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Start-Ups

Pros and Cons of Out of Home Advertising for Small Business

By Barbara Beauregard   |    September 16, 2016   |    12:02 PM


One of the fastest growing media segments, out of home advertising (OOH) focuses on connecting with people while they are "on the go" in public places. This includes people who are in transit, gathered in public places or waiting for buses, planes and appointments. While they do pay big dividends in certain situations, OOH campaigns are not always appropriate for every business.

What Are the Advantages?

While traditional roadside billboards remain the dominant form of outdoor advertising, OOH campaigns can also include so-called street furniture, such as mall kiosks, news racks, bus shelters and anywhere else people congregate. Whatever their individual characteristics, most OOH advertising offers the following benefits:

  • Larger Reach: OOH can have a much larger reach than other advertising media, especially when placed in busy areas, such as highways or bus stations.

  • Higher Returns: According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, OOH campaigns cost about $3.38 to $8.65 CPM (cost per thousand), compared to online advertising’s $17.50 CPM.

  • Market diversity: OOH ads introduce your product or service to a large and diverse market, comprised of middle- and upper-classes consumers.

  • Brand recognition: Since most people frequent the same outdoor areas, they are likely to see your brand over and over again.

  • Immediacy: OOH ads can be great for startups, which often have difficulty penetrating existing markets.

What Are the Downsides?

  • Limited focus: With limited control of who sees your ads, you may have a harder time connecting with niche audiences.

  • Difficult to Evaluate: Unless you are only marketing your business through OOH advertising, you will have trouble quantifying its precise impact on sales.

  • Startup costs: You may need to sign a long-term contract for a specific location. You may also endure costs related to design and production.

  • Consumer apathy: Ad blindness can render your campaign ineffective over time.

  • Consumer contempt: If passersby regard your ad as visual pollution in their community, they may transfer these feelings to your product or service.

Is it Right for My Business?

Since every company is unique, there's no one right way to market a product or service. Many small businesses credit OOH advertising for taking their companies to the next level. On the other hand, some entrepreneurs regard OOH campaigns as costly and ineffective for their niche products and services.

More often than not, successful businesses enjoy optimal results when they employ a diverse marketing campaign that includes online advertising, email marketing, print ads and various other media. If you do decide to opt for an OOH advertising campaign, consider viewing it as only one part of your overall marketing strategy.