Great expectations for audience movement in the coming months

Great expectations for audience numbers in Out of Home

It was the beginning of winter, 18 months on since the start of the pandemic and most Australian states were moving freely except Victoria. We were snuggling up to our ‘false sense of security’ blanket thinking the worst of this virus was behind us. Little did we know the Delta variant had arrived.

On 21 June, before NSW went into lockdown, the total national Out of Home movement was high, sitting at 94% of 2019 levels. At the end of August, with NSW and Victoria still in lockdown, national audience figures only dipped to 72% of 2019 (1). How is this the case?

Lockdowns continue but so does audience movement

Even while experiencing lockdowns people still move within their local government areas. It’s estimated that 92% of the metropolitan population are in the suburbs, with only 8% in CBD and inner suburbs (2). Audiences in suburban areas have remained more stable, maintaining travel patterns, as well as spending and shopping closer to home.

Beyond suburbs, we continue to see stable and healthy audience movement regionally – even with lockdowns. Current regional audience movements are at 88% of 2019 and remained buoyant, this year hitting highs of 117% of 2019 volumes (1).

The light at the end of the tunnel

The NSW government has promised to restore freedoms for all fully vaccinated residents once the state hits 70% double-dose coverage – regardless of COVID-19 case numbers (3). Current modelling indicates 70% of the 16+ population will be fully vaccinated in October and Victorians in November (4). This is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Whilst we know lockdowns impact audience movement, and the Out of Home industry, what we are now seeing is a quicker recovery in audience numbers each time restrictions ease. Once Australians are allowed outdoors again – beyond their suburbs – they are out there as soon as they can!

Let us look at Queensland’s audience volumes this year to date. Having only experienced a fraction of lockdowns and restrictions this year, the state’s audience volumes have been maintained all year round, sitting above 100% Vs 2019 pre-covid (5). Queensland’s brief 3-day lockdown in late March 2021 saw audiences decline by -17% (5). However, as the lockdown was lifted, audience volumes quickly soared by +36% within just 2 weeks, returning to levels +19% higher than 2019 volumes (5). These patterns are seen in other states’ lockdowns, audiences bounced back as soon as restrictions were removed.

It is a snapshot of what we can expect to occur in those states facing the brunt of lockdowns.

Audiences are bouncing back quicker than before

In a post lockdown world, we can expect to see a greater volume of people outdoors than pre lockdown. We predict national audience volumes to perform higher than 2019 once the population reaches 80% vaccination rates.

We will get back outdoors, back to a new normal, if we learn to live safely with the virus and hit vaccination targets. With the national cabinet preparing to re-open Australia, it is important we take note of the opportunity this will provide in Out of Home. Particularly as this will coincide with summer – the peak Out of Home season, and the peak advertising period for many brands.

Sources

  1. Source: Dspark Audience Intelligence Dashboard 27th August 2021
  2. Source: RDA, Geotribes Explorer Australian General Synop, June 2018
  3. Source: [https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/aug/04/updated-national-plan-suggests-80-of-australians-could-be-fully-vaccinated-by-end-of-2021]
  4. Source: CovidLive.com.au, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Department of Health
  5. Source: DSpark Audience Intelligence Dashboard; Metro & Regional Queensland; Road, Retail, Office, Café & Study volumes vs same time in 2019

For more insights into audience patterns, head to the Audience Intelligence hub.