Over the past few years, we have seen market trends we never expected. A severe drop in spend during the COVID Pandemic and the gradual return to normal are now a crucial part of the history of OOH that led to new advancements and creative solutions. Now, in 2023, as employers and employees navigate whether or not they will ever return to in-person spaces the OOH industry once more has to hold its breath to see what’s in store. If the workforce remains mostly at home what does that mean for the Out of Home community?
Will people return to work?
It’s hard to say. For a while, employees had a lot of sway when it came to whether or not they were going to return to the office. Recently, however, companies as big as Disney, Amazon, Starbucks, and Twitter are moving towards requiring employees to be in the office more with some even moving back to full-time in-office hours. This shift comes as our economy grows uncertain which tips the scales back in the employer’s favor.  There are currently several companies in the midst of negotiating what their policies will be and only time can tell where they will land.
What will happen to OOH marketing?
The data actually seems to show that this work-from-home movement may not have all that much of an effect on traffic at all. According to TomTom, there has been a 19% decrease in congestion globally but not necessarily a decrease in total traffic numbers. Meanwhile, Ride-sharing options such as Uber have also seen an increase in traffic and the demand for home delivery drives up the number of workers who spend their days on the road. All that to say, working from home doesn’t stop the quantity of traffic, just the qualitative factors like who is traveling and when. This bodes well for OOH advertising.
It should also be noted that according to Candice Simons, the president and CEO of Brooklyn Outdoor,
“While people weren’t traveling as far in distance, people were leaving their homes with the intention of making a purchase.” 
This means that advertisers can use OOH to target audiences closer to home, opening the door for small businesses to take advantage of the benefits of OOH.
A few more stats from a study performed by OOH today that prove hopeful for the industry:
71% of respondents reported tuning out digital device ads.
68% were increasingly concerned with privacy and security when shopping online.
47% would like to reduce phone, computer, and/or TV usage after months of spending all their time on devices while at home.
Around 75% of consumers are trying to get out of the house more.
How should OOH respond?
OOH is a strong industry with a widespread repertoire of mediums at its disposal. It's historically one of the first forms of advertising and it has already come this far. With open eyes and a thorough understanding of trends, the OOH industry has plenty to look forward to. While traffic trends look promising, it would be naïve to assume that doesn’t mean that times are changing for the industry. This new era will likely be an era focused on small and local businesses as communities continue to come together and invest in their surroundings as an escape from being at home all the time. Having the tools to sell to smaller, local businesses will be crucial to any OOH sales team that hopes to be successful. Visuals of what their screens will look like and where, increased control of their campaigns, and personal relationships with sales reps will be irreplaceable as the target market shifts from general working-class consumers to intentional shoppers and community members looking to invest in their local economy and social wellbeing. How successful the OOH industry is over the next few years will depend on how well they are able to adapt to this shift.
 Christian, A. (2023, February 7). The companies backtracking on Flexible work. BBC Worklife. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20230206-the-companies-backtracking-on-flexible-work
 Beecham, M. (Ed.). (2022, February 9). How the pandemic changed how we move in our cities in 2021: Tomtom blog. TomTom. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.tomtom.com/newsroom/explainers-and-insights/how-covid-19-changed-the-way-we-move-in-2021/
 Tikalsky, O. (2022, November 4). The return of out-of-home advertising. Collective Measures. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.collectivemeasures.com/insights/the-return-of-out-of-home-advertising
 Now you see it; now you don't: The traffic hiatus from covid-19 was historic...and brief. Texas A&M Transportation Institute. (2022, February 7). Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://tti.tamu.edu/researcher/now-you-see-it-now-you-dont-the-traffic-hiatus-from-covid-19-was-historic-and-brief/
 Williams, G. (2021, April 16). Has covid-19 changed the impact of out-of-home (OOH) advertising? Has COVID-19 Changed the Impact of Out-of-Home (OOH) Advertising? Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/has-covid-19-changed-the-impact-of-out-of-home-advertising/
 OOH Today. (2022, February 2). Out of home -back in style, stronger than ever, thanks in part to the pandemic. Out Of Home —Back In Style, Stronger Than Ever, Thanks In Part To The Pandemic. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://oohtoday.com/out-of-home-back-in-style-stronger-than-ever-thanks-in-part-to-the-pandemic/