Why billboards still work.
With such a broad spectrum of consumable media for brands to use, outdoor advertising doesn’t immediately emerge as the top option. Digital ads and email campaigns offer much better targeting. TV commercials are more dynamic. What do outdoor ads have that makes them so special?
People spend so much time in front of screens now that real-life advertisements have more power than they used to. Online browsers are masters at ignoring pop-up ads and banners, but when they see a billboard, street sign or other eye-catching object, they take a moment to look. For brands, that moment makes the difference between irrelevance and interest.
According to Nielsen, outdoor advertising is the most effective nondigital medium for generating online activity. Cracker Barrel asks people to take the exit to grab dinner, so they do. Other brands use outdoor ads to encourage online searches, which lead to engagement, purchases and loyalty.
The pathway from outdoor ads to increased revenue is straightforward — but success depends entirely on execution. Brands not only need to expand their presence outside, but also to create memorable experiences that make the most of their ad budgets. These tips reveal how:
1. Borrow from other brands and industries.
Outdoor advertising clearly works for other brands. If they do something right, take that idea and use it for a quick shortcut to successful advertising.
Instacart’s former expansion manager wrote in Adweek about his frustrations with the declining effectiveness of online ads. To remedy the problem, he took inspiration from billboards and subway posters. Even though he struggled to measure the effectiveness of his new collateral, the increase in subscribers (with no other campaigns running) spoke for itself.
Refashion any borrowed content to reflect your brand positioning. Keep the values and voice consistent while infusing new style to maximize the impact of the outdoor content.
2. Create eye-popping, interacting messaging and visuals.
Outdoor advertising exists in an interactive environment. Don’t paste up boring posters and expect customers to come running. Check local municipal regulations, and then think of inventive ways to subvert visual expectations and get viewers engaged with the ads.
Think about how brands stand out in Times Square or on the Las Vegas Strip. Interactive signs come to life for the viewers, moving and using hashtags and cameras to interact with their live audiences. Travelers take selfies with ads because the signs are an attraction all their own. The Times Square District Management Association reports that more than 355,000 people enter the heart of the square every day, so advertisers have plenty of opportunities to engage.