What Is OOH Anyway? An Introduction to Out of Home Advertising – Experts Talk It OUT

January 11, 2024

Out of home is the oldest form of advertising in the world and after thousands of years, it’s still a go-to for brands and businesses of all sizes. But if you’re a startup or a local business that’s new to out of home, it can be hard to know where to begin. 

That’s why we sat down with Julie Radlovic, Group Vice President and Head of National Sales Los Angeles, and Eddy Herty, Vice President and National Creative Director of STUDIOS, our in-house creative agency, to answer the questions: what is OOH, and why is billboard advertising effective? Please enjoy this introduction to out of home advertising!


First, Set Your Goals

So where to begin? Start by defining your objective. “It’s important to do a complete needs analysis to find out what exactly it is they’re trying to accomplish,” noted Julie. “You can actually buy the medium in a way that is tailored for exactly what you're trying to do and hit the goals that you're trying to reach.

Out of home’s versatility makes it impactful all the way through the customer journey, driving awareness, consideration, and purchase. Brick-and-mortar stores can use directional creative to point people in their direction, while digital brands often use shoppable QR codes to turn interest into engagement.

Out of home is a blank canvas to do whatever you want with,” Julie said, “and there’s not a lot of other places you can do that.”

Eddy elaborated. “These canvases show up on all your different consumer’s journeys – whether that’s in the outskirts of a city, in the subways, on the interstate, on a bus shelter or whatever. It’s not just one blank canvas, it’s many different types of billboards, many different types of blank canvases.”

Next, Align Your Creative

Billboard advertising is most effective when creative comes from a collaborative partnership between designer and brand. Eddy explained where the discovery process starts. “When we have that first initial talk, the main thing I ask is, how do you want the audience to feel? What do you want them to think about you? What’s that personality?

American Eagle XScape dimensional out of home ad on The Beast in Times Square
If marketing isn’t your wheelhouse, coming up with the perfect OOH ad creative might seem a daunting task. But there’s no need to be intimidated.

“I’ve heard a lot of advertisers say that they get nervous because they have to come up with this idea. They have to figure out what they want to say,” said Eddy. “But when you’re working with OUTFRONT, and specifically STUDIOS, we’re trying to provide as much of a service as possible. I just want you to show up and talk about why you do what you do – what you love doing. We want to truly understand what they’re passionate about. 

And once we nail down those talking points, we can help visualize that for them. And by the way, we’re not charging you anything for our agency-quality design services. Really, it's taking all that stress out of the experience.”

Then, Match Your Tactics 

Out of home is unique in that it’s a location-based medium whose success is often fueled by contextual relevance  – which means brands can do things not possible in channels not tied to a place. 

But how exactly do you do those things? “A lot of it will depend on who they're trying to target, what they're trying to do, what kind of message they're trying to get out there and also quite frankly what their budget is,” said Julie.

The IRL-ness of OOH allows advertisers to target actual locations, such as the vicinity of a retail store carrying its product. Out of home also can enable advertisers to reach desired demographics by pinpointing the neighborhoods where they live, work, and play. OOH campaigns can even be built around reaching a single individual!

An advertiser’s strategy and tactics should be informed by the objective. “For example, if you want to create mass awareness or general awareness in different markets,” Julie explained, “I would probably recommend doing frequency media, which is basically our transit media – buses, bus shelters, digital urban panels, video urban panels, things that are all over the cities. You can really spread your dollar pretty far doing frequency media.”

Away ultra super king ad on Washington DC bus designed by STUDIOS
As far as digital out of home versus static, again it really just depends on what you're trying to do. We have a lot of clients that don't like digital because they don't like to share space. They like to be the only one on the platform. “Some of our cool creative capabilities, such as extensions, buildouts or 3D elements, you can’t do if you’re sharing space with another person.

However, digital offers a lot of flexibility with your creative messaging. You can change out your creative at any time or daypart it so if you're Dunkin' and you want to promote coffee in the morning and donuts in the afternoon, digital allows you that."

Finally, Leverage OOH Everywhere

While much of OOH’s power comes from its versatility, its success is also driven by its simplicity. And by distilling down brand and messaging to something people can absorb driving by at 65 miles an hour, marketers can then infuse that essence into their efforts across the board, cascading into TV, print, digital, and even sometimes merch!

When clients do out of home correctly, once you get that basic idea across, you have a foundation that you can literally build all your other campaigns on top of,” Eddy said. “You can build any other media format from there."

Billboard for Drive radio station designed by STUDIOS
And not only can out of home inform the look-and-feel of a brand elsewhere, it helps optimize the overall media mix and squeeze the most juice out of your ad dollars, even the ones spent elsewhere. For example, OOH increases the ROI of search by 40% (SOURCE: Benchmarketing) and makes consumers 48% more likely to click on a mobile ad after encountering that brand out of home (SOURCE: Ocean Neuro Insights).

And speaking of clicks, OOH is immune from many of the problems that have plagued digital advertising in recent years. “It’s the most legitimate form of media,” said Julie. “There’s no fraud, it’s unskippable. You can’t fast forward, pause, or avoid it – you’re sitting at a stoplight and it’s just there in front of your face.” There’s also no brand safety risk because you know exactly what your ad is going to be next to.

Conclusion: You Got This!

We hope this guide to out of home advertising has been illuminating, and that you’re now eager to get your first campaign going. If you’re ready to go down that road, nobody gives you an edge like OUTFRONT.

Because we leverage the power of technology, location, and creativity to drive impactful engagements between brands and audiences. And we’d love to help you get closer to yours. Contact OUTFRONT today to learn more.

Author: Jay Fenster, Marketing Manager @ OUTFRONT

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