Billboard advertisements are some of the earliest forms of advertising. Their position amongst the elder statesmen of “traditional” media raises the question, are these traditions outdated? Have they been superseded by the Young Turks of today’s media savvy age?
Although any reader of this blog will know that we answer these questions to the negative, they are still important questions to ask. We have to think about the ways in which outdoor ads are relevant today and not rely on lazy assumptions about their efficacy.
Facts of the matter: 2009
Let’s start off with some hard facts. An Arbitron study found that 72% of drivers often look at the messages on roadside billboards, and that 58% either saw an event they were interested in, or visited a restaurant after seeing a billboard. More than half of people (56%) reported seeing a humorous ad to a friend or family member. It’s also worth observing that just over a quarter of people (26%) noted a web address or phone number from a roadside ad.
As well as this, a majority of billboard viewers (72%) shop on their way home from work or make a purchasing decision whilst in a car (68%). Here we can see a clear picture of high levels of awareness and influence generated by billboards.
Facts of the matter: 2017
That study was from 2009, nearly a decade ago, but we do live in a fast changing world. So let’s dive into a more recent study from 2017 carried out by Nielsen On Location.
Over half of respondents (51%) noticed a poster in the last month, and 38% noticed a poster in the last week. The figures look even better when you consider the impact on young adults aged 25-34; the majority of this segment (71%) noticed a poster in the last month. A healthy majority (65%) of past month viewership amongst the 18-44 age group further demonstrates advertising reach amongst a broad age range.
Furthermore, 50% of poster viewers paid attention to billboard ad messages all or most of the time, with the average ad recall being 47%. It’s worth noting the brands who took out more than 40 posters gained substantially higher recall levels. Brands with ten or fewer posters had an average recall rate of 18%, whilst those with less than 25 had a 34% recall rate. Less than 40 posters gained a 45% recall rate, which is still pretty respectable.
The Nielsen study shows that Outdoor also rivals other major advertising media; with over half of respondents saying that poster ads stand out more than newspapers, radio, and even online and mobile.
The fact that we live in a digitally saturated age where the majority of our information comes from computer screens and mobile devices surely add to the impact of outdoor advertising. To see content in the outside world, coming at us from posters and billboards, is to see it with fresh eyes.
Outdoor advertising continues to work because we are an increasingly mobile (in the literal sense) society; we lead busy lives and are constantly out and about in the outdoor environment… and that’s where your brand needs to be.