News & InsightsMarket Minute Blog

Out of Home Advertising: Is it Still Worth It?

Advertising is in a bit of a weird place these days, especially on the internet: with recent misuses of user data (Facebook), the GDPR, and Google cracking down on invasive and misleading ads, it seems as if there’s a war brewing between marketing agencies and, perhaps, everyone else.[i][ii][iii]

This isn’t to say that advertising is dying; on the contrary, marketing teams have more tools at their disposal than ever before to reach, impress, and ultimately convince consumers to open their wallets.

The problem is that consumers are overwhelmed: American adults already spend close to 11 hours a day interfacing (directly or indirectly) with advertisements on either a screen (TV, computer, smartphone, etc.) or over the air (radio, audiobooks, podcasts, etc.), and this time spent is only going to increase as more and more of our personal and professional lives become centered around digital devices. [iv]

In fact, consumers are spending so much time interfacing with advertisements that many of them are starting to “zone out” when exposed to online marketing materials, while others have begun blocking them from their web browser altogether, a sentiment that is reinforced by recent internet surveys reporting consumer mistrust for intrusive ads or ads that appear to be targeted to their specific interests.[v]

Despite the increase in all of this anti-advertising sentiment, there is still one type of marketing strategy that remains engaging for consumers, and it’s of the oldest forms of the trade: Out of Home Advertising (OOH).

What is Out of Home Advertising?

Out of Home Advertising (OOH) is exactly what it sounds like: advertisements that you might see while commuting to work, walking to the grocery store, or dining at a fancy restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.

Out of Home Advertising: Is it Still Worth It? 1

In many cases, OOH advertising takes the form of billboards, bus bench ads, murals, posters, and even digital kiosks.

And while these OOH marketing tactics might sound antiquated or “old school”, there are some compelling reasons as to why these traditional mediums might be more preferable than digital advertisements served on a computer, smartphone, or even over the air (OTA).

What Does the Data Say?

A Nielsen study published in 2017 offers some important insights into why companies such as Netflix, Apple, Google, and Amazon still choose to spend inordinate amounts of money on OOH marketing campaigns. [vi]

After analyzing a total of 4,020 online surveys, the Nielsen study discovered the following: 

  • 51% of adults surveyed noticed a poster advertisement in the past month, and 38% noted a poster in the past week
  • The average ad recall per poster campaign tested was 47%
  • Younger adults were more likely to notice posters, with 71% of individuals between the ages of 25 and 34 noticing a poster in the past month
  • Brands using 40 or more posters yielded substantially higher ad recall levels
  • 50% of poster viewers reported being highly engaged with the ads and looking at the messages either all or most of the time
  • Over half of poster viewers agree poster ads stand out more than ads delivered in newspapers, online, on mobiles devices, or over the radio

These findings confirm what many businesses already know: outdoor advertising works, and with consumers losing their taste for online advertisements, OOH advertising might just be the best system for delivering meaningful and impactful marketing materials to the consumer.

What’s driving this engagement?

First, there’s the simple fact that most Americans still commute to work, and a pretty billboard might literally be the only interesting thing to look at while stuck in traffic or waiting for their bus to arrive.

And even if the commuter finds the advertisement unpleasant, there’s no way (at least not yet) for them to skip or block out the ad entirely, which means that they will be engaging with the ad whether they want to or not.

Second, consumers typically don’t mind engaging with OOH ads simply because they’re non-intrusive and don’t get in the way of where they’re trying to go or what they’re trying to do.

For example, how many of us have had to close or skip an online ad, banner, or video just to get to the content that we want to see? If you don’t have an ad blocker, chances are the answer to that question is quite a lot.

However, in the real world, billboards and other OOH advertising mediums don’t physically stop you from commuting to work or make you miss your bus. Indeed, in this respect, OOH advertising becomes more of a backdrop, complementing and sometimes even enhancing our day-to-day experiences (more on that later).

Types of Outdoor Advertising

With advancements in various printing technologies, LED displays, and the internet, advertisers looking to spread their marketing materials in the world have a vast array of options at their disposal.

Of the many different avenues for advertisers to explore, traditional billboards and posters, murals, bus bench ads, and interactive billboards are far and away the most common.

Out of Home Advertising: Is it Still Worth It? 2

Billboards & Posters

Billboards are probably the most recognizable form of OOH advertising. Starting in 1835, large format billboards and posters have been used to great effect, especially by modern tech companies like Apple and Netflix.

Indeed, drive into San Francisco (especially from the south) and you’re more than likely to be stuck in traffic looking up at the latest iPhone advertisement for thirty minutes or so, followed by a Netflix billboard advertising the latest season of Stranger Things.

Other companies, like McDonald’s for instance, have been successfully using billboards for years, and their recent ad campaigns have capitalized on the shape of the golden arches to provide commuters with directions to the nearest McDonald’s Restaurant.

Needless to say, traditional billboards aren’t going anywhere, especially as more and more of them receive a high-tech facelift.

Digital Out of Home Advertising

While billboards are effective mediums for delivering advertisements, digital billboards and other digital out of home advertising (DOOH) mediums take this experience to a whole new level.

After all, there’s nothing quite like seeing a giant LED billboard alongside the road or embedded in the heart of a downtown urban center: they’re eye-catching, impossible to miss, and, most important of all, they’re dynamic.

Indeed, no matter how well-designed a traditional billboard may be, they are still (mostly) static pieces of marketing material that remain unchanged until they are taken down and replaced with something else.

On the other hand, digital billboards can show both static and animated advertisements on a rotation, which greatly increases the number of ads that can be served to commuters.

What’s more, digital billboards, in conjunction with the internet, have created an entirely new type of digital OOH advertising known as “smart billboards”.

With the power of the internet and other sophisticated sensor technologies like GPS, cameras, Beacons, and even smoke detectors, advertisers now have the power to create digital billboard experiences that can react dynamically to their environment.

As an example, using a few camera lenses and perhaps a fast connection to the internet, some billboards can display car advertisements based on the type of vehicle passing by.

In another example, a digital billboard or poster at ground level can identify characteristics such as age, demographic, and even the type of clothing and accessories the pedestrian might be wearing and serve ads according to these traits.

And while many individuals might consider this type of advertisement strategy intrusive, we have to remember that these advertisements still don’t prevent or get in the way of a driver or a pedestrian accomplishing their primary tasks and that they can easily just be ignored (for the most part), unlike intrusive digital ads.

Out of Home Advertising: Is it Still Worth It? 3


When it comes to combining artistic expression and outdoor ads, it still doesn’t get any better than a hand-painted mural.

Be it LeBron James coming to the Lakers, a movie advertisement for the latest summer blockbuster, or an advertisement for a specific product or service, murals stand out from other types of ads because of their grandiose appearance and scale. 

This is especially true for commuters and inhabitants of major urban centers (i.e., San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, etc.), as these murals essentially become the backdrop to their entire experience living and working in their respective cities.

Bus Bench Ads

Finally, bus bench ads are another common form of outdoor marketing, and they’re also one of the most effective.

For many city dwellers, riding the bus or train is an everyday occurrence, and in these cases, ads embedded in waiting areas are highly effective at delivering marketing materials to prospective consumers.

While large-scale billboards and murals can be intriguing to look at, viewing a static advertisement from just a couple feet away is an entirely different experience that still resonates with pedestrians.

The only downside is that bus bench ads are typically only effective with foot-travelers, as commuters traveling by car will often miss the ad due to their smaller size.

Future of OOH Advertising

Simply put, the future of OOH advertising is digital.

With digital billboards, advertisers have more ways than ever before to engage and deliver their message to prospective customers, and as the technology continues to evolve, we’re likely to see even more sophisticated examples of smart billboards in the coming years.

Best of all, we’re likely to see in home advertisements, like the ones currently being served online, evolve as well. As a matter of fact, they already are.

With Google cracking down on intrusive ads, the growth of Native Advertising, and even major organizations like the NFL taking steps to ensure that advertisements don’t interfere too much with the flow of a game, we as consumers are likely to see advertisements become more of a complementary element to what we actually want to experience, which is good for everyone.

Landmark Dividend’s Role

If you are a developer who’s looking for a financial solution for your next billboard project, or if you happen to be the current owner of a billboard lease, Landmark Dividend may be of service to you.

Landmark Dividend is the largest and most experienced ground lease acquisition company in the country, and we can provide you with financial solutions that are perfectly suited to your needs.

To find out more about how Landmark Dividend can help you get started on your new project, or how we can unlock the true value of your billboard lease, please call us today at 1-800-843-2024 or click here to submit your information online.

[iv] [v]