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Tech companies like Facebook and Google are leading the way in the world of online advertising. Yet when they want to spread the word about their newest product or feature, they turn to out-of-home advertising, buying billboard ads around the world.

They’re not alone. In mid-2018, Reddit co-founder Alexis O’Hanian announced a substantial investment in a digital billboard booking company called AdQuick. Around the same time, it was announced that Netflix had purchased assets from a prominent billboard company in Los Angeles.

The reason is simple: For all the strengths of online ads, when you want a message to get noticed, you go with out-of-home.

What is out-of-home advertising?

Out-of-home advertising (OOH) is any visual advertising media found outside of the home. This can include billboards and signs, ads on street furniture like bus shelters or benches, in transit areas like airports or train stations, and place-based ad media like you might see at a stadium, cheap hotels Amsterdam or in the cinema. These various formats account for thousands of locations and millions of screens around the world.

OOH is an expansive category, and today represents spending of about $29 billion across key markets around the world. Some of the world’s most important advertisers, including McDonalds, Apple, Amazon, HBO, and Coca-Cola, all make regular and extensive use of various OOH formats in their campaigns.

Example: Apple’s clever “Shot on an iPhone” billboard campaign invited its customers to send in photos shot on their iPhones. Standouts were turned into billboards that appealed to onlookers’ aspirations.

Why media buyers love ooh advertising?

Online advertising can be a little frustrating for media buyers. Ad blockers are in widespread use, and those users who don’t use ad blockers are so bombarded with advertising that it’s difficult to stand out. If an ad’s not above the fold on a popular site, its odds of being seen are not the greatest even when using promo code discount and vouchers.

These aren’t worries with out-of-home. Billboards, signs, digital screens, and the rest of the out-of-home family are unskippable. They’re also unblockable, short of holding a hand up in front of your eyes. There’s no fold to be lost beneath and no shortage of visibility. In other words, they’re the ideal vehicle for the big, colorful messages that brands are trying to get out.

Media buyers who have made out-of-home a part of their multichannel campaigns have found that doing so provides an important boost to their other channels, too. Research from Ocean NeuroScience found that “consumers are 48% more likely to click on a mobile ad after being exposed to the same ad on an out-of-home ad first.” Similarly, Nielsen and the OAAA found that 46% of surveyed adults had conducted an online search after first seeing the object of their search in an OOH ad. Similar results were also seen with leading social networks using promo code for hotels.

Today, OOH is enjoying significant upwards momentum, with savvy marketers devoting more of their budgets to OOH campaigns. Of traditional media categories, it is the only one currently growing, at just over 2% in 2018. The industry as a whole is expected to reach about $33 billion in sales by 2021.

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