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

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 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 outdoor advertising?

Also known as out-of-home or outdoor media, outdoor advertising 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 its 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 some of the earliest records 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. 

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. 

Different types of outdoor advertising

Now that you know a bit more about where outdoor advertising has come from let’s review some of the different types and details of OOH ads. 

Billboard Advertising

By far, billboards are one of the most popular forms out outdoor (OOH) advertising. In fact, 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 message in front of their audience. 

Dynamo LED Displays, is currently leading 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.

The company specializes in LED billboard displays, which are one of the most captivating tools used to grab consumers attention. Additionally, they offer an extensive range of LED screen products, to this day, they continue to increase their global footprint. 

Posters And Public Street Furniture

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

Typically, these 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 audience.

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 people who are already in the mood to make a purchase anyway. 

Cinema Advertising

Advertising in theatres or cinemas is yet another extremely effective OOH advertising strategy. 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 OOH advertising mediums is known as guerilla or stunt advertising. Essentially, guerilla marketing uses surprise or unconventional public interactions to create hype and attract consumer 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.

While Red Bull never officially released numbers on how much revenue the stunt generated, some experts believe that Red Bull 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, especially in contrast to regular cityscape scenery. But more importantly, brands everywhere have been flocking towards OOH 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 by in the 1970s. In 2006, on the other hand, this number rose to a 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! 

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

In fact, outdoor ads often have a lower CPM (cost per thousand) 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 audience – carefully placed OOH ads have the potential for a tremendous amount of exposure. 
  • To gain more coverage and impressions from consumers – ads 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 adaptation 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 it’s 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 just over 8%, which cancels out any growth from previous years, equivalent to a loss of roughly $50 billion due changes in consumer behaviour.

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. 

So with that in mind, for those companies that still haven’t jumped on the OOH bandwagon, it’s time to start thinking about OOH 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. 

For instance, interactivity and digitization are expected to be two of the most significant changes in the industry. 

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


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 (OOH) advertising is considered as one of the most effective ad strategies currently available. 

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