Outdoor Advertising Myths: Debunked

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There’s no doubt that advertising represents huge business in the UK.

However, the way in which this money is spent is important, especially when you consider the innumerable myths that surround advertising practices.

In this post, we’ll debunk some of the most common myths pertaining to outdoor advertising, which remains a fast-growing channel nationwide!

Myth 1 – Nobody Pays Attention to Billboards

We’ll start with one of the biggest myths surrounding outdoor advertising, which is that consumers don’t really pay attention to billboard ads anymore.

This assertion is demonstrably wrong, with numerous studies and statistics actually highlighting the incredible reach of both traditional and digital billboards and their innate capacity for engaging customers.

For example, a recent TGI survey of 25,000 UK respondents found that more than one-in-three people who see out-of-home (OOH) advertising each week respond to this media in one way or another.

Whether this entails making a purchase directly online, visiting a local store or conversing with a friend about an advertised product, there’s no doubt that OOH media elicits a direct action from target consumers and plays a pivotal role in their overall customer journey.

In this respect, OOH advertising is also a great driver of assisted conversions, making it an increasingly important element of any successful marketing campaign.

The findings of these surveys are supported by other statistics too, including the fact that an estimated 98% of the UK population see at least one billboard or OOH advert each and every week.

Not only this, but a further 71% of Brits regularly interact with the outdoor adverts that they encounter on their daily travels, either engaging further with the brand in question or discussing the ad with a friend, colleague or relative.

So, it’s clear that outdoor advertising has the attention of customers in the UK, and this trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon!

Myth 2 – Outdoor Advertising Is Just For Big Businesses

This is a strange one, but there’s a common misconception that OOH advertising is only an option for big businesses or large corporations.

There’s no doubt that some small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) ignore the potential benefits of outdoor advertising, in the belief that this type of media is either too expensive or simply unsuitable for their circumstances.

Let’s start with the former; as OOH media is a diverse entity and one that includes many different channels and routes to market. This includes both digital and traditional billboards, for example, which vary considerably in price and the value that they provide in relation to your marketing spend.

While digital billboards can be quite pricey in high-traffic areas and often require you to share advertising space with as many as five other brands during each 60-second period, traditional alternatives are typically far cheaper over the course of a typical two-week booking.

More specifically, you can secure a 48-sheet billboard from 75 Media for as little as £320 over a two week booking, while a digital alternative would set you back a minimum of £500 during the same period of time.

Such savings can even be extended over the course of longer and more flexible bookings, while you can reduce the cumulative costs of a traditional billboard further simply by designing and producing your advert in-house.

What’s more, traditional (or paper) billboards only host one advert or sponsored message at a time, so you can optimise your exposure over the course of an individual booking and get the most bang for your buck.

OOH media is also incredibly valuable to SMEs and local businesses from a practical perspective, especially for those that own and operate corporeal stores.

The reason for this is simple; as these businesses typically draw in customers from a local catchment area, requiring a highly targeted approach that helps you to make the absolute most of your marketing spend.

OOH media and outdoor channels such as billboards are ideal in this respect, as ads can be placed in specific and strategic locations that optimise your reach in the local community and captures the largest possible audience over the course of the campaign.

Myth 3 – The More Billboards, The Better

This brings us neatly onto our third myth, as it’s quality that prevails over quantity in the world of OOH advertising and billboards.

This may sound counterintuitive in some respects, as it can be argued that increasing the number of billboards that feature your brand should automatically result in a higher number of impressions and subsequent conversions.

While it may be partially true that an increased number of ads correlates with more impressions, this is a very basic metric that simply estimates how many people have seen a particular advert.

This ultimately means little unless these views translate into further brand engagement and eventual conversions, which is why the placement of your individual ads is so much more important than the number of billboards that you manage to erect nationwide.

Ultimately, you must ensure that all billboards are strategically placed based on an underlying understanding of your core demographic and their behaviours.

For example, ads that target young professionals in built-up, metropolitan areas such as London may want to utilise public transport hubs, with a view to engaging a large number of commuters when they’re most likely to engage with sponsored messaging.

Conversely, brands that want to target motorists are best advised to leverage 48 or 96-sheet roadside billboards, with the focus on identifying the busiest routes within your consumer catchment area.

Regardless, the key takeaway here is that you think about your target audience in detail before advertising in specific locations where you’re most likely to reach them. This will minimise your costs while optimising your spend, and hopefully help you to avoid saturating your local area with unengaging, or unfocused ads.

Remember, producing a large number of ads can also cause customers to feel fatigued and disinterested in your brand, especially if you fail to diversify your designs or messaging over time.

It’s important to keep this in mind when formulating your marketing campaign, while it also serves as a reminder to introduce some variety to your designs in instances where you are required to buy multiple ad spaces in the same area.

Myth 4 – Only Classic Billboards Are On Offer

As we mentioned earlier, OOH media is deceptively diverse and features a number of different ad types and dimensions.

These include both digital and classic billboards, which offer alternative benefits to advertisers and can introduce different dimensions to specific campaigns.

Sure, paper or traditional billboards are cheaper and offer greater levels of exposure than digital options, but the latter typically requires shorter waiting times and is a little more flexible from the perspective of advertisers.

More specifically, you can have your ad programmed to appear during specific time slots, depending on the content of your message and your target audience.

So, let’s say that you own a local fast-food outlet and want to target commuters on their way home at work. In this instance, you could secure digital placements that display your messaging at designated bus stops and commuter routes during the evening rush hour, optimising your reach and the impact of your message in real-time.

The key thing to remember is that you can use traditional or digital billboards freely depending on your budget, audience and the nature of your campaign, while it may even prove beneficial to combine both types of media when marketing your brand.

Myth 5 – You Can Simply ‘Set it and Forget it’

We spoke earlier about how saturating your local area with ads can cause considerable fatigue amongst consumers, but there remains a large body of individuals who believe that they can adopt a simple ‘set it and forget it’ approach for their outdoor advertising campaign.

More specifically, people often believe that they can retain the same messaging and placements indefinitely, rather than regularly reviewing their creative efforts and analysing the frequent movements of their customers.

Make no mistake; people will begin to ignore your adverts if they remain fixed and unchanged for an extended period of time, while in some cases they may simply stop noticing them as they continue to meld into the natural environment.

So, you’ll need to adopt a proactive and data-led approach when planning and managing your billboard placements, in order to ensure that you continue to resonate with customers and target them effectively as they go about their daily business.

This will undoubtedly involve updating your adverts on a regular basis, while potentially moving or expanding into new ad spaces as your customer base evolves.

Myth 6 – OOH Media Will Bring Instant Sales

This myth represents something of a grey area, as while it isn’t necessarily true that OOH media will deliver instant sales, it may not be completely false either.

Confused? Don’t worry, as this simply means that the ability of OOH media to drive immediate sales (or achieve any other objective) depends on an array of factors and variables that exist within your campaign.

The nature of your messaging is key, for example, as this seeks to engage consumers and elicit a specific action. Similarly, the precise product or service that you’re marketing is incredibly influential, as you may need to use the medium to build trust and encourage further brand interaction with a view to driving long-term sales conversions.

For example, let’s say that you own a physical store in your local area and want to advertise a limited-time discount sale.

In this instance, you’ll market the promotion concisely and using an urgent, active tone, while the use of a clearly-defined time limit will most likely drive customers into your store and trigger a large spike in sales straight away.

Conversely, you may be looking to utilise the reach and engaging nature of billboards to build brand awareness, with OOH capable of establishing your brand, boosting interactions and reducing your marketing costs significantly.

In this case, however, your billboard ads will serve as several informative touchpoints that comprise a larger, longer-term campaign, with the primary objective of creating valuable assisted conversions and driving sales over an extended period of time.

The messaging here is likely to be far more subtle, as it will be focused on educating target consumers, building trust and encouraging individuals to interact further with the brand.

Myth 7 – The Information On Your Ad, The Better

While not all billboards or outdoor ads have been created equal, there are some universal rules to keep in mind when designing your individual ads.

The first (and arguably most important) is the need to be concise and focused when creating your content, as you look to feature a single, targeted message and the most relevant contact details depending on how you want customers to subsequently interact with the brand.

The reason for this is simple; as you want to avoid cluttering your individual adverts with information and making it difficult for customers to extract the most important elements of data.

Remember, people will only get to interact with your ads as they pass by and while they’re on the move, so you only have a limited period of time (often between three and six seconds) in which to engage their interest and penetrate their conscience.

This is particularly important when leveraging larger-form roadside billboards, as this will arguably create an even more limited window of opportunity in which to capture the imagination of passing motorists.

From a technical perspective, this means condensing your messaging to fewer than 250 characters, as various studies have shown that this practice can boost engagement levels by as much as 60%.

In terms of legibility, it’s generally recommended that the fonts used for static OOH media should be readable from distances that are greater than 1,000 feet.

On a similar note, we’d also suggest that you utilise viable and easy-to-read fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial or Georgia. The Baskerville font is another that offers value to advertisers, with this considered to be the most ‘trustworthy’ typography and one that could help to positively influence the minds of consumers.

The Last Word

So there you have it; seven of the most common outdoor advertising myths completely exposed and debunked in barely 2,000 words!

We’d definitely recommend that you keep these points in mind when leveraging OOH media and channels such as billboards, so that you can build purposeful and effective campaigns that help you to make the most of your marketing spend.

This can definitely help your business in the long-term, whether it’s a large corporation or a local startup that’s looking to hit the ground running!

Book your billboard today.
Book your billboard today.

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