Does out-of-home advertising build trust for brands?

image showing nighttime out-of-home billboards

There are lots of advertising techniques that can lead to sales activation, and lots of techniques that can get your brand in the consciousness of consumers. Although these techniques require time, effort and skill, they are among the most common tactics employed by brands. These things are all necessary aspects of effective marketing, but there’s something that’s much more sought-after, and much more scarce in the advertising world; and that’s the ability to build trust and confidence between brand and consumer found in out-of-home advertising.

It’s ironic that out-of-home (OOH) advertising is one of the more neglected forms of advertising amongst small and medium sized companies, because it’s one of the most effective ways to build trust in brands – a commodity that is especially important to growing businesses.

Research by Nielsen shows that Outdoor is one of the most trusted advertising mediums, with higher levels of trust than online. Over half of people (56%) trust the medium; but what’s even more crucial is that 58% of people are likely to take action after seeing an outdoor ad. High levels of trust combined with high levels of activation; that’s the kind of power that out-of-home advertising can bring to your brand.

Trust amongst millennials

image showing a laptop and woman's hand holding an iphone

Interestingly, millennials are more trusting of traditional media than digital formats. 56% of millennials trust out-of-home, above online display (48%) and online video (46%). This is perhaps partly because they are over-exposed to a deluge of adverts coming to them from laptop screens and mobile devices, and partly because the internet is seen as a space where any chancer can push their poorly targeted ads at you for very little cost.

Traditional media have a higher cost value associated with them; TV ads require strong production values to pull off, magazine ads cost lots of money, and outdoor has a strong wow-factor because it exists in a physical space, has logistical challenges associated with its delivery, and is seen as primarily the domain of large, national brands (which are likely to be more trusted).

Leveraging trust in out-of-home

Outdoor and out-of-home are best used as part of an integrated marketing strategy. Brands can use the trust that OOH brings to lend weight to other strands of their marketing strategy. If audiences are exposed to online messaging, via a social media campaign or display ad for example, and then are exposed to outdoor advertising, their trust in that brand is likely to increase. Online ads make audiences aware of a brand’s existence, and give them a passing familiarity with their product lines. An out-of-home campaign shows that this is a brand that means business and has the credibility to run outdoor campaigns. This helps us see how out-of-home can reinforce the impact of your brand’s profile.

Political campaigning

Another area where we can see the trust-building power of out-of-home is in political campaigning. Every election cycle, outdoor becomes a key battleground in the increasingly oppositional war of ideas between political parties. Alongside TV broadcasts, outdoor campaigns tend to grab headlines and can help marginal parties elbow their way into the mainstream debate. The out-of-home environment is a public space, and so brands that take advantage of it find themselves taking part in a national conversation which lends them an air of legitimacy.

Building trust through engagement

Out-of-home campaigns build trust for brands by building a relationship with consumers.

A majority of brand searches are carried out on mobile, and consumers are more likely to engage with brands after exposure to OOH ads. We can see a virtuous circle of trust-building start to emerge. A consumer sees a relevant OOH ad; its message resonates with them and they turn to their mobile device to search for the brand. They have gone from awareness to brand engagement within minutes, possibly seconds, of encountering an out-of-home ad.

Roadside billboards help build trust

image showing a driver's hand on the steering wheel of a car

A study in the US found that a majority of drivers (58%) who viewed roadside billboards saw an event they wanted to attend or a restaurant they subsequently visited, and 56% of them told friends and family about a humorous ad they had seen. We can see that, in addition to effectively delivering relevant content to audiences, billboards can engender conversations between those who view outdoor ads and their social networks. And what’s more, these types of relationships are fostered by all forms of OOH ads.

Building trust via word of mouth

The above example shows how OOH advertising can stimulate brand conversations, which can in turn build trust. Research by Nielsen shows that word of mouth exerts by far the most powerful form of influence, with 83% of people trusting recommendations from friends and family.

Outdoor can stimulate word of mouth because it has a bigger impact than most other forms of advertising. This is partly because brand messages can be painted on huge canvasses like 48-sheets and 96-sheets, or disruptive formats like bus advertising (not to mention high-tech stunts like AR experiences) and partly because it has a social aspect due to the public nature of OOH.

Long-term out-of-home campaigns build trust

It’s a simple fact of psychology that familiarity nurtures trust. If consumers walk by your OOH ad every time they go shopping they will develop confidence in your brand. They will see that you are here for the long haul, that you must have consumer confidence if you continue to take out OOH advertising. The brand-building effects of long-term OOH advertising are well documented, and this process is itself one of building trust and confidence.

image showing shopping mall

Out-of-home campaigns offer a way to integrate your brand messaging into the shopping habits of the nation. Consumers take guidance from the ads they see when out shopping on the high-street or in shopping malls. Think about a group of friends out shopping; they see an out-of-home ad that catches their eye and immediately spark up a conversation about the brand. These kinds of interactions are happening all the time. And they are lending brands trust and legitimacy and securing them a place in the daily lives of millions of shoppers.

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