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How Outdoor Advertising Works

Definition: Any advertising done outdoors that publicizes your business's products and services. Types of outdoor advertising include billboards, bus benches, interiors and exteriors of buses, taxis and business vehicles, and signage posted on the exterior of your own brick-and-mortar location.


Types of Outdoor Advertising


The most commonly known type of outdoor advertising is the billboard. Common forms of outdoor advertising today fall into three categories:


1) Billboard Advertising
Most people are familiar with billboard advertising, regardless of where they live or travel. Billboards are placed next to high-traffic highways as well as along less-traveled roads in non-urban areas. Drivers see them almost anywhere because they are an efficient and cost-effective means of communicating information that is geographically important – the location of the closest chain fast food restaurant on the route, the nearest motel, or campgrounds at the next exit.

2) Street Furniture
A bit of a misnomer, "Street Furniture" applies not just to bus or park benches but also to bus shelters, newsracks, and telephone kiosks, among others.

3) Transit
Ads on the sides of buses are the most common form of transit outdoor advertising, but outdoor advertising is common in subway stations and within subway cars, in taxis, along airport walkways, and wrapped around vehicles – one of the newer trends.


Outdoor advertising works well for promoting your product in specific geographic areas. While billboards, bus benches, and transit advertising can be very effective for the small-business owner, any successful outdoor campaign begins with your own location's signage.

Your outdoor sign is often the first thing a potential customer sees. Your sign should be sufficiently bright and conspicuous to attract attention (without being garish) and sufficiently informative to let prospective customers know what's sold there.

Ride around town and observe which signs catch your eye. Note which ones don't. Then think of the impression each sign gives you. Remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so give this important marketing tool your best efforts.

If you're involved in a business that has a fleet of vehicles conducting deliveries or providing a service, your company's name, logo, and phone number should be clearly visible on the vehicles. It's free advertising that allows you to increase your exposure in your market.

Billboards are most effective when located close to the business advertised. Because of their high cost, they're usually used to reach a very large audience, as in political campaigns. They're likely to be too expensive for most small firms, and some communities have strict ordinances governing the placement of billboards. In Vermont, for example, they're prohibited.

Bus-bench advertising is an excellent medium because it's highly visible, like a billboard. Essentially, bus-bench advertisers have a huge audience, held captive at red lights or in slow-moving traffic. An account executive of a Los Angeles-based bus bench manufacturing company said that an advertisement on one bus bench at a busy Los Angeles intersection would be seen by 35,000 to 50,000 people per day.

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