Outdoor Advertising: Billboard (© Georgejmclitte - Fotolia.com)
Outdoor Advertising: Billboard (© Georgejmclitte - Fotolia.com)

Outdoor advertising refers to methods of advertising that are designed to reach consumers when they are out of their homes. Since consumers spend more time out of their homes then in them, outdoor advertising is highly effective. This type of marketing can take many forms, from billboards to signs posted on mass transit. In this article, we offer a detailed look at outdoor advertising and its importance.

Also referred to as out-of-home advertising, outdoor advertising is the process of displaying marketing materials outdoors in outdoor spaces that consumers frequent. Businesses use this type of marketing platform to build brand awareness, boost visibility, and increase their overall success. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), outdoor advertising can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptians. The OAAA also states that consumers spend more time outside of their homes than inside of them, which makes outdoor advertising a highly effective form of marketing.

Types of Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising employs various methods in order to promote a brand or share a message. The different forms of outdoor advertising are segmented into three separate categories:

  1. Billboard advertising. Of all the forms of outdoor advertising, billboards are the most popular. This type of out-of-home advertising is used around the world. Billboards are usually situated near roadways that receive a lot of traffic; however, they are also placed along roadways that are not frequently traveled, such as next to suburban and rural streets. The key advantage of billboards is that they are easily visible and very cost-effective, thus making them a very effective marketing tool. Usually, geographically-relevant information is displayed on billboards; for example, local restaurants, lodging, shops and other types of businesses that are within close proximity to the areas that billboards are displayed.
     
  2. Mass transit. Outdoor advertising is also displayed on mass transit. Ads that are placed on or inside of public buses, taxis and trains are all examples of out-of-home advertising displayed on mass transit. The vehicles used for mass transit aren’t the only way outdoor advertising are displayed in mass transit; advertisements that are placed inside of airports, in train stations and in bust stations are also considered examples of mass transit outdoor advertising.
     
  3. Outdoor furniture. Pieces of outdoor furniture that are designed for public use are also used as modes of outdoor advertising. Examples include park benches, shelters for public buses, kiosks for public telephones, outdoor newspaper dispensers, and the like.
     
  4. Miscellaneous locations. Outdoor advertising is also displayed in other areas outside of the home that the public frequently accesses. These miscellaneous locations can include:
     
    • Grocery store shopping carts
    • Sporting arenas
    • Health clubs
    • Libraries
    • Museums

Benefits of Outdoor Advertising

Out-of-home advertising offers multiple benefits for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. Here is a look at some of the most notable benefits that this type of advertising can provide:

  • Highly impactful. Unlike other forms of advertising, such as television commercials, outdoor ads don’t have to be invited inside. In other words, people don’t have to turn on a TV or a computer or open a magazine to view them. These ads are part of the environment, are instantly seen, and cannot be turned off. As such, they create a significant impact.
     
  • Attention-grabbing. Also unlike other forms of advertising, such as ads in magazines or newspapers, or commercials on TV, outdoor advertisements stand alone. This means that they don’t have to compete with other ads. This means that once these ads are seen, they are more likely to be committed to memory, as people are less likely to forget the ads they’ve seen and be swayed by the competition.
     
  • High reach. For brands that are aiming to reach a broad audience, outdoor advertising is an excellent option. That’s because it consumers that businesses may not believe would be interested in a product or service and therefore would not target with other marketing methods can see these advertisements. Moreover, people who may not have access to other advertising modalities, such as social media, have access to out-of-home advertising.
     
  • It’s engaging. Consumers are more likely to enjoy viewing a large billboard while they are on a road trip or an ad placed inside a subway car than they are to enjoy viewing commercials on their television. Outdoor advertising breaks up the monotony of a day-to-day commute, while television and magazine ads are often viewed as being interruptive. This means that consumers are more likely to engage with this method of advertising and are more inclined to commit brands to memory and take action, such as making a purchase.
     
  • Cost-effective. Outdoor advertising is much more cost-effective than other types of advertising, such as television commercials, newspaper ads and television commercials. They also offer a greater return on investment, making them an excellent option for business owners who are on a budget or who are looking for a savvy advertising option.

Disadvantages of Outdoor Advertising

Despite the many benefits that out-of-home advertising offers, there certain disadvantages that are associated with this type of marketing. Some downsides that are worth mentioning include:

  • Failure to recall contact information. A phone number or website can be displayed throughout the entire duration of a television commercial, recited repeatedly on the radio, or printed on a magazine or newspaper ad for consumers to easily access. On outdoor advertising, however, it may be difficult for people to recall contact information, as they may only view an ad once. Therefore, even if people are interested in purchasing something from a business they saw displayed on an outdoor ad, they may not be able to remember how to contact the business to make a purchase.
     
  • Vandalism. Unfortunately, vandalism is a real threat to outdoor advertising. Vandals can easily spray paint, draw on, or otherwise disfigure a billboard or an ad displayed on mass transit. If an outdoor ad is vandalized, it could not only prevent consumers from acquiring the message of the ad, but it could also cause them to associate negative connotations with the ad, and thus the business.
     
  • Success can’t be measured. You can track the impact of other types of marketing, such as social media marketing and television commercials. However, with outdoor advertising, there is no way to gauge whether or not an ad is working. That’s because metrics can’t be connected to these forms of marketing to measure their reach and whether or not their reach is leading to purchases.
     
  • Success isn’t a guarantee. While out-of-home advertising offers the advantage of reaching a broader audience that you may not have targeted with other types of marketing, or that other audiences may not have access to, this can also be a negative. For example, you may not be reaching anyone who actually would be interested in purchasing your products or services. Since you can’t target an audience that is “most” likely to purchase what you offering, you may not actually see any success.

Who Should Use Outdoor Advertising?

What types of businesses will outdoor advertising benefit? The answer to that is simple: any local business. Since out-of-home advertising targets people who are in close proximity to the geographical location of a business, this method of marketing can be beneficial for any type of business. With that said, here’s a look at some business types that often see success from this type of marketing:

  • Restaurants. Outdoor advertising has proven to be extremely effective for restaurants. People who are looking for a bite to eat in a specific area are likely to choose a restaurant that they see advertised on a billboard or on the side of a public bus.
     
  • Hotels. Motorists who are traveling long distances and are in search of a place to get some rest usually reach out to hotels that are advertised via outdoor advertising. In fact, if it weren’t for this type of marketing, many people wouldn’t know about lodging opportunities in a particular area.
     
  • Local businesses. From clothing stores to shops that sell homemade crafts, outdoor advertising has proven to be highly effective. Potential customers are more inclined to pull off at the next exit on a freeway to purchase something they see displayed on a billboard, or someone is more inclined to visit a shop they see advertised at their bus stop.

Outdoor Advertising Tips

In order to make your outdoor advertising efforts as successful as possible, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Images are essential. Make sure your ads showcase captivating images. A large single image is better than a collection of smaller images. It’s more eye-catching and easier to remember.
     
  • Use color wisely. High contrast colors work best for outdoor ads. They are easier to see and won’t get lost in the rest of the environment.
     
  • Use clear font. Avoid whimsical font. Instead, opt for bold and easy-to-read prints.
     
  • Go big. The bigger your ad is the more impact it will make.

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