When Does Out-of-Home Advertising Work?

August 2, 2010

By Susan Burke

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is all about relevancy — catching the right consumer at the right moment — and is growing rapidly. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, advertisers spent $5.9 billion on OOH advertising in 2009. Consumers spend a lot of time away from their homes during the day and marketers are recognizing that there is now an opportunity to reach them in the elevator at work, at a football game, at the movies (for more on this aspect of OOH, please click here), while driving, or on the tray table of an airplane seat.

Over the course of the summer, I've seen a few pieces of OOH advertising that were particularly relevant to me, such as an ad for a car service on top of the luggage carousel at LaGuardia Airport or an ad on the New York subway advertising the company, Zipcar, which allows you to rent a car for just a few hours. And, of course, an ad for a Nathan's hot dog or a beer at Yankee Stadium always triggers a response when I'm half way through a good ball game. These ads were all relevant to me and my needs, so I found them to be helpful and welcome.

The flip side of OOH is that there are also many ads that are not relevant. For me, the countless ads on the subway for cheap international calling cards or the in-cinema spot on joining the Armed Forces don't meet my needs and often feel intrusive. When that happens repeatedly, OOH starts to become unwelcome to me.

So what's an advertiser to do? How do you measure the consumers you touch via OOH versus the ones you may annoy? What is the value of OOH and when do you choose to deploy it? We'd love to hear your thoughts!


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