Last updated on July 7, 2021

If there is one thought in every Canadian’s mind these days… it’s certain to be when will things go back to normal?

With Canada’s vaccination campaign ramping up, news of other countries and cities opening, consumers and brands alike are in the hope that things will start to go back to normal sooner rather than later.

As Canada works towards a pre-pandemic reality, Caddle wondered: How has pandemic closures and stay at home orders affected out of home advertising? And how much attention should brands be paying to this traditional method of advertising once things are back to normal?

Panel stats

Earlier in March, close to 9,000 Canadians were surveyed through Caddle’s panel on the topic of outdoor advertising, and whether billboards, bus stop displays, window ads and the like are actually catching consumers’ attention. With the rise of online shopping expedited by the pandemic, Caddle was curious to find out if physical outdoor advertising is still relevant in today’s digital age.

And the results are in

While digital methods of consumption are increasing since the start of COVID-19, such as the use of QR codes (24% of Canadians use QR Codes more frequently than before the pandemic) and contactless payment (53% of Canadians use contactless payments more frequently than before the pandemic), Canadians are getting outside when they can and stopping to smell the roses.

In general, 90% of Canadians appreciate their outdoor surroundings. Since COVID-19, 55% appreciate the outdoors even more now than before the pandemic. This likely explains why 14% of respondents notice outdoor ads more now frequently compared to 6 months ago.

Around 66% of Canadians notice outdoor ads while driving, whether that be in their hometowns or while visiting a city or town they don’t live in.

How frequently do you notice outdoor ads now compared to 6 months ago?

When we look at generational differences, about 20% of Millennials and Gen Z notice outdoor ads more frequently, despite being digital natives.

Interested in online advertising? First read Caddle’s findings on the Death of the Third-Party Cookie, Rise of FLoC.

From brand awareness to purchase, outdoor advertising can do it all

Beyond catching consumers’ attention, outdoor advertising is also influencing consumer behaviour. 25% of respondents state that outdoor ads have informed them of a product in the past 12 months, and 20% of respondents state that outdoor ads have influenced them to buy a product or service Given that outdoor advertising have minimal ways to segment the target audience, these numbers are significant.

How do you feel about the statement: “An outdoor ad informed me about a new brand in the past 12 months?”
How do you feel about the statement: “Outdoor ads influenced me to buy a product / service?”

Main Takeaways

No. 1|

Outdoor advertising is still an effective channel despite being overlooked by many brands. Canadians are paying attention to outdoor advertising even more so compared to a year ago.

No. 2|

When return to normal comes back full throttle, outdoor ads are still a core channel brands should consider. Brands who invest in this channel are sure to capture the eyes of consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Z.

No. 3|

Though it may not be top of mind for marketers, product awareness and sales conversion are metrics outdoor advertising can deliver on. Don’t overlook the power of a billboard or bus stop display.

Are consumers tuning out COVID-19 advertisements? See how opinions have changed one year ago compared to now.

*Disclaimer: all data presented is owned by Caddle and has a Margin of Error of 1% or lower.

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