Out-of-home advertising

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Out of Home advertising (or OOH advertising, OOH Media) is advertising that reaches the consumer while they are outside the home.

Out of Home advertising is focused on marketing to consumers when they are "on the go" in public places, in transit, waiting (such as in a medical office), and/or in specific commercial locations (such as in a retail venue). OOH advertising formats fall into four main categories: billboards, street furniture, transit, and alternative.[1]

The OOH advertising industry in the USA includes more than 2,100 operators in 50 states representing the major out of home format categories. These OOH media companies range from public, multinational media corporations to small, independent, family-owned businesses.


Billboard advertising is a traditional OOH advertising format, but there has been significant growth in digital OOH (digital billboards and place-based networks) in recent years; for example, about 4,900 digital billboard displays have been installed in the United States.[2]

Traditional roadside billboards remain the predominant form of OOH advertising in the US with 66 percent of total annual revenue. Today, billboard revenue is 73 percent local ads, 18 percent national ads, and 9 percent public service ads.[3]

Street furniture is made up of formats such as bus shelters, newsracks, mall kiosks, and telephone booth advertising. This form of OOH advertising is mainly seen in urban centers. Additionally, this form of advertising provides benefits to communities, as building and maintaining the shelters people use while waiting for the bus.

Transit advertising is typically advertising placed on anything which moves, such as buses, subway advertising, truckside, food trucks,and taxis, but also includes fixed static and electronic advertising at train and bus stations and platforms. Airport advertising, which helps businesses address an audience while traveling, is also included in this category. Municipalities often accept this form of advertising, as it provides revenue to city and port authorities.

Street furniture, transit, and alternative media formats comprise 34 percent of total outdoor revenue in the US. Some of these formats have a higher percentage of national ads than traditional billboards.[4]

Digital Out of Home

Digital Out of Home (DOOH) refers to dynamic media distributed across placed-based networks in venues including, but not limited to: cafes, bars, restaurants, health clubs, colleges, arenas, gas stations, convenience stores, barber shops, and public spaces.PQ Media defines DOOH by two major platforms, digital place-based networks (DPN) and digital billboards & signage (DBB); DOOH networks typically feature independently addressable screens, kiosks, jukeboxes and/or jumbotrons. DOOH media benefits location owners and advertisers alike in being able to engage customers and/or audiences and extend the reach and effectiveness of marketing messages. It is also referred to as Digital Signage.

The overall industry grew 19 percent to $8.3 billion between 2011 and 2012,[5] according to Patrick Quinn, CEO and founder of PQ Media, a Connecticut-based research and consulting firm. Quinn said gas station television is one of the largest and fastest growing segments of that category, based in part on its verifiable audience. With digital TVs in gas stations, nearly 52 million customers are getting snippets of weather, sports highlights, celebrity gossip and commercials with their gas each month, according to Nielsen. The weekly reach is actually larger than most of the prime-time TV shows. The largest company in the space is Gas Station TV with 27.5 million monthly viewers at more than 1,100 stations across the U.S., according to Nielsen.[6] In addition to the large number of viewers, the audience profile of TVs at gas stations is unique. All are drivers and 76 percent are adults from age 18-49 with a median age of 40 and median household income over 70.000 dollar.[7] According to the Nielsen Intercept Studies, 89 percent of the consumers are engaged and watching TV at the gas station and 88 percent love watching every time they fuel because they have nothing else to do.

The reason that this category is growing so rapidly is because busy people are typically busy at home and with the introduction and acceptance of digital video recorders (DVRs), it has diluted the frequency with which traditional television commercials are viewed. Every day more TV viewers are skipping past commercials with their DVRs, making out-of-home advertising all the more appealing.[8] A Nielsen media research study in 2009 showed that 91 percent of DVR owners skipped commercials. As a result, traditional TV advertisers are hungry for an effective substitute, and digital out-of-home ads appear to be one of the solutions. Digital out of home advertising seems to be a cost-effective way for promoting or marketing any brand or product. Usage of billboards and displays for brand promotion is a less expensive way of advertising than television, radio, newspapers and other mediums.

DOOH also includes stand-alone screens, kiosks, and interactive media found in public places. The availability of inexpensive LCD screens with built-in media players has opened the door for companies to add interactive video messages in point of purchase (POP) displays. The displays allow consumers to get additional information at the moment of decision on a product or service. Growth in the DOOH industry has been increasing in 2009, with more POP manufacturers, advertisers, and content developers moving to digital.

Non-Digital Out of Home

Vinyl decals allowing use of windows, on a side and rear advertisement for alcohol on a Berlin bus

Non-digital out-of-home refers to other types of media distributed across physical spaces.[9] These are:[citation needed]

Aerial Advertising - Towing banners overhead of beaches, events and gridlock traffic via a fixed wing aircraft

Airship Advertising - An airship can provide one of the physically largest out-of-home advertising platforms.

Billboard bicycle is a new type of mobile advertising in which a bike tows a billboard with an advertising message. This method is a cost efficient, targeted, and environmentally friendly form of advertising.

File:Mobile Bicycle Billboard from Singapore, April 9 2013.jpg
Billboard Bicycle in East Coast Park, Singapore

Brochure Distribution - Information displays in public gathering spaces such as transportation centers, lodging facilities, visitor centers, attractions, and retail environments are targeted ways to distribute highly effective messaging to a targeted audience. This method is slightly different than traditional OOH as the consumer self-selects the messaging material and can take that message with them.

Bulletin - Bulletin billboards are usually located in highly visible, heavy traffic areas such as expressways, primary arteries, and major intersections. With extended periods of high visibility, billboard advertisements provide advertisers with significant impact on commuters. This is the largest standard out of home advertising format, usually measuring at 11x48 in overall size.

Bus advertising - Firmly establish brand awareness and generate quick recall with high profile exposure near point of purchase locations.

Commuter rail display - Reaches a captive audience of upscale suburban commuters. Additionally, reaches lunch-time patrons, shoppers and business professionals.

ComPark advertising - ComPark is a device used for car park advertising; which is placed onto the parallel lines of a bay and is able to gain instant exposure from motorists that have just parked their vehicle. The ComPark also serves as a guide to assist motorist in adhering to the parking bay size.

Lamppost banner advertising - Lamp columns are sited everywhere, allowing advertisers and events to use banners to target precise geographical locations and create massive promotional awareness.

Mobile billboard - Mobile billboards offer a great degree of flexibility to advertisers. These advertisements can target specific routes, venue or events, or can be used to achieve market saturation. A special version is the inflatable billboard which can stand free nearly everywhere. This product can also be used for outdoor movie nights.

Mobile inflatable billboard

Postcards - Free advertising postcards available in venues such as cafes & bars, arts & cultural institutions, universities and high schools. Postcards are taken from a specially designed display unit with signage indicating the postcards are free for the general public to take.

Poster - Target local audiences with these billboards, which are highly visible to vehicular traffic and are ideal for the introduction of new products/services. Marketers use posters to achieve advertising objectives and increase brand awareness by placing multiple units in strategic locations while lowering the cost per thousand impressions. This is a standardized poster format, typically measuring 12'3" x 24'6"; formally known as a 30-Sheet Poster.

Premier panel - Premiere panels combine the frequency and reach of a poster campaign with the creative impact of a bulletin.

Premier square - Bright top and bottom illumination on a premiere panel provide extra impact after dark.

Street advertising - The use of pavements and street furniture to create media space for brands to get their message onto the street in a cost-effective approach.

Taxi advertising - Taxi advertising allows advertisers to highlight their products, whether brand awareness, or a targeted message, directly to areas where people work, shop, and play.

Wallscape - Wallscapes are attached to buildings and are able to accommodate a wide variety of unusual shapes and sizes. These billboard advertisements are visible from a distance and provide tremendous impact in major metro areas.

Other types of non-digital OOH advertising include airport displays; transit and bus-shelter displays; headrest displays; double-sided panels; junior posters; and mall displays.

Regulations on out of home advertising

Different jurisdictions regulate outdoor advertising to different degrees.

  • In the US, the states of Vermont, Hawaii, Maine, and Alaska prohibit all billboards.
  • The other 46 US states permit multiple forms of OOH advertising.
  • Billboards are regulated by all levels of government. The regulatory framework, created by the federal Highway Beautification Act (HBA), calls for billboards to be located in commercial and industrial areas. Billboard permits are issued by state and local authorities. Under the Highway Beautification Act, states have strong regulatory powers including the authority to ban billboards.
  • Most states have taken steps to regulate digital (electronic) billboards, which feature static images that change (typically) every six or eight seconds. In 2007, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued Guidance to the states regarding regulation of digital billboards. Scenic America challenged the federal Guidance in federal court on procedural grounds. On June 20, 2014, US District Court Judge James E. Boasberg dismissed this case, with prejudice.
  • Regulations governing digital billboards prohibit animation and scrolling. Digital billboards are equipped with light sensors to adjust billboard lighting to surrounding light conditions to avoid glare, per the industry code.
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil established an almost total outdoor advertising ban in 2006. The ban required that all billboard and banner advertisements be removed and that store signs be greatly reduced in size and prominence.[10]

Emerging technologies

Media fragmentation, competition from online media, as well as the need for greater efficiencies in media buying prompted companies to offer billboard inventory aggregation services Interactive services are becoming increasingly more common with the move to digital outdoor advertising, such as allowing the public to connect, share and interact through their mobile devices in particular through WiFi connections.[11]

See also


  1. "Outdoor Media Formats". oaaa.org. 
  2. "Number of Displays". oaaa.org. Archived from the original on 12 March 2010. 
  3. OAAA
  4. "Outdoor Pie Chart". oaaa.org. 
  5. "OOH! 3 DIGITAL OUT-OF-HOME TRENDS FOR 2014". www.oaaa.org. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  6. By Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune, November 29, 2011, entitled "Networks Compete For Gas Station Viewers"
  7. Nielsen Intercept Studies 2006-2011, 2010 Doublebase GfK MRI
  8. Los Angeles Times, May 27, Alana Semuels, Staff Writer "Now showing very near you..."
  9. Hans-Jürgen Tast: Immer mit einem Lächeln auf den Lippen! Die bunte Fotoflut im Straßenbild., Kulleraugen Vis.Komm. Nr. 43, Schellerten 2013, ISBN 978-3-88842-043-6.
  10. "Sao Paulo: The City With No Outdoor Advertisements". www.amusingplanet.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  11. "About Interactive Outdoor". www.publicdataweb.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 

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