Be it state-of-the-art digital billboards (some of which even talk to you), ads on the side of a city bus and the back of a taxi, or coffee cups from the corner deli, outdoor advertising can be a most cost-effective, highly visible, and creative way to get exposure for your business.
Lately the outdoor (also known as “out-of-home”) advertising business has exploded, ranking as the second fastest growing ad medium (behind the Internet) for several years running. Several factors have led to this, including the rapid advancement of outdoor-media technology, demographic and behavioral changes, and the declining power of other media options due to their fragmentation and rising costs.
While large national advertisers such as Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s rank among the heaviest users of outdoor media, it is principally a local marketing medium. Seven out of 10 outdoor ads, in fact, promote local businesses, according to the trade group Outdoor Advertising Association of America.
One of the most powerful selling points of outdoor advertising for local businesses is its extreme versatility, its visibility in the local community, and its affordability relative to other media such as TV and newspapers.
The number of outdoor ad options for your business are almost too numerous to list. The following include some of the most popular:
- Billboards: These are, of course, the best known outdoor venues as well as one of the most visible and well-established forms of advertising (older than TV, radio, and the Internet). Technology in recent years has paved the way for digital billboards, which shift from message to message at a single location, making them more cost-efficient and possible to change instantly.
- Street furniture: Take your message to the streets via such options as bicycle racks, bus shelters, phone booths, newsstands, kiosks, and in-store advertising.
- Transit: This includes airports, buses, and taxis.
- Alternative: The range of options here is almost endless. They range from cups and containers from local restaurants, packaging from local dry cleaners, and ads on gas pumps, vending carts, trash receptacles, and even the big screen via the slides we have all seen in local theaters before a movie starts.
More Americans are spending much more time outside the home these days, be it commuting to and from work or spending time with the family at local shopping malls, sporting events, and community happenings. This makes outdoor advertising a highly visible marketing option for your business. Just think about how many times a day, every day, you see a local business promoted as you go about your day: on a bus shelter, in the back of a cab, on a paper coffee cup, in a subway or commuter train car.
Whereas a local TV spot or newspaper ad may be beyond the marketing budget of your business, outdoor advertising is one of the most cost-efficient mediums around due to its range of creative options and mass exposure. These ads boast a more favorable cost-per-thousand (the amount you pay per consumer who sees your ad) than other local media options. As they are location-based, ads can be tailored to a particular area or demographic, eliminating the waste that goes along with promoting your business among those who are not prospects. Likewise, the ads can also be positioned for maximum exposure if your objective is to reach the masses.
Exactly how do you evaluate whether harnessing the power of local outdoor media is right for your business? There are a number of resources for you to consult, including local ad agencies, many of which specialize in outdoor media; vendors who manage ad messages alongside outdoor venues in your community (their name and contact information typically appears somewhere near the ad); and trade groups, including the OAAA and the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau, both of which offer an array of information on the benefits outdoor ads offer and market-by-market specialists in outdoor advertising.