How to Advertise Outdoors

learning how to advertise outdoorsOnce you know how to advertise outdoors you enter a world of brand boosting opportunities and game changing possibilities. But it can also be a very disorienting world, especially for SME’s and start-ups with limited financial and strategic resources.

At Bubble we want to be your guide through this world. Please consider this post a solid starting point, outlining the fundamental steps to go through to begin advertising outdoors and unlocking your brand’s potential for growth.

How to advertise outdoors

Your starting point should be that old adage, K.I.S.S- keep it simple, stupid. Have a very clear goal of the aims and objectives of your campaign; chunk them down so that they are measurable. If you can’t cross them off a list when they’ve been achieved, then they’re too vague.


At first you should be starting with a single campaign in mind. You can always build out from there. It might be helpful to turn your campaign goals into S.M.A.R.T targets:

Specific: is your goal specific? (i.e, drive uptake of a special offer, send customers to a new restaurant, get 500 people to an event…)

Measurable: how will you know when your goal has been achieved? Set clear targets.

Achievable: can you pull off this campaign at your company’s current level of resources? Be honest, and remember there’s a lot you can do with a relatively trim budget.

Realistic: what resources do you have in place to roll out the campaign? Budget, personnel, marketing team, creatives etc… Can you actually pull this off? Often a big idea can be streamlined to make it more realistic.

Time limited: set a clear end date by which you can assess the effectiveness of your campaign. Maybe this is the length of the campaign; is it a two-week publicity quick blitz, or a longer, brand-building campaign?

Get creative

creative ideas of how to advertise outdoors

Once you’ve settled on your campaign goals, it’s time to get creative. There’s a long argument over whether the creative concept or the medium is the most important. Of course, this is a false dichotomy. Both are equally important, and need to be optimised to achieve your campaign objectives.

But for now, focus on getting the creative as good as possible; we’ll get on to the medium shortly.

Here are some essential considerations:

Be concise. There are lots of ways to engage with your audience with billboards and six sheets -which we’ll take a look at later- but your campaign should acknowledge that in most cases your audience are busy, and often in motion; your message and artwork should be easily digestible, with a clear message, featuring no more than 7 words, and only essential contact information (if this is even necessary in our easily-googlable times).

Your artwork should take in to account your campaign goals. With restaurant chains like McDonald’s (who already have major brand awareness) a lot of their adverts focus on pointing customers towards their outlets, flagging up opening times, or just making sure their simple but catchy designs stay at the forefront of your consciousness.

Visualise how your ad will look in the actual outdoor environment. You can download stock images of outdoor displays for your designer to map artwork onto, to give you an idea of how your ad will look in-situ.

Bubble also offer a premium artwork design service which you can take advantage of, if you’d rather free up resources to focus on developing an effective marketing strategy.

Pick a medium

billboard and poster sizes for advertising outdoors

There will need to be some interplay between the medium you choose and your campaign’s creative vision. The art should take into account whether this is a striking image and slogan to be blasted out via huge road side 48 sheets, or if this is a dynamic campaign built for audience interaction via GR codes, NFC and so on.

Each will have different implications for artwork design, poster size and so on. As you design your campaign, keep referring back to how your ad will be presented in the out-of-home environment. You’re still in the planning stage, so there’s plenty of opportunities for tweaking your campaign before you roll it out.

Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail. You want to give yourself plenty of time to plan out your campaign from start to finish. This is not something you want to improvise on the fly. Once your ads are out there, they will stay there, in the public eye, for the length of the placement, so there’s no going back.

Consult a map

person looking at map to choose outdoor advertising locations

With a killer ad design in hand, it’s time to think seriously about the geography of your outdoor placement. There’s an art to choosing the right place to display your ad.

Where are your target audience most likely to be found? On the high street, looking for a restaurant on a whim? Are they bus/train/tube commuters who would benefit from your app? Or maybe young urban youth hanging out in the local shopping mall? Think about where your audience are likely to be found and pull up a map of available ad space in the area. Bubble have a very handy integrated map available for just this thing.

Perhaps you are promoting a restaurant or retail outlet; you’ll want to purchase ad space in the vicinity, to push your audience towards your venue.

Consulting a map is very important, but it’s no replacement for getting out of the office to recce your advert locations by foot. Walk around the area near your outlet; keep an eye out for places with heavy footfall, perhaps near local transport hubs, on a busy high street etc.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Picture in your mind’s eye how your ads will appear- what would your experience be encountering your own ad in the street? Take your in-situ design mock-ups with you to help visualise the end result. Don’t be afraid to go back and make changes to your original design based on the data gathered from your recce. And remember, trusting your instincts can give you the edge over your paint-by-numbers rivals.

Consult a calendar

using diary to choose best time to advertise outdoors

As with so much in life, timing is everything. Is this a quick two-week campaign built around an event or time-limited special offer? Or is this campaign part of a long-haul brand building strategy that will run for six months or more? Each option will have significant implications for your budget, so make sure you have a clear vision. And remember, if in doubt, consult the experts. There’s plenty of resources out there to guide you along the way.

Don’t just plan around your brand’s personal timeframes, make sure you keep abreast of the timings and rhythms of outdoor advertising. Bubble’s integrated booking platform has been designed to make things as streamlined as possible, and is based on our in-depth knowledge of an often inscrutable industry. As a rule, the market works around 2-3 months in advance. But given that it’s good not just to rush in to these things, that can certainly be to your advantage.

Once you have settled on the size and shape of ad space that you need, have the artwork from your designer, and know how long your campaign will run, and how many panels you wish to purchase; you can make use of our instant booking platform to find available space and make payment online. It’s as simple as uploading your artwork and making a payment. And remember, we can also design your artwork for you.

If in doubt, ask the experts

This post can only briefly touch on the complexities of how to advertise outdoors. There are plenty of articles on our blog that drill down in to the fine details on all elements of Outdoor advertising, and we are always on hand to answer your queries. Check out some of this outdoor advertising advice from the experts. Or get in touch with us today so we can be your guide through the unpredictable, fast moving, and always fascinating world of Outdoor advertising.

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