiment for a return to growth for the channel in 2021.

In South Africa, Jacques Olivier is Managing Director of OTS Media, our local Plexus partner. He sees a rebalancing of audiences and some positivity around certain categories and demographics driving economic recovery, which creates the opportunity for bands to use OOH.

In terms of returning audiences, Jacques shares, “audiences are coming back quite rapidly, depending on the media type and location. Highway sites have returned to 85% of pre-Covid traffic (Primedia data) as freedom of movement has normalized post-lockdown. As in many markets, morning and afternoon peaks are no longer the same, but lunchtime peaks are now being seen. So, a rebalancing of audience movement, with the Government schools only partially opened and employer flexi-time impacting on traffic peak patterns.

“In South Africa, the bottom-end of the market is thriving with Government relief money channeled here to a highly mobile audience, thus the mass market transport hubs are very sought-after advertising platforms.

“Have brands returned to the Out of Home space? While all advertising has seen a marked decline in spend and virtually no advertisers are spending at the same level as 12 months ago, we anticipate an uplift for the last quarter of 2020 as advertisers try to recover lost sales. What’s positive is that any new advertisers are benefitting from a much higher share of voice for their spend compared to 12 months ago.

“Also, mall advertising has recovered to a degree and the level of unique visitors is back to pre-Covid levels. Frequency is down, but mall owners are claiming that revenue volumes are back at pre-Covid sales. We see a shift away from luxury goods but FMCG’s are still going strong.

“Looking ahead to 2021, much will depend on how we start in January. Companies remain very much under pressure due to lost revenues and productivity, a contracted economy and lower consumer spending due to increased unemployment. But there’s a great deal of informal trade happening that’s keeping money in circulation within this segment of the market. This in turn translates into disposable income for FMCG products.

“Beyond this, once airports open, we expect a gradual return to growth in 2021.”

In Russia, Anatoly Mostovoy from our partners Omniboard360, have charted recovery metrics in OOH.

“The volume of transport and pedestrian traffic in capitals like Moscow and St Petersburg has almost recovered after falling during the quarantine. Its now just 8-9% below January levels, according to Ad Metrix. In the largest cities, OOH saw just a 1/3 drop in revenues, really bucking the long-term trend. Like elsewhere, the OOH market was supported by government communication and with digital OOH accounting for around 15% of inventory, we had some flexibility in our messaging. This attracted categories including retail, real estate, communications services and food brands to OOH.”

Looking ahead

From a Plexus perspective, the crisis has really opened our eyes to the possibility of being more reactive and in the moment using device data and other data sources around cities and locations. And with our creative outlook, the value of contextual OOH messages has never been greater. Over the past few months, we have shown OOH can deliver real leadership in brand communications, and as audiences return the channel is an outlet for much needed broadcast messages for brands in recovery across the world.

We are fortunate to have a strong and supportive global trade body in The World Out of Home Organization that has helped galvanise the international OOH community in this tine of crisis. Aligning Plexus closely with WOO ensures we are all pulling together in the same direction as we strive to put the OOH medium at the forefront of global recovery.

We can’t demonstrate leadership without a true understanding of the impact of COVID-19 in key markets around the world. Having access to relevant data is vital, but the core principles of OOH planning still ring true. This on-the-ground expertise that our network partners bring, give us trusted local intelligence, and therefore a unique roadmap by advertiser on how to navigate the recovery.

There will be a global ‘reset’ for how consumers travel and ultimately engage with OOH advertising in a post COVID-19 world. Helping clients navigate this in a ‘Smarter as Standard’ way is exciting, and we genuinely feel our best work is ahead of us.

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