Advertising intersects with consumers throughout their day in every imaginable way. In every interaction with media, advertisers have the chance to connect, engage and convert. One of the oldest types is out-of-home advertising, known as OOH. Its roots run back to early civilizations, including the Egyptians. It remains a staple of 21st-century advertising.

While OOH can be great for brand awareness, it’s not as sticky for conversions, and tracking is challenging without using special codes, numbers, websites or QR codes. Some local advertisers will always invest in OOH for visibility. After years of reduced spending, the numbers were up in 2021, with growth projections through 2026.

So, how do you effectively sell against OOH advertising? Let’s look at some scenarios where digital could replace or complement this traditional ad medium.

Restricted Categories Depend Greatly on OOH; They Can Use Digital, Too

The ability to advertise digitally for several products comes with hurdles because of restrictions. Common restricted categories include cannabis and CBD, alcohol, gambling and political. Thus, in states where these activities are legal, advertisers spend a lot on OOH budgets. It’s great exposure, but tracking the impact is tricky, with ROAS (return on ad spend) murky.

You can offer these brands digital advertising through alternative DSPs (demand-side platforms). Adhering to any state laws around content still applies to the three types of ads you can run:

  • Static display (standard and with geofencing)
  • Video display (standard and with geofencing)
  • Retargeting (including clicks, impressions and past locations)

Targeting for these tactics includes demographics (must be 21+), behaviors and interests, geography, and previous online behaviors (e.g., clicks or impressions). It could be a key differentiator for your media company and could generate revenue for you and trackable results for clients. These advertisers will always want billboard exposure, but diverting budgets to digital will amplify everything.

Only Digital Delivers Targeting

OOH ads have the potential to meet many eyeballs. As a result, the content needs to be generic, so it will be more relevant to anyone. Thus, targeting isn’t possible. When OOH does attempt to target, there’s no guarantee that anyone within that group will see it. Broad messaging can be fine for brand awareness but rarely drives people down the funnel.

Digital advertising enables full-funnel marketing and could lift the first “impression” from the billboard or taxi sign. A person may turn to search hours or days later with a need, and your client should be showing up in search with local SEM (search engine marketing) campaigns.

OOH Measurement Is Difficult

Of course, OOH is tricky to measure. It could be part of the customer journey, but your advertisers need sophisticated frameworks. We mentioned earlier that tracking could be possible if the sign offers a unique URL or phone number. A QR code taking people to a landing page would also help, but that’s asking someone to take action immediately, which isn’t always possible or safe!

Instead, advertisers may have some context about the OOH campaigns, but tying it to conversions is harder. So, why do so many industries still love it? Name recognition and remaining top of mind is often the case for professional services like attorneys, real estate agents and insurance brokers. Restaurants, especially fast food, are counting on consumers to take an exit and dine with them.

For digital, you can measure everything, and your advertisers can get insights from this information to optimize what worked well. Gaining intelligence on an OOH campaign like this would be nearly impossible. You could encourage OOH buyers to add geofencing display in the areas, which could boost foot traffic for restaurants. For example, a consumer pulls up to one place and sees ads from a nearby competitor with a limited-time deal.

Messaging Is Limited

The other concern with OOH is that the content must be brief and simple. There’s little dwell time around signage, so an ad has seconds to convey something. That can be challenging, even with easy value props like tasty food. With digital advertising, businesses can tell a longer, more relevant story, especially when using video ads via display, OTT/CTV or social media.

These narratives are critical to building a company’s reputation and earning consumer trust. Quick bites of content can prompt immediate responses from customers to convert. You could also recommend a mix of this, with a QR code on the OOH ad leading to a specific webpage that tells the story. Digital ads would also take users here.

Local Digital and Out-of-Home Advertising: Helping Advertisers Maximize Returns

With these strategies, you can sell against OOH or with it. If there’s plenty of budget, it’s about putting it in the right buckets for the best performance. Addressing the cons of OOH with advertisers and how digital can help will have them rethinking budget allocations.

Check out these other local advertising posts for more tips and trends.

OTT/CTV Local Advertising to Increase in 2023: How to Get Advertisers in Love with Video
2023 Digital Advertising Trends Local Media Sellers Need to Know