Think local: why outdoor ads give the best bang for your buck

By: Daniel Jones

Date: 20 June 2019

A billboard shows the words "Think outside the box" while a businessman looks on.

Even though you're reading this on the internet, the best advertising opportunities may exist in the real world. Billboard and street site advertising remain one of the most effective ways to build a brand, especially for a local or regional audience.

Let's take a quick look at how this works.

Building brand awareness locally

Outdoor advertising formats, such as signs provided by Kloeckner, traditional billboards, and digital billboards, all represent powerful ways to capture attention and communicate with consumers subconsciously.

A driver may have clear view of a large billboard for no more than five seconds, but a great deal can occur during this time. Not only will the driver be more likely to access your brand, products, or services if they take in the information pictured on a billboard, they will also "digest" your brand identity on a subconscious level.

Rinse and repeat for the five days of the work week, and you've got thousands of passing commuters who are at least passingly familiar with your brand

If you display your sign at street level, the benefits can be just as rewarding. Street traffic passes these signs in lesser numbers than with cars on a motorway - but street cars and people on foot also travel more slowly, which increases the amount of time they have to interact with your signage.

For these reasons, it is sometimes thought that out-of-home (OOH) advertising is more effective, impression for impression, than online.

Do people really grow immune to advertising?

Online, we're constantly inundated with adverts, and many feel they grow immune to it. When we're out in the real world, our guard is down, and we're a bit more pleased to interact with commercials that relate to our real-world local interests. 

In either case, however, people aren't quite as immune to advertising as we think. A highway billboard might seem commonplace, simply part of the landscape - but research shows that classic advertising forms such as this actually work. 

Ad impressions translate into consumer knowledge and action in the following ways:

  1. We have around 5,000 exposures to brands and logos each day. These are ads placed within sight or hearing distance. The consumer may not be actively conscious of these ads, but studies show that they still penetrate the subconscious and memory. 
  2. We have around 350 exposures to ads in a given day. Ads are more complex than simple brands or logos. They communicate more complex thoughts, and when consumed tend to make deeper impressions upon the subject. 
  3. We give an ad our full attention (for at least a couple of seconds) around 150 times each day. 
  4. We contemplate and engage with around 90 ads a day. These might be viewed on TV, built into a free Spotify account, or interspersed with YouTube videos, for example. 
  5. We experience emotional engagement with around 10 ads a day. In these cases, the subject might see a cool poster or an eye-catching billboard. They then think about what's going on in the ad, and let it motivate them to buy the product or service being advertised. 

With so many impressions being made each day, no one is truly immune to advertising. In fact, all of us probably engage with a lot more advertising than we like to imagine.

But the question remains, is real-world advertising more effective than online advertising? And in what situations would one be preferable to the other? 

Making outdoor advertising work for you

Generally speaking, outdoor advertising works well for localised brands, or brands sufficiently large that total market penetration is desired.

For a regional business, OOH advertising can create the impression that the business is an important pillar of the community. Investing in street signage can also direct footfall towards your premises. 

Similarly, using physical posters to advertise a local event, such as a concert or festival, may still be the best way to raise interest in the same geographical area in which the event is to occur.

By comparison, online advertising is borderless by necessity . Even when Facebook ads target residents of specific areas, they're not as effective at rallying specific regional interest as physical signs placed in strategic locations. 

Some businesses have completely abandoned traditional, physical advertising, and this is usually a mistake. While online promotion is indispensable for many firms, outdoor adverts may pack a harder punch for others.

Humans see countless brands and advertisements each day, but we genuinely engage with comparatively few. Outdoor advertising can help you and your brand vie for those precious few active engagements. It is low-cost, and though it is localised, its effect can be much more powerful than that of web ads.

Try it, and see how it might mobilise potential customers in your community. 

Copyright 2019. Article was written by Daniel Jones

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