If you’ve ever traveled on I-90 on your way to Mount Rushmore, the Badlands or the Black Hills, you may have seen billboards for miles to the east and west for Wall Drug. If you’ve ever been to Times Square, this phenomenon is far more noticeable with print or digital displays covering nearly every surface in sight. Out-of-home advertising has been around for hundreds of years, but in the digital age, like all things, the medium is evolving.
Some of the advancements being made in out-of-home advertising are changing the way we think about the space. Digital displays can become dynamic based on the speed of traffic on the interstate or peak search trends within a specific area. Like its online counterpart, consumer data is being leveraged to make the out-of-home experience even more personalized. Delta and Equinox partnered last year to promote a “Sweatlag” workout, designed to ease jet lag, using dynamic billboards and incoming flight data to target specific consumers.
But it’s important to consider both the positives and negatives when thinking about out-of-home advertising as part of your media plan. Consumers are spending massive amounts of time in front of screens on a daily basis.1 They are also getting increasingly adept at ignoring and avoiding marketing attached to the content they are consuming. This is why outdoor displays are becoming an advantageous alternative. They aren’t skippable and are a part of the environment in which consumers live.
Additionally, a creative outdoor display can become viral and “Instagrammable,” helping to extend the reach of the brand. Spotify’s #DavidBowieIsHere campaign visually took over a New York City subway station, using a hashtag and app integration for multiple consumer touchpoints. However, public art has become largely saturated by branded displays like murals, so outside the box thinking that has legs to become viral and spurs consumer engagement must be considered to succeed in the out-of-home market.
Another consideration is that ROI can be more difficult to track than online media investment. There are ways to track specific engagements such as search trends based on location, specific codes associated with a CTA or geographic surveys, but they aren’t fool proof. Unless the out-of-home display is the only advertising in market, it can be difficult to pinpoint the direct effect on ROI.
Digital and television still dominate media spend, but brands and marketers are always looking for new ways to reach consumers.2 According to a study that surveyed 1,200 consumers, 69 percent said they trust outdoor ads and public displays when making a purchase decision, a higher clip than social, video and banner ads.3 With the ability to target high-priority areas, viral capabilities and technological advancements, marketers would be smart to consider out-of-home in media plans and be willing to be creative and extend their boundaries in order to make consumers stop and say, “Wow!”