Outdoor advertising vs newspaper advertising

outdoor advertising vs newspapers

At Bubble we’re keen to emphasise that all brands need to find a marketing mix that works for them, and that integrated, multi-platform campaigns are at the cutting edge of contemporary marketing, particularly when they incorporate elements of out-of-home (OOH) or Outdoor.

But we’re also passionate exponents of the benefits of Outdoor advertising. Newspaper and Outdoor are two of the oldest forms of advertising and both have a noble history. Despite the decline of the newspaper industry as it fights a rear-guard battle with the internet, it’s influence has far from been reduced to zero.

Both newspaper and Outdoor advertising have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at how the two mediums stack up against each other.

Cost of outdoor advertising vs newspaper advertising

A first, full-page ad in The Telegraph costs £51,000. For that cost you could book 35 large billboards in London via Bubble.

The benefit of newspaper advertising is of course the fact that you can target a specific market segment and know that “the right people” are reading your creatives. And there’s no denying that that kind of targeted ad is necessary as part of your marketing mix.

But the benefits of Outdoor advertising are that you can reach broad swathes of the population, far beyond the readership of a particular newspaper. When thinking about your ad placements, consider how “niche” or how broad your campaign needs to be and make a decision based on that.



The Telegraph, to continue with this comparison, is delivered to over 484,000 readers per day and has over 5 million unique visitors to its website per day.

This is clearly a lot of people. However, if you look at the percentage of the population who read a newspaper, it’s around 5.5 million physical copies per day, or around 8% of the UK adult population. Granted, more people than that read papers online; The Daily Mail alone has around 29 million readers per month; The Guardian around 22 million.

By way of contrast, 98% of the population are exposed to Outdoor advertising. Newspapers just can’t compete in terms of per capita coverage.

outdoor advertising reaches more people compared to newspaper advertisingAnd Outdoor ads are reaching a very motivated audience. It’s true people do make purchasing decisions when reading a newspaper; most national’s have healthy traffic to their online stores.

But when out of their homes, audiences are:

  • Close to physical shops, to which they are often travelling to make purchases in the first place.
  • Powerfully influenced by Outdoor creatives to make impulse decisions.
  • In pursuit of leisure and lifestyle activities. Outdoor ads tap in to the aspirational aspects of people’s identities in a very visceral way.

There’s also an additional difference between newspaper and Outdoor advertising.

People are so used to print and online adverts that they have learned to “zone them out”. This is often because they go to a newspaper to discover new information, and often find adverts an invasive disturbance to their reading habits, a kind of necessary evil.

When outdoor, this experience is often reversed. People are often bored and in need of distractions. Adverts can provide a welcome dose of information and entertainment. The positive reception to these sorts of ads is especially great in commercial areas like shopping malls where shoppers consciously seek guidance from ads. Because they are in the mood for making purchases, they see adverts as a welcome source of influence, rather than the distraction that print and online ads can often represent.

Another big difference between newspaper and outdoor advertising is the propensity for repeat exposure offered by the latter.

People tend to have fixed routes they take to and from home; their daily commute, the places they regular hang out with friends, the route to visiting family members, and so on.

Outdoor adverts occupy fixed points in space. The impact of repeatedly passing the same physical landmark affixed with the same creative build a deeper level of brand awareness than the occasional newspaper full or half page spread, or one of those dreaded banner adverts people have learned to avoid reading.

There is something primitive and instinctual about our relationship to space. We remember things better when they are connected to a physical location. It’s true there is an abundance of information in the outdoor environment, most particularly in busy urban centres. But it’s nothing compared to the constant bombardment of online advertising, or the density of information vying for our attention in print newspapers.

outdoor advertising is easier to notice than newspaper advertising

Now, of course people can tune-out outdoor advertising too, but it is much better at cutting through a busy information environment than print and online newspaper advertising is.

One study, reported in Forbes, found that 71% of people often look at roadside billboards, both traditional and digital, and that well over of one third of people (37%) look at outdoor ads each time they pass by one.

By way of contrast, a 2014 study from Goo Technologies found that the vast majority of people (73%) ignore online banner ads (likely to be found on online newspaper sites), and that 35% ignore newspaper ads.

Whilst it is encouraging for print marketers that 75% of newspaper readers do indeed pay attention to newspaper ads, it is of course true that the size of the newspaper reading audience is far smaller than the amount of people who are exposed to billboards.

The billboard study mentioned above concerned America, but let’s assume that it’s a similar percentage in the UK. If 98% of the UK population are exposed to outdoor ads like billboards, it would follow from the study findings that around 70% of those people pay attention to those ads; that adds up to around 70% of the UK population paying attention to bilboard ads (if you’ve been following the back-of-an-envelope maths, you’ll have worked out that 70% of 98% = 68.6%!)

This speculative maths aside, we can point to a 2012 study that revealed that, indeed, more than half of Europeans (51%) say they are more likely to pay attention to outdoor advertising than other forms of advertising.

What’s more, two thirds of respondents revealed that they found Outdoor ads a “welcome distraction”, which backs up our earlier point. Even more interestingly, 70% of 18-34 year old mobile device users agreed that Outdoor ads are a welcome distraction.

So, what is the outcome of our assessment of the difference between Outdoor advertising vs newspaper advertising?

1. Reach

Newspaper advertising is a great way to target specific demographics. By contrast, Outdoor gives you exposure to the broadest demographics.

2. Reception

Outdoor advertising gets a positive reception from audiences, contrasted with newspaper advertising where there is a much higher degree of cynicism and “zoning out” going on.

3. Cost

There’s no way round it, newspaper advertising is expensive real estate. When you compare the reach of Outdoor advertising, and its lower cost relative to the size of ads available for purchase (plus their wide reach) there’s really no contest.

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