The 9 Biggest Myths and Misconceptions About Out-of-Home Advertising

Many people think they know what out-of-home advertising is, but a lot of their perceptions are still very much stuck in the past… The world of out-of-home advertising has changed a lot in recent years. Here are some of the biggest OOH myths and misconceptions that still persist today.

The 9 Biggest Myths and Misconceptions About Out-of-Home Advertising

Out-of-home advertising has changed a lot. Here’s what you may have missed if you haven’t been keeping up...

Many people think they know what out-of-home advertising is but often fail to realize that a lot of their perceptions of this time-honored advertising medium are still very much stuck in the past. So, to ensure you have a solid understanding of what the world of out-of-home looks like today and the value it can offer to brands of all shapes and sizes, we thought we’d take some time to debunk the many myths and misconceptions about out-of-home advertising that we still, unfortunately, hear all too often. And if we’ve succeeded at the task at hand, you’ll come away with an entirely new appreciation of this medium, including its ability to amplify your other traditional and digital marketing efforts in a big way.

Life is too short to be stuck in OOH advertising’s past

As the old adage goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Unfortunately, this still seems to hold true for the world of advertising. Some people, in spite of the advertising industry having undergone a massive digital transformation in recent years, simply can’t see certain media in a new light. Out-of-home, like its other traditional advertising brethren, has often been a victim of this stuck-in-a-rut kind of thinking. Undeservedly so.

Now, as you already know, the team at AdQuick lives and breathes out-of-home advertising every single day. We understand where the industry came from and where it’s going in the future (hint: we’re building that!). And as much as we’d like to say that having to debunk the myths and misconceptions about out-of-home advertising is finally a thing of the past, we would be lying. Every day, whether we like it or not, is a proverbial game of ‘whack-a-mole.’ We constantly find ourselves having to educate our customers and partners on how the out-of-home industry—including the broader infrastructure surrounding it—has changed.

And while we, too, love to be the purveyors of a good “ah-hah” moment every now and then, we really hate sounding like a broken record. So to clear up any confusion once and for all, here’s our response to many of the erroneous things we hear on a (surprisingly) regular basis.

1. OOH advertising is only good for brand marketing

Let’s start with the biggest and most pervasive misconception of them all. True, in the past, out-of-home advertising was used in large part for brand marketing efforts. And if you only think about the medium in terms of big, splashy billboards in Times Square or along Sunset Boulevard, we can certainly understand why you’d have this perception.

But many people forget that, way back in the day, out-of-home advertising was a powerful local advertising tactic, used specifically to elicit desire and drive an immediate and direct response by consumers. Imagine a barbershop in a dusty, “Wild West” town, with an ad displayed on an outside wall promoting a service for the closest and smoothest shave ever. While this is a basic take on out-of-home advertising, it nevertheless helps to explain that the medium wasn’t always designed for branding alone. It was designed to elicit some kind of action.

The same is fundamentally true today. From brand awareness to direct response—and everything in between—out-of-home advertising can be a powerful addition to any marketing mix. Even more, it has the power to drive offline-to-online conversions, essentially giving your digital marketing tactics “surround sound” amplification in the real world. So, without getting into the weeds here, it should be clear that out-of-home plays a role bigger than ‘brand’ alone.

2. OOH advertising only refers to roadside billboards

It’s worth echoing one point above: Out-of-home advertising is much bigger than billboards alone. From massive wall murals to bus wraps to branded pizza boxes to “street furniture” (i.e. park benches and urban panels), out-of-home advertising includes virtually any real-world surface that a brand can plaster its message on. So why limit yourself to billboards alone when you can have a lot more fun – and boost your chances of reaching your target customers at different points throughout their day – by taking advantage of the full breadth and depth of the out-of-home advertising ecosystem?

3. OOH advertising is really expensive

What many people don’t realize is that OOH offers the lowest CPMs of all traditional media. The average hovers around $5, which is a bargain compared to the kind of CPMs we’re seeing today, especially across various digital and social formats. But this incorrect perception about out-of-home advertising being prohibitively expensive stems from, you guessed it, the notion that the only OOH ads worth buying—or worth their weight in gold—are those big, splashy billboards. Of course, if it has been your life's dream to have a billboard in Times Square, then you may need to be prepared to shell out a good chunk of cash. But if you’re looking to drive results beyond brand awareness alone, there are a lot of ways to do it cost-effectively in the out-of-home advertising space, regardless of the size of your business or your budget.

4. OOH ad buying is based purely on relationships

Building strong relationships is important in any industry. The media industry is not a unique exception to this rule in any way. However, we’ve heard people say over and over again that the only way to lock in the best rates in the world of out-of-home advertising is to build personal relationships with every single media owner you work with. That may have been how it worked in the past, especially at a time when buying media, in general, was even more decentralized than it is now, but today, that’s simply inefficient—for both the media owner and media buyer.

And now that data is now playing a more prominent role in the OOH ad space, regardless of the ad format, relationship-building is no longer the sole key to success, nor is evaluating ad buys based on amount alone. With tools like those provided by AdQuick, you now have a single place to access historical media pricing and campaign performance data to plan media buys that will drive the greatest possible outcomes. And then once you decide on what ads will give you the biggest bang for your buck, you can easily reach out to the media owners—again, directly via AdQuick—to make the buy and then immediately start planning your campaign.

5. OOH advertising requires local expertise

Before platforms like AdQuick existed, it was common to put a regional media buyer on the ground to scope out OOH ad placements and also meet and build relationships with local media owners. This was essential for planning and executing local out-of-home advertising campaigns.

But now that more than 98% of OOH ad inventory is searchable, targetable, and measurable through AdQuick—not to mention, we make it easy to contact almost every media owner imaginable—this notion of “local expertise” is no longer needed. In fact, the wealth of data and insights built into our platform (see more on that below) can transform practically any media buyer into a local expert within a matter of seconds. Not only is this a more efficient way to plan and execute OOH media buys, but it’s also more likely to drive greater performance than simply going about it the “old-fashioned” way—relationship-building and all!

6. OOH advertising is a long and laborious process

This depends on the kind of ad you’re running. If you’re creating a massive billboard, for example, you’ll have to back out your timeline to include creative development and approval, production and proofing, and finally installation. While buying media like this is relatively turn-key, there is an element of preparation and planning that needs to be taken into account to execute these kinds of media buys flawlessly and avoid wasting valuable marketing budgets.

However, with the rise of programmatic digital OOH, it’s now possible for brands to buy and launch campaigns within 24 hours—and even modify, pause, or resume them in real-time. Even better, by tapping into the power of AdQuick’s platform, we’ve made it possible to speed up OOH ad buying and execution, whether digital or otherwise, by a factor of 10.  

That being said, while we’d love to say sayonara to long lead times and cumbersome production processes altogether, the reality is that when you’re dealing with the installation of large-format assets, that will eventually live somewhere in the real world, you need to plan accordingly.

7. OOH advertising operates within a highly consolidated marketplace

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course, there are some very big media owners out there, but even the largest only owns about 15% of all available out-of-home inventory. The other 85% is spread across thousands of different media owners across the U.S. and around the world. So, if you’re interested in running an out-of-home advertising campaign, you’re not stuck only working with the big guys—and the heftier price tag that sometimes comes along with that. In fact, once you branch out to smaller markets, the big guys play even less of a role.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “But doesn’t that make my life a lot harder if I have to negotiate ad buys with a lot of different media owners?” Under normal circumstances (in the past), the answer to that would be “yes.” However, the brilliant team at AdQuick has created a quick and easy way to reach and contact over 98% of media owners in the U.S. The good news for you: We give you a one-stop-shop for doing all of your out-of-home media buys, saving you a ton of time and helping you avoid an unnecessary media buying-induced headache.

8. OOH advertising is not data-driven

This is probably a good time to remind you that AdQuick was created to bring a new level of sophistication to the out-of-home advertising industry via technology, data, and insights. So telling us that the space we work in is not data-driven is a great way to make us laugh. Because let’s be honest, modern OOH ad buying platforms, like ours, have brought a wealth of data and insights into the mix, to help inform smarter and more effective ad buying decisions.

One of the most powerful aspects of this new, tech-infused (out-of-home) world order is the ability to target audiences with precision like never before. AdQuick alone gives brands access to over 1,000 behavior, demographic, and purchase-based audience targets in order to pinpoint the exact OOH ad units that will reach their desired audiences. We also allow brands to layer in their existing audience data to build highly accurate lookalike audiences as well.

And because OOH ads live in the real world, we also pull from third-party anonymized foot traffic and mobility data to understand consumer movement patterns with granularity. For instance, we can identify what trade areas—including the businesses in those areas—have the highest densities of certain customer segments, helping brands match up on the OOH ad units in those areas that are most likely to be seen and to drive action by those consumers.

Finally, knowing that out-of-home advertising is the ultimate contextual medium—as in, they can be strategically placed in contexts that align with specific consumer behaviors or mindsets—we also provide a contextual targeting solution that helps brands put their messages in a context that’s likely to perform well. For example, if you run a fitness apparel or supplement brand, you’ll want to target fitness enthusiasts with OOH ads inside gyms and other fitness facilities as well as in their surrounding environment. This is a great way to ensure that your message reaches consumers when they are likely to be most receptive to your brand.

9. OOH advertising is not measurable

The other half of the data-driven coin is around measurement. After all, if you’ve used all of the resources available to you in AdQuick to target your OOH ad units to the right audiences, you’re likely going to want to know how those ads performed—beyond eyeballs (impressions) alone.

Fortunately, our platform gives marketers the ability to:

  • Track, isolate, and compare OOH ad unit performance
  • Gauge offline-to-online conversion (with accuracy)
  • Measure true ROI as a function of brand lift
  • Optimize campaigns in real-time to boost ongoing success

And here’s the cherry on top: All this applies to both digital and static OOH media. So, if you ever thought that out-of-home advertising lived in a black box where there was no real way to understand performance, beyond your gut instinct alone, it’s time to think again.

Forget the past and step into the future of OOH advertising

The big (and what should, hopefully, be simple) takeaway here is that out-of-home advertising has changed a lot over the last few years. It’s not the same beast that it was before—and this is actually a great thing for you. Because as brands and marketers, you now have easy access to a better way to plan, buy, execute, and measure OOH ad campaigns that, thanks to a wealth of data and insights, have a much greater chance of performing to your heart’s content.

So, let go of all of your assumptions and misconceptions from the past and embrace the future of out-of-home advertising. And if you need any help along the way, the team at AdQuick is ready to ensure OOH ad campaigns go off without a hitch.

Feel free to schedule a demo today to learn more about how you can make the most out of your OOH media buys with AdQuick.  

Did you like this article?  Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive more insight-packed OOH knowledge straight to your inbox: