It has been well over a year since the pandemic swept over the world and dramatically impacted life here in the US. After enduring an incredibly difficult year in 2020, Geopath members (and people the world over) looked to the future with hope and uncertainly. What would 2021 have in store? Would we return to our former lifestyles quickly, or was this “new normal” here indefinitely?
Geopath’s 2021 forecast (released January 4th, 2021) was built upon expectations that were held at the end of 2020. The first was that the vaccine rollout would be readily available for the full population in Q3 and second, that once vaccines were widely available, activity in each market that would see a return toward pre-covid levels by the end of the year and continue that rebound into 2022.
It is now six months after the 2021 forecast was created and the first few months of 2021 have exceeded all expectations.
Vaccine distribution has been a huge success as officials have mobilized massive amounts healthcare workers and administered over 230 million doses. As of April 19th, every state in the US has made the vaccine available to all persons 16 years or older. As of April 26th, over 42% of the US population has received at least one vaccine dose.
The vaccination rollout has given confidence to much of the population to engage in familiar activities again. We are seeing mobility within the population that is at or above pre-COVID levels as people get out of home more and more often.
Given the success rate of vaccine rollout and the overall pace of the recovery, Geopath will issue an updated annual forecast in June 2021. This midyear annual forecast will be a 12-month forecast and will reflect the expected audience delivery from June 2021 through May 2022.
Since this will be a major milestone for the OOH industry, Geopath will be supporting the release with a series of communications, educational materials and trainings which will be announced over the next six weeks to ensure members are prepared for the release.
REMINDER: The 2020 forecast is no longer valid. All Geopath members should be using the current 2021 forecast for all planning and transactional purposes.
The Roadmap to Monthly Forecasts
As with any forecast, it is the best estimate based on the data currently available. As the impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, Geopath will periodically release updated forecasts. The first midyear update will be in June and then again in October of 2021.
While a midyear forecast release is a first for Geopath and the OOH industry, it aligns with Geopath’s goal of introducing more granular forecasts released more often which reflect changes in the marketplace as they happen. More frequent data releases also will enable Geopath to quickly deploy new and enhanced capabilities more often.
The migration to a rolling forecast will provide the industry with a continually recalibrated forecast using the most current observed data and allow us to incorporate the impact of vaccination rollouts and expose any unique seasonality.
Reach and Frequency Update
Over the past several months, Geopath has been working on refinements to its reach and frequency methodology to reflect changes in activity due to the pandemic. Legacy reach and frequency methods relied upon stated results from a consumer travel survey that was conducted in 2008. Enhancements to the measurement allow an advanced understanding of actual audience exposure frequency across out-of-home inventory by leveraging new data inputs from passively captured location data from mobile devices.
The use of improved data streams from device mobility produces a distinctively contemporary industry currency and provides advertisers with the ability to better target their audiences utilizing out-of-home advertising.
As a result of the methodological improvements and more granular data sources, there are significant changes to the reported reach and frequency delivered by individual units and inventory packages. These are a result of the improvements to the methodology and do not reflect changes to the actual inventory.
The inherent value of the advertising has not changed; the metrics are more precise. The audiences have not changed; measurement capabilities have evolved to be more accurate, incorporating the best data resources that are available today.
Geopath remains committed to providing the industry with the most precise audience metrics and will continue to work with our member committees to refine methods and models as necessary. The midyear annual forecast in June 2021 will include enhancements to the reach and frequency methods. These enhancements will include a more refined classification of the reachable population for out-of-home media and an improved method for quantifying the duplication across place-based and roadside media.
Additional R/F Resources
Geopath has developed an overview document to help our members understand the key changes to the reach and frequency mode and their impact. This document is available in the geekOUT Library, but can also be downloaded here for your convenience.
Also, in case you missed it, Geopath conducted a webinar last month covering the reach and frequency changes, which can be viewed here.
Geopath will also conduct a follow-up session on the reach and frequency updates in which we will provide additional examples and outputs to illustrate the impact of the change. You can register by clicking on the link below.
We will continue to update our members with more information on the scheduled midyear annual forecast release. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us at geekOUT@geopath.org with any additional questions.