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What is Outdoor Advertising?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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Outdoor advertising includes various types of promotional displays, from highway billboards to transit posters and arena placement, all geared towards communicating a message to the public. The message might be to buy a product, take a trip, vote for a politician, or give to a charity. It might even be a public service announcement. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Inc. (OAAA), businesses spent $5.8 billion dollars on outdoor displays in 2004, a figure expected to rise again in 2005.

In part, the OAAA attributes continuing success of outdoor advertising to the fact that, while diversified forms of media have splintered audiences of traditional venues like newsprint and radio, automobile traffic continues to grow. Tens of millions of Americans commute each day, by some estimates covering over three trillion miles annually. Strategically placed advertising guarantees substantial exposure for very little investment, comparatively speaking. This makes it very cost-effective.

There are many kinds of outdoor advertising choices. Eateries and hotels commonly make use of highway billboards to steer customers in for a rest or a bite. The automobile and tourism industries account for a very large percentage of billboard revenue. Bus benches often feature ads for local businesses, while bus shelters might display a major movie promotion. Beverage companies commonly make use of sporting events and arenas, among other venues, while taxicabs, buses, railways, subways and wall murals offer other forms of promotion.

The OAAA divides outdoor venues into four major categories: Billboard revenue accounted for over half of the advertising pie in 2004, transit system or mobile advertising and advertising on public furniture made up approximately another 30%, and alternative advertising brought in the last percentage points of the 5.8 billion spent to catch the eye of the outgoing public.

Though it may seem like outdoor advertising is for big players, small local businesses account for most advertisers. Rates vary according to the type of advertisement, size, location and duration.

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Discussion Comments
By janejames67 — On Feb 26, 2014

Outdoor advertisement provides a 24-hour exposure to the public eye. It is an effective way to increase the reach of the product.

It is also the most cost efficient way to reach the public. Last month, I did a promotional outdoor campaign for my shop and it was a turning point for my business. It helped me to realize how effectively outdoor advertising reaches people.

By anon142024 — On Jan 12, 2011

Outdoor advertising is very cost effective considering the fact that with little investment, one can get so much yield. The major challenge here is the ability of the practitioner to locate a strategic site that guarantees substantial exposure of whatever is placed on the board per time. If this is achieved, the sky remains the stepping stone.

By Lenny Rozental — On Nov 03, 2010

A great form of outdoor advertising is Bus Ads.

By oasis11 — On Aug 09, 2010

Crispety- It seems like great outdoor media advertising idea but, I think I would be a little bit embarrassed to drive around in a car with advertisements all over.

I like the idea of driving around in a free car but I don't think I could do it.

By Crispety — On Aug 09, 2010

Latte31- Great outdoor advertising ideas include mobile advertising. By placing the advertisements on a car or bus, people will be forced to read the advertisements as they go by.

This makes this type of medium very effective. This form of alternative outdoor advertising are called bus wraps and car wraps.

For car wraps the vehicle is covered with advertising all around it. Companies can actually not only design the advertising and display it on a car, but they can also even hire someone to drive the car for you.

These people get to enjoy a free car for the time listed on the contract. Usually a company will cover the lease of a car and might provide additional compensation for driving around with the car wrap advertisements.

The car wrap advertisements can be placed on a person's car, or the company can hire someone to drive a brand-new car that's already been wrapped.

The wrap is not permanent and can easily removed once the campaign is over.

By latte31 — On Aug 09, 2010

Outdoor advertising media can be found in the form of outdoor advertising billboard signs, mobile signs found on buses and cars as well as bench advertising.

Sometimes a store can have a outdoor advertising banner to focus on a specific product or service. For example, a local credit union might be advertising and high-yield checking account.

Power Financial Credit Union uses a red banner that covers the entire front window to advertise its new CD and checking account products.

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