With the Movement Control Order (MCO) – initially implemented to slow down the spread of COVID-19 – in Malaysia now extended to 14 April, the market's OOH players are stuck in a holding pattern as brands defer campaign launches.

Valens Subramaniam, founder and CEO of OOH transit media company Rodeo told A+M that the pandemic, followed by the implementation of MCO has "certainly brought bad damage to OOH in general". With fewer consumers on the road, it would be harder for brands to spend and entice them.

When asked how long he foresees the impact on OOH to last, Subramaniam said he expects it to be at least two to three months, adding that it would be logical for clients to divert their spending to TV, radio and social media during this period.

Statistics from Moving Walls showed that there was a drastic dip in audience movement in Kang Valley areas such as Bukit Jalil, Bukit Bintang, in addition to states such as Johor Bahru and Penang. The most drastic decline was seen in Bukit Bintang – the capital city’s main shopping district – which had about 3,132,920 consumers before the MCO (between 1 to 17 March). Following the MCO, the number dropped to 512,863.

The media technology company reported that the MCO has "directly impacted" the ROI of OOH, as many campaigns have been placed on hold, ad spends are being restricted, and consumers flock indoors. However, despite the uncertainty in OOH media, Moving Walls told A+M that advertisers are not cutting back on OOH expenditure but shifting to place-based models, such as residential areas, hypermarkets, convenience stores, and pharmacies – current hotspots for restricted consumers.

Speaking to A+M, Eugene Lee, regional director of marketing, Asia business unit at McDonald's shared that the brand’s OOH media buy in Malaysia is purchased on an annual basis and nothing has changed yet though a visual change that was initially scheduled for late March has been deferred.

Deferment appears to be a common trend, with Posterscope's GM Paul Low sharing that most advertisers in Malaysia have deferred campaigns to launch post-MCO, according to, and the budget for thematic campaigns is being shifted to a later date, pending the lift of the MCO.

Although some ad spend has been diverted to social media and TV, Low foresees the impact on OOH to only last throughout the MCO ban. 

"Things should be back to normal, and possibly even an increase in OOH spend as more individuals will be carrying out activities outside of their homes," he explained to A+M. "In this interim, this will be the best time to plan a 'bounce back' campaign in advance to capitalise on this opportunity."

Sourced from A+M Malaysia