image of a man looking at statistics on an ipad

How to calculate impressions for OOH advertising

Signs of a successful OOH advertising campaign

Digital and online marketing is all around us these days. And there is a increasing need for statistics to show how many people a marketing campaign has reached. The question of how to calculate impressions for out-of-home (OOH) advertising is a complex one. It’s one the industry has historically struggled with, but in recent years has come up with innovative solutions. You’ll probably be surprised at just how precise and “granular” the data we can obtain is. It points to OOH advertising as an extremely powerful, not to mention measurable, tool to promote your brand.

So, how is outdoor advertising measured?

There are a range of methods by which impressions (or views) of outdoor and out-of-home advertisements are measured.

Travel surveys

Travel surveys are an industry standard for measuring OOH impressions. Ipsos Connect give study participants a digital device that tracks their movements. It’s very sophisticated and can track everything from which direction they are facing in as they travel, to when they stop and start. It can even determine their altitude and the temperature of their environment (useful for seasonal tracking and mapping travel data to weather patterns, for example).

This screenshot shows the extraordinary amount of data the sensor records about user movements;

image showing data tracked by Ipsos Connect from Waterloo Station, London

This detailed data can be overlaid with a map of out-of-home poster sites; it won’t just tell you if the participant was near a poster it will also tell you if they were facing it and for how long they dwelled there.

This image shows a taxi cab’s movements across London:

image showing a map tracking a taxi cabs movements across London

This is an excellent insight into audience travel patterns and tens of thousands of people have taken part in the surveys.

Other forms of OOH measurement

But this is not the only way to measure OOH impressions. Route creates 3D digital maps of outdoor space and the interiors of tube stations, shopping centers and more to measure the flow of traffic in the out-of-home environment. Other ways of measuring OOH impressions include using data from local government detailing traffic levels in any given area, and mapping it against the location of OOH poster sites.

Signs of a successful OOH campaign

The kind of measurements we have talked about above show how precise out-of-home ad measurement is. But how can brands keep a track of the effectiveness of their campaigns?

Measuring road traffic for your billboards

The Department for Transport keeps detailed maps of the amount of traffic on Britain’s A-road and motorway network. For example, you can search for any area in the UK and pull up a map of “count points”, small areas of the road network for which you can download traffic data.

image showing a map from the Department of Transport detailing traffic on Britain's A-road and motorway network

You can use this traffic count data to inform your decisions as to where you place your roadside billboards. You can easily pull up a map of OOH ad sites for free via Bubble Outdoor and cross reference it with road traffic data to get an accurate idea of the potential amount of vehicles that would have exposure to your ad.

Companies like the Local Data Company also provide services which give detailed breakdowns of pedestrian traffic “footfall” in your area, which again could be cross referenced with Bubble Outdoor’s ad map.

Measuring OOH ad engagement

Impressions are not the only metric you can use to track the success of your out-of-home campaigns. In many ways, raw impressions are a very blunt tool. So 10,000 people saw your posters, but what impact did it have on them? Did they take any action after seeing it? There are lots of ways you can track this.

Measuring brand actions

A 2013 study of Europeans found that 11% of people had scanned a QR code, 13% downloaded an app and 16% liked a brand on Facebook after seeing an outdoor ad.

Although that’s a relatively low percentage of the population, bear in mind that that translates into tens of millions of people carrying out these kind of brand engagements after exposure to outdoor ads.

The great thing about these kinds of activities is that you can easily measure them.

You can, for example, use Facebook data to calculate the rate at which people like your business page, and then see how much that rate is boosted for the duration you are running an OOH campaign.

What’s more, 77% of people took some form of action after seeing an out-of-home ad. Nearly a third (32%) of people looked up a brand online, 24% of people made an online purchase, and 7% bought an advertised product via their mobile device.


image showing Facebook data results calculating people's reaction to an OOH advertising campaign

We have even more tips on how to measure your OOH campaigns here and you can take a look at or guide to essential out-of-home marketing metrics here.

To find affordable OOH ads near you, check out the Bubble Outdoor ad map now.

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