Topic overview

Billboards and outdoor advertising

Billboards and outdoor advertising

If you need to make a big impact in your local area, outdoor advertising can raise your profile and deliver results. Poster ads put your message right in front of your potential customers.

Why outdoor advertising works

While some traditional advertising media are in decline, outdoor is growing. It works because it is seen by everyone who leaves their house.

Poster advertising is attention-grabbing, and does not require the audience to do anything to see it. You don't have to tune in or click onto it or turn a page.

At the same time, most people regard it as less intrusive than other advertising methods. Indeed, a lot of outdoor advertising is engaging, providing colour, humour and interest. In locations where it sits in front of a captive audience - on public transport or at waiting rooms, for instance - it can even be seen as a welcome distraction.

Where to advertise outdoors

Outdoor promotion is not just about massive billboards on the side of the road. There are poster sites and sizes to suit all budgets. Your choice will be driven by how well you understand your target market.

If your target market is largely defined by geographical location, a few well-chosen poster spots and advertising signs in your area could raise your business' profile and drive sales.

Public transport provides opportunities to get valuable outdoor exposure for your business. Advertising spaces on buses, trains, trams, the tube, in taxis and at airports are all highly visible, and put your message in front of a captive audience. They are ideal if you are targeting business people and commuters in your area.

Outdoor advertising on the high street and in shopping centres catches your potential customers while they are in shopping mode. A good poster campaign can prompt people to buy your products there and then, especially if you are running a promotion as an incentive.

Creative posters and outdoor campaigns

One of the key considerations for any outdoor advertising campaign is how long the audience will view the ad for. A roadside billboard has to convey its message in seconds, while other sites, such as station platforms, buses and taxis, may be studied for longer.

Distance is also a factor. Roadside posters need to be simple, with clear images and as few words as possible.

Advertisements that will be seen for longer allow you to include more information. Details of a specific promotion, a call to action and contact details can be given.

However, a simple message and a clear identity are always essential. Colours should be bold and the ad should be easily visible from a distance. Humour, strong images and wordplay will make an impact and make your message more memorable.

Buying outdoor space

Most outdoor advertising is planned and bought via specialist agencies, although it is possible to deal directly with the owner of the advertising space.

The key consideration in terms of choosing a site is audience measurement, or "reach". When choosing your sites, ask about the reach of each one. A good contractor will be able to tell you how many people see the site, and what types of people pass by.

Use your own premises and vehicles

Don't forget to make the best use of your own premises. Good signage is essential. It is also worth customising your company car or van. Vehicle advertising is highly visible and it conveys an aura of success and professional pride. It can also carry your contact details.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.