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Outdoor Advertising – What is it and how your business can benefit from using it?

Daniel Reynolds Last Updated on January 28, 2021, by Daniel Reynolds 13 mins well spent

While home media and online digital advertising has become wildly popular in recent years, OOH advertisements, such as billboard advertising, is still one of the leading marketing strategies used by businesses in all sectors of industry all around the world. 

In fact, according to survey data from Outsmart, the UK’s out-of-home advertising trade association, digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising has grown by an impressive 29.7% CAGR from 2009 to 2014.  But aside from that, to date, traditional roadside billboards remain the most popular and most effective out-of-home (OOH) advertising methods, generating a total of 66% of all ad revenue in the US. 

In turn, this leaves many large and small business owners wondering what exactly is OOH advertising, and whether or not it’s worth investing in this concept to help build their brand awareness. 

Below, we’ll be taking a closer look at the history of advertising, the different types of modern outdoor advertising, as well as how effective OOH advertising solutions really are when trying to reach a given target audience. 

What is out-of-home advertising?

Also known as outdoor advertising or outdoor media, out-of-home advertising (OOH) is the term used when referring to any advertising strategies targeted at consumers outside the privacy of their homes. 

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, consumers spend about 70% of their time outside of the home.

Therefore, when these types of advertisements are strategically placed in high-traffic areas, such as next to a busy road, in shopping centres, at train stations, at a bus stop or in bus shelters, outdoor advertising offers a significant amount of exposure to a broad audience, which, for advertisers, typically means a considerable return on their investment (ROI). 

Short history of outdoor advertising

Although out-of-home-advertising history reaches as far back as ancient Egypt, when Egyptian authorities would position laws and community standard rules around their cities on large obelisks made of stone, outdoor advertising didn’t truly take off until the 1790s when the process of lithography was invented.

With lithography, it then became possible for advertisers to easily print their message on large posters using a combination of oil and water. But the best part is that this technique made advertising accessible to brands and businesses with both a large or a smaller budget.

Then, in 1850, we saw the earliest form of outdoor ads being posted on streetcars and at bus shelters in busy metropolitan areas. However, it wasn’t until 1867 that the world would see its first billboards.

Five years later, in 1872, the International Bill Posters’ Association of North America was created, which has since plastered millions of advertisements on billboards all around the world.

Then, in the 20th century, things in the OOH ads industry really started to pick up steam.

For instance, in 1958, U.S. Congress passed the first body of legislation to regulate billboards in the country.

Then, 7 years later, in 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed his name on the Highway Beautification Act, which was meant to govern billboards and OOH ads alongside all federally-controlled roadways in the country.

Since then, OOH ads have had somewhat of a bumpy ride, as several states, namely Vermont, Main, Hawaii, and Alaska, have established outright bans against billboards ads.

Still, despite this, OOH has continued to grow in popularity, all around the world, to eventually become the multi-billion dollar industry that it is today.

In the 21st century, however, this form of OOH is now on the brink of yet another revolution.

In fact, with the advent of new technologies, there’s almost been a massive shift in the way that consumers perceive and interact with these types of advertisements, which is forcing advertisers to rethink the way they promote using OOH billboards and ads.

Why is out-of-home advertising so popular?

As it stands, outdoor (OOH) advertising is the most effective nondigital advertising medium used to reach a given target audience and generate online activity, leaving many business owners wondering why this medium is so popular, especially when digital advertisements are currently dominating the internet.

But the fact is that outdoors advertisements are typically placed in high traffic locations, which means that, even if people don’t pay attention to the ad the first time they see it, they’ll likely pass by it more than once, which, over time, works to leave a lasting impression in a person’s memory.

Plus, 55% of people say they were “highly engaged” by the outdoor ad’s message which is not something digital channels can boast of. Additionally, consumers tend to like OOH advertising because it doesn’t invade their privacy by not using cookies or other types of data like other types of in-home ads do.

In fact, to help illustrate the impact of outdoor advertising in the UK, roughly 24%, which is nearly 1/4 of consumers have searched for a brand online after seeing an OOH ad. And, roughly 14% of consumers have snapped a photo of an OOH ad they’ve seen for future use.

Different types of outdoor advertising

Now that you know a bit more about where this type of advertising has come from let’s review some of the different types and details of out-of-home ads.

Billboard Advertising

By far, the billboard is one of the most popular form of outdoor (OOH) advertising. According to Wikipedia, billboard ad revenue makes up a total of about 73% of all local ads, about 18% of national ads, and roughly 9% of all public service ads.

Also, just over 80% of billboard viewers make an effort to actually look into the advertising message on a billboard at least some of the time.

On top of that, billboard ads can be static images, interactive videos, or they can even use augmented reality technology, leaving advertisers with plenty of options when it comes to how they wish to get their brand in front of their audience.

Dynamo, is currently among the leaders in the industry in terms of innovative billboards, especially in the UK and Dubai, where LED screens, billboards, and posters are having a tremendous impact on consumer behaviour.

We specialize in LED displays, including billboards, which are the most captivating type of OOH ad used to grab consumer attention. Additionally, we offer an extensive range of LED screen products in the UK alone, and, to this day, continue to increase our global footprint.

Posters And Public Street Furniture

Another extremely prevalent form of OOH advertising is the use of posters and ads on street furniture, such as on park benches or at a bus stop, both of which are usually found in high-traffic locations including airports.

Typically, ads on street furniture are much smaller than billboards ads, however, due to their being posted in public, high-traffic locations, these ads are often extremely effective at getting a brand in front of consumers.

Transport Advertising

According to studies, about 46% of Americans aged 16+ travel an average of 2 or more hours per day in a vehicle. On top of that, roughly 68% of consumers make their shopping decisions while they’re in their vehicles.

Plus, another 38% of consumers shop at stores on their way home from work.

So with all that in mind, it’s no surprise that advertising on the side of buses, transport trucks, trains, or only next to busy roadways can be such a lucrative strategy for a business to get its message in front of the right target audience. In turn, generating an abundance of brand awareness for any business that invests in this strategy.

Retail Advertising

When you’re shopping in a mall, it’s not unusual to see mannequins or clothing displays in almost every retail store you visit.

Because shoppers are already in a consumer mindset when visiting a mall or retail location, this medium of advertising represents an ideal way to showcase a business’ products to an audience already in the mood to make a purchase anyway.

Cinema Advertising

Advertising in theatres or cinemas is yet another extremely effective OOH advertising strategy to reach a given audience. This is because most cinema-goers are already sitting down and watching. In other words, these people are already paying attention, and because they’re out of the house, they’re already in a consumer mindset.

Therefore, if a brand hasn’t thought of implementing a cinema advertising campaign, it might be missing out on a massive chunk of the pie!

Guerilla Or Stunt Advertising

By far, one of the most effective, yet out-of-the-ordinary outdoor advertising medium is known as guerilla or stunt advertising. Essentially, guerilla marketing uses surprise or unconventional public interactions to create hype and attract an audience’s attention to a particular product or service.

One of the most popular examples of stunt advertising was Red Bull’s Stratos project, which involved Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, flying about 39 kilometres up into the stratosphere before performing a free fall and parachuting back down to the solid ground.

One of the best parts of this type of strategy is that it’s almost sure to make the news media, which offers plenty of exposure for any company.

While Red Bull never officially released numbers on how much revenue the stunt generated, some experts believe that the company invests a whopping 30% to 40% of its revenue into similar marketing campaigns.

Why use outdoor advertising?

One of the biggest reasons for using outdoor advertising is that billboards and other OOH ads stand out to your audience, especially in contrast to regular cityscape scenery.

But more importantly, businesses everywhere have been flocking towards OOH advertisement because it gets their name seen by such a huge amount of potential customers, every single day.

In fact, the average person who commutes to and from work sees about 50 outdoor ads per day. However, that number was reported in the 1970s.

In 2006, on the other hand, this number rose to mind-boggling 5,000 ads per day!

If you do the math, this means that, on average, people see about 35,000 outdoor ads per week, 140,000 per month, and a staggering 1,680,000 outdoor ads per year!

Because you can almost be sure that outdoor ads will be seen by a large number of people, planning an outdoor advertising campaign is much easier than a digital marketing campaign, with the added benefit of being almost guaranteed to attract consumer attention to a company!

Additionally, OOH is suitable for a much more comprehensive range of budgets.

In fact, outdoor ads often have a lower CPM (cost per thousand impressions) than other forms of advertising media. And, they offer some of the highest exposure rates in the industry.

For example, in the UK alone, out-of-home (OOH) ads reach roughly 98% of the entire population every week!

How effective is outdoor advertising?

If that still wasn’t enough to sell you on OOH advertising, let’s take a look at a few other stats:

  • 33% of billboard viewers carefully examine the billboard each or almost every time they see one. (stotoutdoors.com)
  • 21% of OOH ad viewers have visited a restaurant after seeing it advertised outdoors.
  • 24% of consumers say they’ve called a business after seeing it advertised outdoors. (penji.co)
  • 71% of consumers engage with outdoor, roadside ads in some way. (penji.co)

How can you use outdoor advertising?

Like any other type of advertising, OOH advertising campaigns can be used to help brands achieve a wide range of business objectives.

For instance, outdoor advertising can be used for:

  • Branding by getting a new brand in front of consumers.
  • Promoting a product, service, or event – displaying the product or service.
  • To reach a broader target audience – carefully placed OOH adverts have the potential for a tremendous amount of exposure.
  • To gain more coverage and impressions from consumers – adverts in high-traffic areas can obtain countless impressions day after day.

What are some brilliant examples of outdoor advertising?

We’ve already touched on Red Bull’s massive guerrilla marketing stunt, but what are other brands doing to capture consumer attention in new and innovative ways?

With the advent of new technology, brands are starting to get more creative than ever before, especially in terms of the billboards that they’re able to put up. For instance, brands are now using 3D billboards, which can be used to imitate a whole slew of products and services.

One good example of this might be a brand that’s promoting a product to help people quit smoking. In this case, they might design their billboard’s main support post to look like a crushed cigarette butt, which helps increase the impact of the ad.

Elsewhere, the beer maker, Carlsberg, has recently created what has been dubbed “probably the best poster in the world“, a massive billboard with a built-in, self-serve beer tap at the bottom.

Talk about an exciting way to capture consumer attention!

One other example of a jaw-dropping, attention-grabbing billboard is the ad for the BBC’s adaption of the movie Dracula.

On the billboard itself, you’ll see dozens of bloody stakes that stick out of the poster. Still, the real jaw-dropper is that, at night, a carefully positioned light on one side of the billboards casts a shadow from the stakes, which manifests the profile of Dracula!

For more highly innovative billboard ideas, click here. 

How is outdoor advertising evolving?

According to TrailerAd, about 98% of consumers worldwide view at least one outdoor billboard per week!

And while out-of-home advertising certainly isn’t anything new, the industry has seen some impressive growth in recent years.

Back in 2017, the OOH advertising industry grew by about 1.2% from the previous year, which saw its total annual revenue sitting somewhere around $7.7 billion.

More recently, however, the industry has taken even more massive strides.

Compared to the second quarter (Q2) of 2018, OOH advertising revenue jumped an impressive 7.7% in the second quarter of 2019, which accounted for about $2.69 billion in a single quarter.

According to a press release from the OAAA, Q2 of 2019 saw some of the highest quarterly growth the industry had seen since 2007.

However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is estimated to see a contraction of about 8%, which cancels out any growth from previous years, equivalent to a loss of roughly $50 billion due to changes in consumer behaviour.

But that doesn’t mean that’s it’s all doom and gloom for the industry.

The fact is that, because billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising are highly visible in nature, they are still just as effective during the pandemic as they were before.

In fact, a recent study pooled the results of 65 outdoor advertising campaigns in the UK between March and September of 2020. In turn, the results showed that those who have continued to invest in outdoor advertising, despite the ongoing pandemic, benefitted from highly positive results.

For instance, an average, digital out of home ads saw an average increase of 51% in ad recall amongst consumers, as well as an average increase of 16% in terms of purchase intent.

As it stands, companies in the tech sector are one of the largest proponents of outdoor advertising, accounting for roughly 24% of the market share. 

However, there’s no denying the fact that OOH remains an extremely lucrative advertising strategy for businesses and brands in virtually any industry.

In fact, the top 5 largest companies that are making the most of their OOH ad campaigns are:

  • McDonald’s
  • Apple
  • Geico
  • American Express
  • Google

So with that in mind, for those companies that still haven’t jumped on the OOH bandwagon, it’s time to start thinking about out-of-home advertising for their next campaign.

The future of outdoor advertising

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, in the coming years, and COVID-19 aside, we should expect to see the industry grow at an average compound annual rate of 9.4%.

Furthermore, by the end of 2020, out-of-home advertising is expected to account for just under half (46%) of all outdoor ads.

With that said, in coming years, we should expect to see a range of trends in the OOH industry that will continue to drive growth and increasingly large returns for advertisers.

Interactivity and digitization are expected to be two of the most significant changes in the industry.

In the coming years, we can expect to see highly interactive outdoor advertisements, as well as OOH “smart advertisements” that will work in conjunction with smartphones and other devices.

For instance, today, roughly 25% of consumers have interacted with an outdoor ad using their smartphone, and this number is only expected to grow in the future.

Elsewhere, we should also expect to see a rise in outdoor advertisements using sensors, facial recognition software, as well as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which will only make advertisements even more personable and interactive for consumers.

Plus, due to the nature of these new types of advertising formats, companies can also gain invaluable insights into the way their customers consume and interact with any given advertisement. In turn, better insights mean better ads, and that means better ROIs and benefits for any given budget.

Conclusion

In the end, effective advertising needs to consider all potential mediums to generate the best ROI possible. This includes outdoor advertising, such as billboards and public posters, as well as in-home ads such as digital, TV, radio, etc.

Still, as it stands, outdoor is considered one of the most effective ad strategies currently available, and there’s simply no sign that’s it’s going to slow down any time soon.

By 2022, experts predict to see 2% to 3% growth in the industry, and by 2024, the value of the global market is predicted to reach a staggering USD $54.13 billion.

So with that said, it’s safe to say that brands taking advantage of this booming industry are sure to thrive in the coming years, while those who don’t are sure to be left in the dark.

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