Outdoor Marketing Builds Credibility for Online Start-ups

man at desk with sun shining through window

The digital economy has seen the emergence of numerous online start-ups. And competition for investment and finance is fierce. New companies are campaigning hard to secure the funding and custom that will propel their businesses forward. Although the world of outdoor marketing can seem daunting and decidedly analogue, once embraced, it can be a real game-changer.

Out of the thousands of start-up businesses registered in the UK over the last year, only the ones who are intent on striving for excellent marketing strategies will be able to look forward to future growth.

Online start-ups looking to reinforce their brand and build loyalty should employ a well considered outdoor marketing strategy.

An outdoor marketing strategy focusing on consumers in transit, in public places and in commercial locations, and one which targets specific localities and potentially replaces competitors, will support any business campaign and help to secure finance.

How does an outdoor marketing strategy build credibility for online start-ups?

Outdoor marketing for start-ups creates low-risk, sustained exposure

An outdoor campaign guarantees prolonged exposure to your product or brand. TV and internet can be turned off or ignored. A poster cannot. Outdoor advertising forms a large part of a person’s everyday landscape- bus shelters, billboards, buses, taxis to name but a few. For the most part, people want to encounter a product visually and in the ‘real world’ for legitimacy and credibility.

Compared to an online pay-per-click campaign, an outdoor marketing campaign will provide a low risk, guaranteed sustained presence. You could burn through your online marketing budget within days or even hours. On the other hand, an upfront, paid-for series of billboards or posters, for example, will guarantee constant exposure and a better return on investment (ROI) in the long run.

Shai Goldman, managing director of SVB and Tumblr documenter of startup ads on outdoor media claims that “People just want to try new channels”. He believes that start-ups are turning to outdoor advertising because social advertising is becoming increasingly expensive yet less effective.

People are more wary of clickbait these days. In a world of constantly changing consumer trends, flippancy and boredom, multiple outdoor advertising channels can make for better coverage.

Outdoor marketing creates a sustained opportunity to engage with a brand

Most start-ups are excellent at communicating information about their specific product or their specific brand – but an online presence can sometimes present a very narrow story of what is being sold or promoted.

By employing an outdoor marketing strategy, start-ups can demonstrate knowledge about their specific sector and its future trends, building confidence with consumers and investors alike.

Some suggest that outdoor marketing is a little like storytelling and problem solving. The product must be placed within the story of its relevant sector. It needs to ask questions about how to problem-solve for the specific target customers.

Outdoor marketing shows a well-considered evaluation of the sphere that it is in. It provides a continued visual and tangible interaction with a product, and an understanding of this product within its context.

Indeed, Daniel Murray, co-founder of Grabble, says that marketing ‘is probably the most important thing (investors) look at because they need to know you can grow.’

Perceived durability of brand

Having a presence in the real world can add legitimacy to companies would otherwise only be encountered online.

Just having an outdoor presence increases the perception of the brand’s durability. It can give the appearance of a more trustworthy, established brand.

Outdoor marketing campaign also creates the impression that the start-up is a thought leader within their field – compiling statistics and infographics to understand the specific industry.

Matt Sraz, founder and CEO of HR software company Namely, which also runs outdoor ads in New York, is a fan of outdoor marketing. It’s ability to target specific neighbourhoods and the opportunity to occupy locations that are traditionally dominated by legacy competitors make outdoor advertising increasingly effective. “And perhaps the best reason: It works,” he said, “we can track website traffic increases to our OOH advertising in specific geographies.”

Outdoor advertising creates an emotional and sometimes delayed response that works in your favour

You don’t have 100% control with online marketing. You can’t always control the context in which the advertising appears. You can’t control when it appears or what other brands appear alongside it. And almost always online marketing requires an immediate call-to-action.

On the other hand, a physical, outdoor marketing campaign, if run effectively, should evoke a longer-term and deeper-seated emotional response. Jonathan Sills at the Crunch Network calls it the ‘state of mind’ element. He expands: ‘outdoor ads…should strive to enhance a potential customer’s actions or well-being. They should complement rather than interrupt what someone is doing.’

If an advert complements your day visually, it is generally considered to be trustworthy.

Online advertising often focuses on showing what you are immediately interested in or what you have been most recently interested in. It uses cookies to bombard your social media accounts and other feeds with adverts relevant to your recent browser history, demanding an immediate response which may not be appropriate.

By contrast, sustained exposure to a physical outdoor marketing campaign can make a brand or product linger with that person long enough for them to remember it when they need it. It also encourages prolonged and regular discussion amongst friends or family perhaps travelling in the same car or waiting at a bus shelter; people that might use the same journey countless times over.


We are witnessing an increase in global spending on outdoor marketing and advertising. The global outdoor advertising market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.44%  during 2014-2019.

Perhaps surprisingly, the mass-market medium of outdoor advertising is seeing a resurgence, and online start-ups would be served well to employ a carefully considered approach to outdoor marketing in order to support a campaign raising awareness of their brand or product.

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