When you think of “advertising,” the first thing that springs to mind could be a social media ad or a pay-per-click search result. However, even companies that invest heavily in digital ads also bank on out-of-home (OOH) advertising campaigns to reach potential customers, boost brand awareness and bring in revenue.
All of the time that consumers spend outside their homes is a golden opportunity for brands to connect with their target audiences. Outdoor advertising media such as digital billboards, wallscapes and place-based OOH ads within venues like malls and cinemas help create such connections.
How can you, as an agency or advertiser, make sure your outdoor advertising campaigns use the proper inventory and ultimately spark action among the people in your target market? For that, you’ll need the right OOH media owner(s), plus a dedicated OOH specialist.
Understanding Roles: OOH Media Owners and OOH Specialists
Let’s break down what each of these different types of outdoor advertising companies does.
OOH Media Owners
An OOH media owner manages or operates the media inventory — in other words, a business that provides the actual outdoor advertising infrastructure that you will use, as well as the inventory that your customers will see. These outdoor advertising companies collectively offer a wide spectrum of outdoor media formats, with some of the most common options being bulletins, digital billboards, transit ads, street furniture and place-based OOH products.
OOH media owners offer the essential infrastructure you’ll need for running your traditional and/or digital marketing campaigns.
An OOH specialist is an outdoor advertising company that provides specialized services and tools for planning, targeting and monitoring OOH media campaigns. For example, an advertising agency might partner with an OOH specialist in order to find optimal placements, get discounts and see who was exposed to bulletins and digital billboards, and in which locations.
To those ends, OOH specialists may offer data science and in-depth reporting in addition to recommendations based on their deep industry knowledge. Moreover, OOH specialists work with you and the OOH media owner best-suited to your particular requirements.
Why Should I Work with Both Types of Outdoor Advertising Companies?
If your campaign is a “vehicle,” then the OOH media owner is akin to its fuel or battery.
The OOH specialist is all of the higher-level systems and controls for steering it and ensuring it gets optimal mileage.
You’ll want both to ensure you’re getting good deals on inventory, deploying it in the right target markets and driving as much exposure as possible.
Who Are the Main Media Owners in OOH Advertising?
While there are many OOH media owner, here’s a look at some of the major players by international, national and regional prominence.
OOH media owners in this space are typically publicly owned firms, equipped with significant capital that enables them to perform quick static-to-digital billboard conversions. Collectively, outdoor advertising companies in this category control almost 80% of the entire outdoor advertising market, owning most of the billboards regardless of form factor across the U.S.
The world’s largest outdoor advertising company by revenue, JCDecaux operates in over 80 countries. This OOH media owner is well-known for its street furniture, such as bus stops, pillars and kiosks, all of which integrate dynamic eye-level digital displays. It is the biggest supplier not only of street furniture, but also of billboards and other outdoor media types such as advertising within airports and malls.
Clear Channel Outdoor operates in almost all of the top 50 advertising markets in the U.S. and has an extensive international business as well, making it one of the world’s biggest outdoor advertising providers. Overall, it operates almost half a million displays in 31 countries.
The company’s digital network is the fastest growing in the U.S., already numbering 1,200 displays as of 2021. Clear Channel Outdoor’s OOH business encompasses virtually every type of format, from digital billboards and bus stop advertising to specialized news racks and wallscapes.
Headquartered in Baton Rouge, Lamar Advertising Company operates over 325,000 displays in the U.S. and Canada. This outdoor advertising company provides four main product categories: bulletins, digital billboards, airport inventory and transit advertising. Lamar is also a real estate investment trust.
National media owners have multi-market presence, covering the major U.S. markets and offering inventory for locations ranging from streets to commercial buildings. Advertisers in this category often concentrate in more particular areas than international suppliers do, focusing specifically in areas such as medical and sports facilities, grocery stores, laundromats and other points of interest.
New York-based Outfront Media serves advertising agencies and brands throughout the U.S. Outfront offers OOH inventory with a focus on large formats such as bulletins, digital billboards and signage and transit ads. It also provides street furniture and what it calls “specialty” formats for airports and areas with low existing ad penetration.
Since 2004, Orange Barrel Media has been creating value for advertisers, municipal clients, and the cities they serve by designing and operating iconic out-of-home media that adds to the character of urban spaces. Most recently, OBM has erected the Sunset Spectacular in West Hollywood as one of the most technologically advanced billboards in the U.S.
New Tradition Media operates primarily in three sectors: highways (including interstates), city centers and landmark venues. It supplies static and digital signage, as well as experiential inventory optimized for specific locations like Union Station in Washington, D.C.
For mobile billboards, do it outdoors is the biggest provider and also a major field marketing company. The company’s use of geofencing technology powers what it calls “shadow fencing,” a geofence that follows a branded vehicle wherever it goes.
FireFly offers internet-connected, high-resolution smart screens on taxis and rideshares in the most impactful markets across the US, including LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and New York.
Since 1978, AvPro Worldwide has provided aerial outdoor advertising. Products from this supplier include aerial and helicopter banners, skywriting and airshow displays.
Intersection has operated Link kiosks and OOH inventory for several major transit agencies across the U.S.
Van Wagner provides OOH inventory for stadiums, arenas and other sports and entertainment facilities.
Vector Media specializes in outdoor media including large OOH placements, double-decker buses, experiential products and transit assets.
Regional OOH media owners operate only in a specific region of the U.S. and are often the only players in their respective markets. Some regional suppliers are inventory owners and operators.
A key regional provider in the southern and western U.S., Becker Boards offers products including digital billboards and wallscapes.
Across Oregon and Washington, Pacific Outdoor Advertising maintains over 1,100 locations.
Mile High Outdoor Advertising serves the state of Colorado.
A local media owner can be a beneficial partner since they usually have detailed knowledge of their inventory and markets. Moreover, they are apt to invest a lot of their time into developing a personal business relationship with each customer.
Texas-based JGI Outdoor is a prime example of a local OOH media owner. This provider is best known for its outdoor advertising in Houston.
iKahan is an independent, minority-owned and certified (MBE) out-of-home media company. Founded in 2008, iKahan offers premium digital and traditional billboards in LA, NYC, and at the US-Mexico border.
Production & Installation with OOH Media Owners & OOH Specialists
Ultimately, the outdoor advertising company you select will depend on the pricing, products and business relationships that they offer in your target markets.
Once you have selected the appropriate supplier(s) and negotiated your rates, the next step is to proceed to production and installation. These processes involve checking PDF creative proofs, shipping required materials and installing the media itself.
An OOH specialist can help throughout these stages by offering supervision and general guidance, ensuring everything goes right. Additional creative services such as artwork mechanical resizing may be offered to help streamline services if requested.
Working with an OOH Specialist to Maximize Campaign Impact
An OOH specialist can provide a full suite of services for turbocharging an OOH marketing campaign. Benefits of working with an OOH specialist include:
- Access to Inventory from All Media Owners: An OOH specialist takes a vendor-agnostic approach, favoring no vendor over another. The buyer’s goals are the top priority and the OOH specialist will find the OOH suppliers to match them.
- Simplified Buying: Using data science and industry experience, OOH specialists help customers navigate the vast range of OOH inventory out there so that buyers can more easily find the right formats and placements for their needs.
- Deeper Strategic Insights: An OOH specialist can provide in-depth reporting about campaign KPIs and help you measure real-world exposure and brand awareness related to OOH media. Access to historic rates also helps with pricing decisions.
- More Precise Custom Targeting: By working with an OOH specialist, you can better align a digital marketing campaign with your target market, by tapping into customized targeting that reaches customers based on criteria like purchase history or geographic location.
- Superior Attribution: OOH specialists can help you know the true impact of your advertising campaigns with custom media recommendations and solutions to solve for business outcomes such as audience sales & brand lift, location visitation, website visitation and more.
- Production and Installation Supervision: As mentioned earlier, OOH specialists assist during ad production and installation, helping steward the creative process. OOH specialists can assist with delivery of materials to final locations and take action if there’s any graffiti, fading colors or other physical damage to media.
Interested in getting help from a proven OOH specialist who can guide you toward the best OOH suppliers and strategies for your campaigns? Connect with the experts at Billups to learn more.