COVID-19, OOH Advertising, and What AdQuick Has Learned So Far

In just a few, short weeks, the world has become a completely different place than what once felt normal to us. COVID-19 is changing the way that people live their lives, everywhere. Almost everyone is experiencing tough times due to the pandemic. The AdQuick team wants to help.

COVID-19, OOH Advertising, and What AdQuick Has Learned So Far

In just a few, short weeks, the world has become a completely different place than what once felt normal to us.  COVID-19 is changing the way that people live their lives, everywhere. Almost everyone is experiencing tough times due to the pandemic. The AdQuick team wants to help.

Our platform and partners give us insight into experiences of people on the ground. We have deep knowledge about different parts of the United States thanks to our extensive network of people across America’s most vibrant cities.

So when California and New York announced self-isolation measures, we knew we needed to step up, to help.

COVID-19 is forcing us to double-down on our strengths as a business

As you can relate, COVID-19 is new terrain for everyone at AdQuick. The sudden change is impacting all of us on both a personal and professional level. We built our business with the ground-truth assumption that people are always out and about.

We never expected that the out of home (OOH) industry would take the turn that it did in 2020. All reputable forecasts said that OOH was going through a growth spurt. The pandemic has changed everything.

It’s nothing that anyone would have considered.

Now, the unexpected is happening.

More than one-third of the global population is in self-isolation, unable to leave their homes. Cities have become desolate. There is no clear end in sight to what’s unfolding in front of our eyes.

One thing we do know; however, is that COVID-19 will come to an end.

Nothing can ever replace humanity’s love for the outdoors. Life will reach a new stage of normal, with time.

As a business that specializes in OOH, we need to be patient along this journey.  That’s why, at AdQuick, we’re focused on making sure that we keep building a business that prioritizes human experiences in addition to the marketing metrics we typically focus on our clients' behalf.

For this reason, we believe that the OOH, marketing, and advertising industries have the potential to help write the best possible end to the COVID-19 narrative. As a business, we see stepping up to help as our duty.

What our partners, all over the United States, share in common is that we all want to see people outdoors again. We all love being outside, as people. By staying inside for the time being, we’ll be outside again, faster.

We’re all in this situation together. We believe that every business that can, needs to do its part in offering help.

We are committed to serving the public

Our technology makes it possible for us to listen to what people cities need, help deliver messages, and take actions to address tough problems. We’re using the AdQuick platform we’ve built to focus on the following:

1. Keeping lines of communication open with partners
The future of COVID-19 is unpredictable. AdQuick is always ready to respond. We are proud to be a team of good listeners and are always open to hearing from partners.

Now is the time for businesses to start thinking out of the box. If you think AdQuick can help your initiative, please reach out. Companies need to work together in unconventional ways, now more than ever.

2. Watching what markets are open
COVID-19 has, and will continue to have, different ripple effects in different areas of the United States.

Because the AdQuick platform is built on a network of media owners with local knowledge and analytics partners that measure physical movement, we are able to see where people are currently on the ground—and how they are moving around (by foot, in cars, via public transit, etc.).

At any given time, we know where it makes sense and where it doesn’t to be running campaigns. We can also help you geo-target messaging to groups of essential workers, who are still on the ground.

We can help you make the judgment calls that you need. We would also like you to share your perspective with us.

3. Enhancing our core product
In time, foot traffic will return everywhere. The future is always around the corner. The pandemic won’t last forever. Out of home advertising is timeless.

As a team, we’re using our time in self-isolation to be more thoughtful about our product development decisions. We are building a sustainable business, encouraging our team to rest, taking care of each other, and staying optimistic about the future.

We aim to be a good example to other businesses. Long-term thinking is necessary, from everyone right now.

4. Helping out
We can’t predict how long the pandemic will last. Nobody can. So we’re making sure that the AdQuick platform is ready, at any time, to respond to the needs of partners and potential advertisers, at any time.

An uncertain future means that we need to stay agile, on our toes, and responsive as a business. Everyone has the potential to save lives right now, with the decisions that we make—even if that decision is as simple as staying home.

Out of home (OOH) is a powerful channel for delivering public service announcements (PSA).  Our platform needs to stay open to serving the American public.  We are ready to adapt to evolving messaging and outreach needs.

What we learned from our COVID-19 PSA

In building the COVID-19 campaign, we tested the capabilities of our business. We didn’t have time to fully process what we were doing. We needed to act quickly. We surprised ourselves along the way. What motivated us was a shared desire to help.

On March 20, three days before social distancing measures were enacted in New York City, our company’s CEO and investors approached us with an opportunity to help power a campaign encouraging social distancing with Ro, Quan Media, and Wieden + Kennedy. We were up and running in a few hours. There wasn’t a lot of time to plan—or to even think about what we were doing. We started receiving press for these efforts before we had time to think or reflect.

Here’s how one journalist describes the campaign in an article for AdAge:

“In the latest brand effort to address the coronavirus pandemic, telehealth company Ro teamed with Wieden + Kennedy Portland and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on this push with a patriotic theme,” writes Ann-Christine Diaz.”

“Outdoor and social ads depict a new version of the American Flag—all 50 stars are now spaced further apart. Copy reads, ‘Stay apart. Together.’

Ohanian, who is a board member to both Ro and AdQuick, shared the image on social media, and billboards are running across the country with media coordinated by AdQuick and Quan Media Group. Creative was done pro bono.”

There’s a story behind the story of how this campaign got to market. Our goal, in the rest of this blog post, is to share the lessons that we learned along the way.

Here goes:

1. OOH is faster—and more efficient— to execute than other traditional channels
COVID-19 is a global crisis that depends on social distancing to counteract. There wasn’t time for deliberation. Mistakes were not an option. We needed to launch a PSA, to encourage people to stay at home, quickly.

The entire process, from designing creative to running creative on dozens of digital billboards in ten markets, reaching approximately 17 million people, took about 72 hours. AdQuick provided an efficient route for people to connect with a wide audience, in an impactful way, in a short timeframe.

2. Strong partner relationships make difficult things possible
One of the first steps that we took when launching this campaign was to contact 150+ of our media owner partners to see who would be able to donate inventory at this time.

These incredible media owners responded: Big Outdoor, WOW Media Inc, Outdoor 1st, Brooklyn Outdoor, 3.0 Outdoor, Firefly, Keystone Outdoor, Barrett Outdoor, Outdoor Signs, and Triple O.

We are grateful that our partners believe in us to do the right thing and happy to work with people who we can count upon in times of need.

Trust is everything, in business. It’s moments like the one we’re living, right now, that remind us why.

3. There’s always room to do good in out of home
Digital billboard units are equipped to rotate ads. That means, it’s possible to show multiple ads. If there’s available inventory, meaning that an advertiser hasn’t booked the placement, there’s room for a PSA.

In running our COVID campaign, we relied on inventory that our media partners donated to us. When the world returns to normal, there will still be opportunities for people to run campaigns for good.

4. The cause is bigger than the branding opportunity
This campaign has always been about the message—not the branding. It’s about instilling a sense of camaraderie and pride in what connects us as Americans.

Some of our media owner partners asked, in exchange for them donating inventory, that AdQuick not include any Ro branding on campaigns.

That “ask” didn’t change any of our judgment calls. We were on board. We understand. Our media owner partners have businesses to run, too.

Ads are more than ads.

They’re important messages.

They’re emotional connections.

They’re art.

They’re pillars of peoples’ livelihoods.

5. The American private sector brings incredible things to life
AdQuick, at its heart, is a network of businesses that support one another to be at their best. This ethos—and the trust that comes from it—empowered all of us to step up in our individual roles to execute.

Our partners trust us to fulfill our promises. We trust our partners to fulfill theirs.

That’s what positions AdQuick—and companies with similar values to AdQuick—to forge ahead and serve the people during tough times.

We hope that our story, as a startup, inspires other companies to step up, too.

Get Involved

The best that we can do, in crisis situations, is to support the people around us while looking forward. That said, the team at AdQuick is all ears to ideas. If your company is interested in sponsoring a PSA related to COVID or any other cause, please reach out. We’re always happy to help, and our eyes are open to the power of out of home to help.

Before we conclude, we’d like to extend a thank you to all the amazing people and companies participating  in this campaign:

Media Owners
Keystone Outdoor - Andrew Chambers, Senior Account Executive
3.0 Outdoor - Keith Stewart,  National Sales Manager
Outdoor 1st - Danny Trachtenberg, Chief Revenue Officer
Firefly - Michael Brunner, Senior Account Executive
Big Outdoor - Ian Rappaport, EVP of National Sales
Triple O Outdoor - Walter Owen
Brooklyn Outdoor - Emily Nelson, VP of Sales and Operations
Barrett Outdoor - John Perry, Sales and Marketing Manager
Outdoor Signs - Jody Wallace
WOW Media - Dave Pittman, Founder and Owner

Quan Media Group  - Brian Rappaport, Founder and CEO

Initialized Capital - Alexis Ohanian

Contributors Statement

This campaign (and blog post)  was a collaboration between the AdQuick team, including Doug Guan, Nina Boost, Elle Dietrich, Payton Biddington, and Chris Gadek.

If you'd like to learn how out of home can work with your unique marketing campaign and business, send a quick email to or call (213) 986-6179.


The opinions expressed are those of the authors. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. Please be sure to consult with your internal team of stakeholders to assess your specific needs before adapting any practices from this blog, as your own.