QSRs Are Tapping New Out of Home Innovations for Full Funnel Growth

Quick-serve restaurants (QSR) — a highly localized business — have long been using Out of Home (OOH) advertising as a prevailing channel for its historical effectiveness in brand building. New innovations in audience and location targeting and outcomes-based measurement have recently elevated OOH’s role as a valuable performance marketing channel for both QSR and restaurant marketers to better understand the efficacy of their ad spend and drive audience conversion. Thus, the digitization of OOH is now enabling full-funnel brand growth for the casual dining category — from awareness to location visits and purchase.

Furthermore, with cookie-based targeting going away, marketers are reallocating their media mix and OOH — a strong driver of contextual relevance — is poised to take a greater share of ad dollars from other digital channels. OOH surrounds people’s everyday journeys and experiences in the real world and more consumers are paying attention to OOH ads. In fact, consumers 18-64 spend more time with OOH than any other ad media except TV, per the OAAA. Additionally, OOH is undisputed for prompting consumer action; 57 percent of consumers have recently engaged with an OOH ad; 43 percent visited the advertiser’s website; and 39 percent made a physical purchase, according to an OAAA/The Harris Poll report.

Inspiring Consumer Action with Memorable Outdoor Creative

In an increasingly competitive dining landscape, OOH has proven to break through for QSR marketers in capturing the attention of local audiences. According to an MRI-Simmons Fall 2020 study, 88 percent of consumers who have noticed OOH in the past month dine at QSR restaurants; 73 percent of frequent QSR diners pay attention to OOH; and 72 percent of frequent QSR diners have noticed OOH in the past month.

Location is typically the leading deciding factor as most consumers decide on fast dining options last minute and typically opt for someplace nearby. And there’s no better medium than OOH to reach relevant consumers while they’re in proximity to a QSR with bold creative and messaging. The ability to change images, videos, and tone to effectively engage QSR audiences and to make sure messages are relevant are also among OOH’s key benefits.

Furthermore, QSR and restaurant brands are taking advantage of augmented reality (AR) technology to bring the creative, immersive, and experiential capabilities of OOH to the next level to literally stop pedestrians in their tracks, prompt engagement, and create meaningful and viral moments. For instance, the use of AR technology can turn a digital screen into an interactive ad that can generate restaurant coupons with the integration of QR codes.

Amplifying Contextual Messaging Through the Power of Digital and Programmatic OOH

The growth of digital screens and programmatic capabilities are further enriching the medium, empowering QSR marketers to deliver contextual messaging. According to the DPAA, there are well over one million digital screens in the U.S — and it’s proven to generate tremendous reach and frequency at a more cost-effective rate than traditional TV. The ability to personalize campaigns around tailored audiences with contextual relevance is a powerful force for creating personal connections with consumers in their environment. In fact, full motion DOOH is 2.5 times more impactful than equivalent static ads and delivers a powerful emotional experience that drives brand effectiveness, according to Ocean Outdoor.

As such, restaurant brands are embracing the flexibility of DOOH to hyper-target neighborhoods and dayparts. For instance, in the morning they can promote breakfast menus and switch creative in the evenings to highlight dinner specials. For restaurants with multiple locations, the ability to dynamically adjust creative and tailor messaging by neighborhood is incredibly powerful. Additionally, QSR and restaurant marketers are harnessing the automation capabilities of DOOH to swap and tailor creative messaging in real-time based on weather conditions, traffic feeds, and social media conversations. And with geofencing, restaurant advertisers can retarget the mobile devices of on-the-go audiences who are in the proximity of an OOH media placement with new menu offerings and delivery services.

Beyond this, QSR advertisers have the opportunity to tap new cross-channel opportunities with OTT and DOOH to amplify their video strategies by reaching a single audience in and out of the home. Combining these two high impact channels allows restaurant brands to drive consumers, primed with OOH signage, down the purchase funnel.

With programmatic buying, QSRs and restaurants can optimize their campaigns mid-flight. For example, a QSR chain opening a new restaurant may be uncertain about which local neighborhood will be most interested in its cuisine. By running a programmatic OOH campaign in several locations, the brand can use performance data about visits to its restaurant based on OOH exposure to identify which campaign is driving the highest volume of visits. Based on these findings, the QSR can reallocate its budgets toward the top performing market to reinforce brand messaging and increase reach to others residing in the area.

Delivering Substantial Lifts in Awareness, Visitation and Purchase Intent

The transformation of OOH with new data-driven capabilities has resulted in more targeted and measurable campaigns. QSR marketers can now leverage location and audience data to tie ad exposure back to brand sentiment, purchase intent, footfall, website visits, app downloads, and more. Thus, the behavioral data used in digital media for audience targeting can be applied to detect real-world exposure to OOH advertising messages to enable QSR advertisers to connect the dots in investments and see a direct correlation between exposure and outcomes.

For example, we recently executed a QSR OOH campaign designed to drive restaurant visits to multiple national steakhouse locations. Leveraging location insights with real and recent audience behaviors and journeys, we measured the lift in awareness and visitation rates attributed to the campaign. The campaign increased the reach of the QSR brand’s target audience by 20 percent and drove a 318 percent lift in restaurant visits — increasing lift in visits by 1.4x. For another major QSR brand with the goal of driving restaurant visits in two key markets, our OOH campaign drove more than 145,600 store visits with a 11.83 oercent lift during an eight-week period.

OOH is proven as a primary advertising medium for QSR and restaurant marketers, and its scale and rapid digitization are providing even richer opportunities to execute data driven and measurable creative campaigns.