In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry is navigating a fundamentally different retail landscape alongside the deep-rooted challenges it has faced for years. On the shelves of small retail stores, grocery chains, and big box stores like Walmart, brands have always been immersed in a cluttered marketplace. With the pandemic and rise of e-commerce shopping and delivery, this has become even more challenging to overcome.

Historically, CPGs turned to broadcast or print advertising to capture audiences and build their brand awareness. But these brands are recognizing this is where out-of-home (OOH) advertising shines. Here’s a breakdown of common challenges CPG brands face and how OOH can help overcome them:

Challenge No. 1: Securing broad coverage nationwide to build brand awareness

Awareness is critical to any brand. This holds especially true for CPGs. To build trust, relationships, and gain life-long, loyal customers, CPGs have to build brand awareness — and not just in larger markets.

Consumers live in every corner of the U.S., which means brands need to be everywhere potential customers are. Brands must think nationally, regionally, and locally when it comes to garnering consumer attention. However, being everywhere is a monumental – and often insurmountable – challenge for media buyers. While some media buyers may be advertising masters in large markets, very few are also adept at drilling down to small and mid-size markets. Even then, it requires a lot of time-consuming, manual work to execute national media buys that need to incorporate a patchwork of regional and local media partners. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

OOH media buying platforms can help brands research and navigate the vast terrain of OOH inventory nationwide –– and even streamline the execution of those buys. With the right OOH buying platform partner, advertisers essentially have access to the nation’s entire outdoor ad catalog, which is owned by thousands of different media vendors. Advertisers can now digitally research every kind of OOH inventory (including static and digital billboards, wallscapes, street furniture, transit ads, and more), and plan, execute, and measure complex ad buys in one convenient place.

Generating awareness ultimately comes down to a brand’s ability to gain mass reach and message frequency. With OOH ads and an OOH media buying platform, CPG brands can effectively gain the broad coverage they need to build awareness, minus the heavy lift.

Challenge No. 2: Accessing the right data to target campaigns and analyze campaign performance

When tracking their OOH campaigns, most CPG brands have been limited to analyzing location-based mobile data depicting footfall –– or foot traffic –– to retail partner locations. While these types of data play a vital role in understanding how many people are exposed to particular advertisements, they don’t provide any concrete numbers on consumers who are actually following through and buying products after seeing advertisements. Now, brands can actually tap into purchase data for both targeting and measurement. Simply put, this is a game-changer for CPG brands.

So, what makes purchase data so valuable for CPGs? The average grocery store carries over 28k items. Just because a consumer visited a store in which a product is sold, that doesn’t mean they were likely to have actually purchased that specific product. Purchase-based data shines a light on the specific products that shoppers actually purchase, giving marketers valuable insight into both targeting and measurement.

In terms of targeting, purchase-based data helps brands minimize campaign waste by reaching their precise target audience –– i.e., people who buy their products or those of competitors –– every time. When it comes to measurement, purchase-based data differentiates between customers who were simply browsing versus those that actually made a purchase, so brands can optimize their campaigns using meaningful metrics, analyze campaign performance, and shift dollars to their highest-performing placements.

Challenge No. 3: Building brand loyalty to stand out from competitors

CPGs require brand loyalty to survive in a competitive marketplace, and social media plays a massive role in establishing brand loyalty. Some 53% of Americans over the age of 12 that follow companies on social media are more loyal to those brands, according to The Social Habit –– and that number jumps up to 66% for younger consumers, aged 18-24. That’s why many CPG brands invest in social media to establish and foster direct relationships with their customers. OOH can help amplify these social media efforts to a greater degree than any other offline media channel. According to Nielsen, OOH locked in activations by a factor of four for every ad dollar spent compared to all other advertising media.

In its findings, Nielsen reported that about 38% of American adults have visited a Facebook page, and 25% an Instagram account, after viewing an OOH ad –– demonstrating that OOH ads help bridge the gap between the real and digital worlds. This rings especially true for younger, more digitally-inclined consumers. Facebook has even revealed that the combination of the social and OOH ads has a greater chance of reaching younger audiences than when the platform’s ads are paired with TV or print ads.

Adding OOH into a CPG brand’s marketing mix enables companies to build broad awareness across markets of all sizes, access critical and insightful data to gauge performance and better allocate ad spends, and successfully build brand loyalty to stand apart from competitors in an often-overwhelming marketplace. In the face of mounting obstacles and competition, now is the time for CPG brands to embrace OOH advertising –– and reap the benefits.