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Why Outdoor Advertising Is Important: Formats, Benefits, and ROI

Outdoor advertising, or out-of-home (OOH) advertising, refers to any type of media in the real, physical world used for commercial and educational purposes to influence behaviors, spread awareness, and provide utility to the general public.

OOH campaigns use larger-than-life visual displays with calls to action and bold graphics to capture the attention of people as they move throughout their daily journeys.

As one of the most valuable forms of advertising, OOH campaigns are an important piece of any strategic effort to reach consumers. Plus, modern data science platforms offer advertisers advanced attribution capabilities for determining OOH performance.

Common Types of Outdoor Advertising
A common perception is that outdoor advertising signs are just your standard freeway billboard. OOH offers a wide variety of formats that brands can leverage to optimize their ability to communicate with target audiences in conjunction with other media channels.

Traditional Out-of-Home Formats
Traditional OOH formats are commonly the cornerstone of OOH campaigns and are familiar sights throughout the roadways and cities of America. A few common examples include:

  • Bulletins: Represent the most common-sized large format OOH placement, offering maximum visibility for brand messages. They are located on major freeways and thoroughfares, reaching vehicular traffic as they move throughout the market.
  • Posters: Most commonly situated on secondary roadways and local arteries. Posters provide an opportunity for brands to reach their audience in a local capacity and can help to bolster program frequency.
  • Junior Posters: The smallest size of billboard, junior posters give brands frequency opportunity near retail locations where they can spark interest near point of sale. Junior posters are very common in areas of the market where bulletin and poster coverage is limited.
  • Wallscapes: One of the most impactful forms of OOH, wallscapes blend seamlessly into the fabric of the city, generating high levels of awareness in areas with high volumes of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Digital Out-of-Home Formats
Digital OOH (DOOH) is very quickly becoming one of the fastest expanding formats within the OOH space. DOOH is quickly becoming the go-to for many advertisers as it provides much more creative flexibility and quicker turnaround times for production and installation. It also provides our clients with the ability to target specific audiences at relevant times/dayparts and to create timely messaging based on occurrences, triggers, or happenings.

Some of the forms digital OOH advertising can include:

  • Digital Bulletins: Most inventory is located on major freeways and thoroughfares, reaching vehicular traffic as they move throughout the market. Digital Bulletins are large-scale digital screens that light up high-traffic areas with the ability to run dynamic brand messages.
  • Digital Place-Based Ads: Situated near or at shopping destinations, restaurants, gas stations and other retail locations, these smaller-scale digital ads capture the attention of consumers as they go about their day.
  • Digital Street Furniture: Affixed to bus shelters, digital street furniture offers a major impact on pedestrian and street traffic at the hyper-local level.
Street Furniture Formats
Eye-level street furniture ads give brands the opportunity to connect with consumers in a more personal manner. This type of format ensures the brand is top of mind as consumers pass by during their daily routines.

There is a wide range of outdoor street furniture that exists in the marketplace :

  • Bus Shelters and Bus Benches
  • Newsracks and Newsstands
  • City Information Panels, Digital Kiosks, Phone Kiosks
  • Urban Panels
  • Transit Media 

Transit Media Formats
Transit OOH is most commonly tied to public transportation systems (rail and bus) throughout the market. Transit OOH has a great dual functionality in that it has the ability to reach riders and also those walking and driving throughout the market. Transit OOH formats are used to help bolster reach and frequency in the market, as it can reach places where traditional OOH sometimes cannot.

Examples of transit-based advertisements include:

  • Bus, Commuter Rail, Subway
  • Taxi Tops
  • Truckside Displays
  • Mobile Billboards

Place-Based Advertising
Placed-Based OOH does a fantastic job at allowing advertisers and brands to reach their potential customers within many different venue types (retail, healthcare facilities, entertainment venues, and so on). Placed-Based advertising is also a terrific way to reach consumers at point-of-sale.

This just-in-time approach can provide great ROI for retail brands.

Place-based ads are constantly evolving. This dynamic format can take many shapes, fitting into surroundings where consumers are most likely to spend their time.

The Importance of Outdoor Advertising for Brands
OOH advertising is important because it gives brands the ability to reach large groups of consumers with engaging visuals and powerful messages, all reading the same message simultaneously. That is powerful. OOH has proven and will continue to prove that it is a necessary channel within the marketing media mix. With advances in technology, demographic/psychographic targeting and measurement, OOH continues to evolve and offer brands an unending creative landscape to reach the masses in real-time.

An outdoor campaign is the opportunity for a brand to get out into the world where consumers work, shop and play. In a world where competition among online advertisers is fierce, OOH represents a route for brands to speak directly to customers who are likely to be interested in their messages.

Because of OOH’s scale, outdoor campaigns enable brands to attract new customers in addition to engaging their existing customer base.

With Customers Spending More Time Online, Where Does Outdoor Advertising Fit in?
While it might be easy to think that OOH is irrelevant in a media landscape where the average consumer has their nose buried in a smartphone screen, the data actually points to the opposite. Online advertising methods like branded social media posts are certainly effective, but they haven’t eaten into OOH’s share of the market.

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the industry experienced 40 consecutive quarters of growth through 2019.

And while 2020 was a tough year for many industries — and OOH was no exception — 2021 and beyond still look bright.

With an increasing shift toward programmatic digital out-of-home (PDOOH), brands will be able to strategically place their messages in front of the consumers who are most likely to respond.

In addition, as younger consumers move away from major cities on the coasts, there will be more opportunities for brands to establish themselves in emerging markets across the country.

The Benefits of Outdoor Advertising
Traditional and digital outdoor advertising is highly beneficial for brands that want to spread awareness, engage customers, and drive sales. Outdoor advertising has several advantages for brands:

  • Brand Exposure: OOH media fits into the landscape, delivers incredibly strong brand awareness messages to those who are the move each and every day. This approach works well when reaching out to returning or net new customers. Consumers who already use the product or service will be reminded of the brand; new customers will become more familiar with the brand, and may be more likely to try it out in the future.
  • Affordability: OOH advertising is budget-friendly and highly scalable. Additionally, OOH media has a much longer lifespan than online ads and cannot be blocked. For instance, when someone leaves a web page featuring ads, they may never see those ads again. However, commuters get exposed to the message on a daily basis, allowing them to develop brand awareness and familiarity.
  • Customization: Brands can fully customize their OOH media based on target demographics, geographic targeting, and other factors. Thanks to growing digital OOH inventory, brands can customize their messages based on hyper-local conditions by purchasing OOH programmatically.

OOH advertising meets people in the places they frequently visit, whether that’s on the way to work or while enjoying a leisure activity. These benefits are far-reaching, enabling brands to speak directly to new and returning customers.

Measuring Outdoor Advertising Effectiveness
Leveraging the latest data science platforms and technologies, it’s never been easier to measure OOH advertising performance. By combining privacy-compliant data from multiple providers, advertisers can plan the design and format of their ads as well as their buying strategy.

By using anonymized mobile device IDs, advertisers can also benefit from advanced attribution for the determination of OOH performance and point-of-interest growth based on audience movements and behaviors across any market. With these deep insights, brands can leverage their spend more wisely and ultimately reach and exceed their marketing goals.

Using reliable data, brands can more accurately target their messages to both large-scale and niche audiences. This allows brands to intercept customers at key points in the buying journey. With so many options available, businesses can be more certain that their messages reach their intended audience. There’s never been a more exciting time for OOH media.

Want to learn more about how to attract and engage your target audience with outdoor advertising? Get in touch with our team of experts.