We’ve all seen ads on billboards, on park benches, on buses, and on just about every other flat surface available for rent, but have you ever wondered how effective they really are? These types of ads are collectively known as outdoor advertising, and the truth is, they do their job well. “Outdoor advertising” refers to any advertising that takes place outside a particular consumer’s home, and it has been proven to be quite adept at bringing attention to specific brands, new products, or anything else that might need a bit of attention. This method of advertising is seen as particularly effective in large cities, but what exactly makes outdoor advertising in Seattle, or any other large city, so effective?
The first reason outdoor advertising is so effective in large cities is the simple fact that there are a lot of people there. A lot of people means a lot of eyes, particularly when the ads are in places where the audience might be captive, say while riding public transportation or when stuck in traffic. It also often means repetition as these same people might pass a given ad time and time again throughout the day, the week, etc. Effective advertising is all about the audience, and in cities not only is there a large, diverse audience consistently present, a lot of their information is already known by the advertisers, which goes a long way in targeted advertising as well.
Additionally, large cities have an abundance of locations in which to place advertisements. There are various neighborhoods to consider, places of business, types of commuters, and the list goes on. Large cities are great for rotational advertising, which can be a huge time and money-saver. Some of the many options for stationary advertising locations include, but are not limited to: billboards, bus shelters, park benches, newsstands, stadiums, kiosk/bulletin posters, etc. Each of these locations has its fair share of pros and cons, which can be directly correlated to the targeted promotion and its intended audience.
In addition to the question of where, cities also answer the question of how particularly well. There are plenty of traditional locations and forms of outdoor advertising as mentioned above, but there are also many mobile options in the city. With the help of mass transit, ads carried through local bus, taxi, and/or subway systems effortlessly spread messages across a city multiple times per day. There are also less commonly thought of forms of advertising, such as grocery cart ads or the distribution of bumper stickers. The variety that life in the city offers consumers can also be utilized by the producers and their advertisers.
Something that not everyone thinks of when considering various methods of advertising is the level of creativity a given form allows. Outdoor advertising offers several elements that digital marketing does not. For one, billboards, and the like, have a fixed context which allows marketers to feed off of shared experiences and local knowledge. Outdoor advertising also takes place in a physical space, which means interaction and the use of three-dimensional elements is a possibility. Some of the most popular ads in recent history are ones that have blurred the lines between “ad space” and “real life”.
Another huge advantage outdoor advertising has in today’s society is its inescapability. Unlike digital advertising, people do not have the power to close or minimize physical, outdoor ads like they do the many popups and digital ads inundating their screens. For this reason, coupled with the fact that well-placed ads also have increased potential for impulse buying, outdoor ads are significantly more likely to be effective on large swaths of the population. Additionally, outdoor ads lack the stigma that is often attached to online ads, which tend to be seen as interruptions rather than enhancements or entertainment.
But ultimately, it all comes down to price. This is another area where outdoor advertising shines. Digital ads can be extremely pricey, particularly if you want to guarantee a large audience. They are also naturally going to be more targeted in that you will have to piggy-back on other products, services, or forms of media in order to get your message out there. Outdoor ads, on the other hand, are quite affordable and are typically open to much wider audiences. There are also many customizations and options available when it comes to outdoor advertising, thus there is often quite a range of price points to choose from.
Overall, advertising has countless possibilities nowadays, but the old stand-bys are stand-bys for a reason. Outdoor advertising, especially in large cities, is extremely effective and affordable. Add a dash of creativity, and you’ve got yourself a magic formula for effective publicity.