Taking Vaccine Campaigns Outdoors: How OOH Can Help Spread the Word

Ever since the novel coronavirus first began disrupting life as usual, one solution has been on everyone’s minds: a vaccine. Without it, no one knows how long the pandemic will dictate the course of people’s lives. But with it, there’s a strong hope of a return to normalcy. Once vaccines became available, adequate distribution and inoculation became the main concerns. While there are plenty of logistical hoops to jump through along this journey, marketers must also confront another barrier: misinformation.

In order to get the vaccine to as many people as possible, the public must have access to accurate information about it and take action. This is where Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising comes in.

OOH, such as billboards and transit and street furniture ads, has had a resurgence in recent years. This medium is a natural fit for medical marketers who need to share important information with the public and move vaccination progress forward. Here’s what to know about using OOH to help educate the public about the COVID-19 vaccine, and contribute to improving public health in the U.S. and around the world.

Garner Awareness

Every advertising campaign has a different goal or call-to-action, but in this instance, OOH can be used to share vaccination information and roll out plans with entire communities. Spreading accurate details about the process, along with updates, through formats such as billboards, wallscapes, street furniture, and so forth is both cost-effective and efficient. Furthermore, OOH advertising has been found to be viewed as more trustworthy than other forms of advertising, since ads are embedded in the community and can’t be changed or edited quite like digital ads are known to be.

OOH is also a great way to reach large groups of people, and to segment your messages and graphics based on the communities being served your ad. For instance, you may have learned that one community is resistant to getting the vaccine because of concerns about possible side effects. In this area, you’ll want your ad to share facts about the number of successful vaccines that have been administered, or another resource that will help citizens sort fact from fiction. Perhaps a different community is multilingual, in which case you’ll want to make sure your ads in that location are translated into the primary languages spoken there. This way, everyone has access to the same information you’re sharing.

Medical marketers have been using OOH ads like this, and experiencing great results. Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, for example, found success with deploying OOH public health campaigns to promote “Wear a Mask” campaigns to increase their citizens’ awareness of why wearing masks was important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and encourage widespread change. This leads into…

Inspire Action

Awareness is important, but awareness alone won’t drive social or health change. So, make sure you have an endgame in mind for how you’ll use OOH to help spur action. A few best practices for doing so include honing in on a clear message and keeping it brief. OOH ads provide a perfect platform for succinct, influential messaging, which is much more likely to be read, remembered, and acted upon than something lengthy or confusing. Simple copy like “COVID-19 Vaccine Facts Here” with an accompanying URL will be much more effective than several sentences about the vaccination process and how to get it.

One of the main priorities for the medical community is to ensure the public is receiving accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine. The internet is well-known to be a breeding ground for misinformation, and it’s proving to be so once again when it comes to vaccination stories. Your call-to-action could be to invite the public to visit an informational website you or the government have created that has accurate information and resources about the vaccine that can be trusted. By driving people to such a site, you guide the communities you’re reaching toward where they can get their questions answered, and know they will receive accurate information.

Lean on Technology

Of course, one of the most valuable aspects of today’s OOH is how data and technology can be combined to make a real, measurable impact. Gone are the days when OOH ads like billboards were generally seen as large posters, planned without data insights, and lacking access to post-campaign performance metrics. Today, everything has changed. Map-based platforms, fueled by street-view imagery, make it easy for media planners to scope out an OOH ad’s environment with a few simple clicks. This removes the guesswork and prioritizes data-led planning.

Providers can also help organizations deploy successful OOH campaigns that combine advanced techniques such as audience-based targeting, place-based targeting, and multichannel retargeting. Then, they can measure these campaigns in real-time to gain actionable insights. For example, a marketer could directly attribute online sales and traffic as well as in-store footfall to an OOH campaign, or measure geo-located lift in clickthrough rate and conversion rate to see whether OOH ads improved the performance of digital ads. Furthermore, digital OOH campaigns give marketers a chance to test, modify, and even swap out creative during the course of a campaign based on how a given unit is performing. The impact of this is not only measurable, but also powerful.

Everyone can play a role in sharing accurate facts about the COVID-19 vaccine, now is the time to meet your audience right where they are in their community. Doing your part will make sure the public receives important information about the vaccination, and will get you unbeatable reach and results. Now that’s the kind of win-win everyone needs right now.

  • Matthew O’Connor

    Matthew O’Connor is the CEO and Cofounder of AdQuick, the first platform to allow brands, agencies, and individuals to complete the entire process of planning, buying, executing, and measuring out of home (OOH) advertising campaigns anywhere in the U.S.


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