Productivity app Notion goes global with OOH efforts

Productivity platform Notion is ramping up its out-of-home efforts with ad placements across the globe to boost brand awareness beyond U.S. borders. In August, the brand rolled out its first international brand campaign with billboards across eight cities: San Francisco, New York, Toronto, London, Dublin, Paris, Tokyo and Seoul. 

“We can invest a little bit more in the U.S. to build our awareness there, as well as these markets where we’ve already seen some traction and some adoption,” Kira Klaas, Notion’s global head of campaigns, said, referring to the brand’s recent growth and brand awareness efforts. 

Notion is a U.S.-based, project management and note-taking app founded in 2017. As the business has grown, it has started gaining traction in other markets outside of the U.S., like Asia and Europe, Klaas said. In response to “the majority of our business being international,” Notion is ramping up brand awareness efforts via a global OOH campaign to capitalize on the interest, Klaas said.

At present, about half of Notion’s media mix is dedicated to awareness, which includes OOH and streaming video. The other half is made of a more targeted mix, which includes social, according to Klaas. She did not provide further details. According to Kantar, Notion has spent more than $7 million on marketing this year, nearly doubling last year’s spend of $3.8 million. Those figures do not include social, as Kantar does not track those numbers. Per Pathmatics, Notion reportedly doubled its digital investment, spending $6.2 million on marketing this year, compared with $2.6 million last year. 

Notion isn’t alone in placing its bets on OOH ads. Startups babycare brand Coterie, Sunday Scaires CBD and BellieWelli snacks have also launched OOH campaigns this year. According to a recent report from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America, OOH ad revenues in the second quarter of this year hit $2.62 billion, putting it on par with the pre-pandemic record highs of 2019. As conversations around an economic downturn heat up, marketers have said they’ll continue investing in OOH

Prior to its most recent campaign, OOH marketing wasn’t included in Notion’s media mix, Klaas said. “We’ve never advertised like this before — to this scale, to these types of channels,” she said. “We haven’t invested in brand marketing or advertising before because Notion has seen really incredible organic traction with its community and social.”

As Notion revamps its marketing strategy to build more brand awareness, the company has dialed down effort and spend on things like display and discovery ads to lean more into YouTube ads, where there’s more “time and space to explain what the product is,” Klaas said. For this specific campaign, channels like OOH, streaming video and podcasts make up a big chunk of Notion’s media mix. Klaas did not provide further details. 

“Budgets for Q4 may tighten with limiting travel, expenses and spending,” Patti McConnell, co-founder and managing partner of ad agency Something Different, said via email. “But if the concept is impactful, it can be timeless, provide brand longevity, showcase the brand at its best and be authentically unifying.”

As Notion and other digitally-native brands continue growing, OOH is becoming a bigger part of the conversation and media mix as they look to boost brand awareness, grab more shopper attention and better position themselves as competitors to major legacy brands, said Joe Burns, group communications strategy director at ad agency BBH USA. 

“My hunch about this is that we’re seeing a lot more outdoor being used by direct [to] consumer brands, digital brands and brands that have really grown online,” Burns said. “They’re looking to take their advertising dollars and move them into the offline space.”

Going forward, Klaas said OOH may not have as much dedicated ad spend as it did this year for Notion. “We might be spending a little bit more on the direct response side so that we can pay off that awareness investment that we made,” she said. The company said it is already strategizing around the holidays, planning to double down on successful channels and experiment with new ones.

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