Is Out of Home Marketing Right for You?

The internet has drastically affected all types of traditional small business marketing—except for one. Out-of-home advertising is the only type of advertising that hasn't declined due to digital advertising, according to a report from Borrell. In fact, spending on out-of-home advertising has grown consistently since 2008–except for a small decline in 2014–and is expected to keep rising for the next five years.

As the name implies, out-of-home (OOH) advertising refers to advertising in places outside the home (as opposed to TV and radio advertising or ads in print media, which come into the home). OOH can include billboards, bus shelter or bench signage, posters and signage in malls, arenas and stadiums; bus, taxi or other vehicle wraps; pre-roll movie ads in theaters; posters and signage in commuter stations and inside buses, trains or railway cars; and “place-based” advertising such as signs in restaurants, bars and health clubs.

If your business targets a local clientele, out-of-home advertising can be a great addition to your marketing mix. According to industry organization OAAA, out-of-home advertising generates more positive emotional responses in viewers than TV or radio. It also reaches a captive audience—people can't “block” a transit station ad or change the channel. In addition, the cost per impression is significantly lower than that for TV, radio or many forms of online advertising.

Out-of-home advertising is also quite effective. Borrell reports that among consumers who viewed any out-of-home advertising in the past month, some 61 percent take action. Specifically, 40 percent visited a restaurant that was advertised, 39 percent visited a store that was advertised and 29 percent shopped a sale that was advertised within the week.

The rise of mobile search and shopping behavior has helped drive the effectiveness of out-of-home advertising. Smart advertisers incorporate digital aspects into their out-of-home advertising. Even if the sign or poster itself isn't digital, you can include your website URL or a landing page URL in the ad and encourage customers to visit it on their smartphones. After all, what are most people in public places doing these days? Staring at their smartphones. You can also include QR codes that customers can scan to get more information. Three in ten viewers search online after seeing an out-of-home ad.

Interested in trying out-of-home advertising? Here are some tips to help you succeed:

  • Match the ad campaign to the location. Think about what people are likely to do in each potential location will help you choose the right spot for your ad. For example, customers at a bar may be more receptive to place-based ads for restaurants that are open late, local taxi companies or even lawyers who help clients deal with drunk driving charges. A public place that attracts tourists would be a captive audience for ads for restaurants, tours or recreational activities.
  • Keep it simple. Viewers won't spend a lot of time looking at your out-of-home ad—in many cases, such as a billboard or poster in a train station, they've only got a few seconds to take it in as they whiz by. If the ad will be seen from a distance, both copy and design must have a strong impact. Use an image that reinforces your copy, and include a call-to-action.
  • Use your website to close the sale. You don't have room to add a lot of detail in your out-of-home ad. Instead, create a landing page on your business website that has the details, and put a URL and/or QR code in the ad to drive customers there. When they do arrive at the landing page, make sure it's mobile-friendly, since out-of-home ad viewers will most likely be smartphone users. Also make sure the call-to-action is clearly stated—you don't want prospects to go to your website and then not be sure what to do.

Working with an agency that specializes in out-of-home advertising can help you design an effective ad and choose the best place to run it.

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