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Outdoor advertising (or Out-of-Home) targets consumers when they are outside of their homes, commuting, shopping or visiting public spaces.

Step outside your office and more often than not you’re exposed to a whole host of outdoor advertising messages. Roadside billboards, bus shelter posters, digital screens at petrol stations and other public spaces, bus wraparounds and adverts at railway stations– outdoor advertising is a familiar part of every day life.

Recently, Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising has seen somewhat of regeneration, particularly with the introduction of new technology to the medium making OOH increasingly compatible with digital marketing. And it’s been proven to trigger more online activity than any other offline advertising channels – including TV, radio and print.

For this reason alone, any marketing strategy worth its salt needs to consider how OOH advertising could be best used to reach consumers. So here are 4 top tips from OOH professionals to get you started in creating an effective outdoor advertising campaign.

1. Use the data available to you to establish a strategy

As with any marketing campaign, planning is an essential ingredient to creating a successful outdoor advert. Define your audience and establish the purpose of the advert. What message do you want to communicate? Where? And for how long?

Now, more than ever, we have tools available to us to inform strategy, timing and placement of outdoor advertising. As Nancy Fletcher (president of the OAAA) highlighted, “New capabilities in how we collect, process and analyse data will allow us to understand, segment, and target OOH audiences with a lot more precision”.

Anyone marketing their business online (which is basically everyone these days) has ready access to customer data and online tools like Google Analytics to measure advertising success. Apply this to OOH by testing ad creatives online before committing to a billboard or bus stop ad – which messages generate the most click-through rates, page impressions and longest dwell times? You can also use online data to determine where best to place OOH ads by using IP addresses and mobile tracking to identify which locations see the greatest click-through-rates and conversions. Once you’ve pinpointed these locations, you’ll know which OOH sites will be most successful at reaching your consumers.

2. Book OOH locations strategically

So you’ve used your data to establish whom you’re targeting, when and in which locations. Now you need to book the OOH sites that you want to advertise on.

In the past OOH advertising was the reserve of wealthy companies investing in nationwide advertising campaigns. But these days, you don’t need a multi-million pound marketing budget to run an outdoor advertising campaign. Online OOH booking tools make it much easier to cherry-pick OOH sites according to your unique requirements. And digital OOH screens mean that you can choose to display your ads at only the specific times of day you are most likely to reach consumers.

So, if you’re a fast food restaurant looking to reach hungry passers-by on their way home from a night out you may want to book bus shelter and phone box ad space on pedestrian routes near to your restaurant. And if you’re booking a digital screen, you could choose to display your ads only on weekend evenings after 9pm.

Booking OOH locations strategically is the best way to guarantee an outdoor advertising campaign that will bring you the greatest return at minimal cost.

3. Communicate your message effectively

The average attention span of someone passing an OOH ad is somewhere between 2-3 seconds. That’s 2-3 seconds for someone to register your brand, understand your message and what they need to do to respond.

Since we process images 60,000 times quicker than we process text, the right visuals are key to a successful outdoor ad. You need to select an image that will cut through the busy urban environment to reach your audience, whilst supporting your ad copy. Stick to one powerful image that grabs attention and conveys your message clearly whilst fitting with the tone of your brand.

When it comes to choosing typography, make sure your font is large enough and clear enough to read quickly. There are certain font styles and colours that the human eye finds easier to process.

Writing ad copy is perhaps the most difficult part of designing an outdoor ad. Concision is key, and the general advice is to stick to six words or less. Remember an outdoor ad can be supported by other advertising mediums (like a website) if you need to convey a more complex message or open a conversation with consumers.

4. Integrate your outdoor advert with social media

The effect of a single billboard ad can be multiplied ten-fold when used alongside social media.

It could be as simple as choosing a unique, memorable hashtag to display on your ad, like the National Geographic’s #SaveTogether OOH campaign. Or, if you have the means, you could integrate your ad with new digital technology, like KFC’s recent free snapchat filter campaign or Ribena’s current “Doodle Your World” OOH campaign.

The beauty of digital advertising panels is that they allow for real-time connections with social media feeds. Earlier this year, Cancer Research UK linked social media feeds to digital screens across the London Underground in order to raise awareness of their fundraiser events. They used Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to encourage followers to post their own images using the tag #RaceLace. Tagged-user media was then shared across digital out-of-home screens. Not only did this raise awareness of the fundraiser events in some of the UK’s busiest urban locations, but it also provided a real-world incentive that resulted in an increased social media presence.

As outdoor advertising continues to merge with digital technology, the opportunities it offers become increasingly exciting. Easy access to data enables to inform our OOH purchasing decisions effectively, online booking systems provide ease of access to businesses with smaller budgets, and links to online media accelerates the reach and impact of well-designed outdoor adverts.