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Advertising during COVID-19: Unlocking with Insight

unlocking with insight

As Northern Ireland continues to ‘unlock’ as a result of COVID-19, Exterion Media is ready for business. 


 Whilst we appreciate many businesses still face uncertainty and may be reluctant to commit to marketing activity, we have created this dedicated resource to help provide reassurance, tips and advice for returning to outdoor advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


On this page you will find details of our outdoor advertising solutions which reveal how they are perfectly placed to reach a growing audience as lockdown restrictions continue to ease and people return to our towns and cities. Although we don’t just expect you to take our word for it. We’ve also asked our online community of over 2,000 Northern Ireland urbanites about their views and opinions on returning to life in the ‘new normal’ following the pandemic. 

Unlocking with Insights

There has been a major shift in the mood of the outdoor advertising audience

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've been tracking the mood of the Northern Ireland outdoor audience. It's an improving picture with most now feeling less scared, less anxious and instead, feeling more positive. Frustration levels have also decreased since May 2020 as a host of businesses reopen and restrictions on movements outdoors are lifted, allowing people to return to the activities they love. Ultimately this is great news for businesses and advertisers as these mood changes reveal an eagerness and confidence for people to safely return to the outside world.


This changing mood is coupled with a strong desire to visit local businesses and take part in pre-COVID activities. Here are just some of the activities our urban audience have done already following the easing of restrictions, including those activities they plan to do this summer in Northern Ireland.


Unlocking with Insights

Our Media in the ‘new normal’ and advertising during COVID-19

We have a comprehensive portfolio of outdoor advertising solutions across Northern Ireland. Whilst the outdoor environment did see declines in audience levels due to lockdown measures as a result of the pandemic, a change in mood of people across Northern Ireland coupled with the reopening of businesses, as restrictions ease, the great power of outdoor advertising is there to be harnessed once again. 

In July 2020, 7in10 NI Urbanites told us they have noticed some form of outdoor advertising since embarking on journeys outside of their homes following the easing of lockdown restrictions. Add to this half of people who said they think that measures such as social distancing, queuing systems outside businesses and outdoor seating at bars and restaurants will make outdoor advertising even more noticeable.

Read more below to discover how our media is perfectly placed to help your business in this 'new normal'...

Hit the road running: Roadside billboards and backlits

Billboard Advertising Belfast Northern Ireland

As more sectors are permitted to reopen following lockdown measures, road traffic is increasing week on week, reflecting a growing roadside audience too. According to Apple mobility data, since the end of lockdown, average weekly driving mobility in Belfast increased +70% to 112.09 and above the baseline norm.

Our network or large format billboards and roadside backlits are located on main arterial routes, ideal for communicating to growing traffic flows about your business reopening, provide directional signage, offer a friendly welcome message or even promote a post-lockdown sale to push excess stock.

Discover more about these opportunities here.

Gain at grocery: Retail opportunities at supermarkets, malls and convenience

Covid Our Media

With supermarkets and essential retailers in malls remaining open throughout the crisis, our media opportunities at these locations continued to act as a trusted source of information. Unsurprisingly, a report by Kantar revealed that the NI grocery market expanded by 5.7%, with shoppers spending 17.8% more than last year

Whilst the long queues may have subsided as other non-essential retail reopened, shoppers are still spending more per trip to the supermarket (+35% versus the same period last year), reflecting a continued desire to keep cupboards stocked and people continuing to eat more meals and snacks at home. 

Discover more about these opportunities here and here.

Think outside the bus: Bus advertising solutions

Covid Our Media

Usage may be down, but buses remained on roads throughout lockdown. Bus advertising offers much more than a means to communicate with those travelling on the bus. With formats to suit any campaign need and budget, it’s a way to reach those who come into contact with bus advertising as they travel on our roads, or shop in our towns and cities. According to our community, since lockdown restrictions eased more Urbanites have seen bus advertising than adverts at bus shelters.

Service frequency was recently enhanced to meet changing passenger demand as lockdown restrictions eased (including routes that attract more leisure travel). This trend is set to continue with average weekly transit mobility in Belfast increasing +109% since the end of lockdown. Add to this, a fifth of our community plan to use the bus as their main form of transport in the next 4 weeks (up from 1in10).

Discover more about these opportunities here.

At home on the high street: Media to mirror movement

Covid Our Media

With lockdown restrictions eased across most business sectors, people have returned to high streets across Northern Ireland with 69% spending more time in their local neighbourhoods and over 2in5 spending more time close to where they live (within 3-5 miles). We can help you reach audiences in their local areas with our network of high street 6 sheets and phone kiosk formats located in areas where other formats are in short supply.  

Of course it's not just about local towns and cities, but Belfast itself is experiencing above average post-lockdown recovery, with a third planning to visit more often in the next month. Whilst many have yet to return to work in the City, it remains a convenient and important destination for the 670,000+ living in the Belfast Metropolitan Area who visit to shop and socialise – don’t leave Belfast off high street plans when targeting audiences making journeys out of home.

Discover more about these opportunities here.

Increased dwell time for digital

Covid Our Media

According to the High Street Recovery Tracker, Belfast is outperforming the UK average in terms of post-lockdown footfall recovery - fuelled by the reopening of non-essential retail, bars and restaurants. As operators of the City Centre's largest on-street digital advertising network, we can offer you flexible ways to reach audiences as we enter a ‘new normal’ of living with COVID-19. Measures such as social distanced queuing outside businesses, the granting of pavement licenses for bars, restaurants and cafés and a greater focus on cycle lanes and pedesrianised streets all help to drive increased opportunities to see and dwell time for your message.

Outside of the City Centre, our Mall D6 format benefits from new one-way systems along the mall concourse, granting additional time to influence at the point of purchase amongst the 7in10 who have already been out to shop for essential and non-essential items since lockdown restrictions eased.

Discover more about these opportunities here and here.

Unlocking with Insights

Insights and Inspiration to guide your outdoor advertising strategy in the ‘new normal’

Behind each snapshot is a full suite of research based on the opinions of our 2,000 strong Northern Ireland community – ask us to receive a copy of the full results by emailing or calling 028 9104 2116.  

We’ll be regularly adding insights to this page, so check back for future updates. In the meantime click on the links below to download.


COVID HELPUnlocking with InsightsUnlocking with Insights

Unlocking with InsightsUnlocking with InsightsUnlocking with Insights

Unlocking with InsightsUnlocking with Insights

Just Added!

Click the below to discover our latest research piece examining the attitudes and opinions of the Outdoor advertising audience as Northern Ireland in 2020 and beyond into 2021

NI Outlook Insights

Unlocking with Insights

We recognise that agility for advertisers is key right now

We acknowledge that it will take some time for business confidence to return and invest in pre-COVID levels of marketing activity, but we have a host of media opportunities offering huge flexibility. In addition, our locally based team are here to help you arrive at a solution that meets your current needs and budgets. 

To find out more, or to have a no obligation chat, contact us on 028 9104 2116

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