image of a large outdoor billboard above a row of shops

Different types of out-of-home advertising: the pros and cons

If you’re looking for the right of out-of-home advertising (OOH) for your needs, this guide should familiarise you with the advantages and disadvantages of the various formats available.

Bus stop ads

Pros:

Bus stops cover the length and breadth of Britain. Billions of individual bus journeys take place each year. Quite simply, bus stop ads can reach a massive section of the UK population.

They offer significant “dwell time”, a measure of how long people spend in front of posters. This increases the chances people will engage with your ads. They may even check out your brand on their smartphones whilst they wait for the bus!

Bus stop ads can help you deliver your brand messages to busy retail destinations, rural locations, town centers, and residential areas. This makes a great basis for local, regional and national campaigns.

image showing a out-of-home advertising at a bus stop shelter

Cons:

Affluent consumers are on the whole less likely to travel by bus. If you want to target a luxury goods audience, for example, you might want to use other forms of OOH ads.

You’re pretty much limited to 6-sheet size posters (1.2m x 1.8m) so they don’t offer the high impact that larger billboards like 48-sheets (6m x 3m) and 96-sheets (12m x 3m) can offer.

Billboard ads

Pros:

Billboards offer a large canvas on which to display your ads. This creates high impact campaigns that can reach huge audiences and are visible from large distances.

image showing out-of-home advertising on a billboard

There’s a level of prestige that comes from advertising on billboards; they tell audiences that your brand means business and knows how to make an impact. This also leads to greater levels of trust for your brand.

Billboards are also one of the best ways to reach drivers. One study showed how 71% of drivers noticed a billboard in the previous week, and 58% of them saw an ad they related to in some way.

Cons:

Billboards are more expensive per panel than a lot of other forms of OOH advertising, like shopping centre 6-sheets or post office screens. So if you want to run a campaign across lots of ad sites there are more affordable ways to do this.

Whilst the wide reach of billboards is very useful, if you want to run a more targeted campaign there are more specialised forms of OOH ads you could use. For example, if you want to reach the over 50s, you might be better advertising on a post office digital display. If you want to reach movie lovers, cinema poster ads can reach a captive audience.

Shopping centre out-of-home advertising

Pros:

Studies have shown that the ads shoppers see half an hour before making a purchase have a strong influence on their buying behaviors. Customers at Intu shopping centers have an average dwell time of 100 minutes. That means the ads they see around them whilst shopping have a big impact.

Placing ads in shopping malls guarantees you will reach audiences in a shopping mindset, which is not necessarily true of, say, roadside billboards or bus stop ads. This increases the chance that your ads will influence the impulse buys that shoppers frequently make. One study showed that up to 70% of purchases are unplanned, putting shopping centre ads in a position of high influence.

Cons:

Shopping centre ads are great if you want to sell retail products to consumers, especially if you have a store in the mall or products the shops. But lots of brands have other business models. What if you want to target small business owners? Petrol station forecourt screens, post office displays, or ads near your local tech hub might be a better way to go.

Mall visitors tend to only have shopping on their mind, they often shop in family or friendship groups. They’re usually looking for entertainment or good old retail therapy. But what if you want to promote your dating app? It might be better to target solitary commuters with a bus stop or subway station ad.

image showing out-of-home advertising from eharmony in an underground station

Digital post office and sports club screens

Pros:

People often think of OOH advertising as targeting a wide, general audience on the roads and high streets of Britain. But by advertising on digital panels you can also reach specific audiences indoors. This can help you really focus on getting your message across to targeted audiences.

Post offices are great for targeting rural audiences, older people and small business owners, and they offer people distractions as they wait in queues.

Golf and cricket club screens are excellent at reaching an audience typically comprised of older men, often with lots of disposable income. As older people feel most ads don’t speak to them this is an excellent way for your brand to reach out to a mature audience with significant spending power.

Cons:

These kinds of ads are typically going to reach older audiences. If you want to reach trendy urban types, you might want to consider billboards, street posters, or shopping centre ads.

Digital screens show your ads in rotation alongside other ads. There’s often value to be had in a static print poster that stays up for two weeks and is seen by everyone who passes by it.

These digital displays are great for viewing at close range but don’t project well over distances. Sometimes you just want to send a big, loud, public message and other forms of advertising on this list like billboards are much better at doing this.

We hope this list has helped you discover the out-of-home advertising ad formats that work best for your needs. Take a look at our ad panel locator map to easily find and buy outdoor ads online today.

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