While Internet advertising is the “new thing”, outdoor or out-of-home advertising can be a very effective and affordable method to get your message out to your target market. With people spending more and more time in their vehicles (it is estimated the 150 million commute to work daily), you have a captive audience and the message is hard to miss.

A common example of outdoor advertising is the use of billboards along the highway; it is interesting to note that use of billboards originated in the 19th century with printed signs posted on wooden boards. Flashing to the present, billboards can now be electronic and customizable; in fact, they can be rented by the hour and deliver multiple messages. And, billboards are hard to miss.

A newer form of outdoor advertising includes car, bus, and train “wrapping”. As it sounds, a car is wrapped bumper to bumper with digitally-printed adhesive material. City buses can be rented on a monthly basis and plastered with over 90 feet of printed vinyl graphics. Amtrack offers space on the sides of their rail cars; you can deliver your message when your customers are stopped at the railroad crossing. Private autos can be transformed into mobile advertisements, while the car owner is commissioned $400-500 per month; this method is especially good at targeting college students, since no one else would be crazy enough to do this to their car.

If you have the budget, hot air balloons have proven to be incredibly effective for reaching a mass audience. Still a rarity that makes people gasp and point, the Goodyear blimp is the biggest mobile outdoor advertisement on the planet. Smaller scale hot air balloons include replicas of beer cans, football helmets, cartoon characters, autos, and bumblebees. Attend an outdoor professional football game and you will be entertained all game long with floating advertisements. On a smaller scale, car dealerships know the value of balloons for weekend sales; they get attention and they are dirt cheap.

Maybe more accessible and affordable is the use of “wild posting” which includes “rock band” stickers that are plastered on street signs, or flyers posted in public restrooms for an upcoming concert. Another form of wild posting is the use of elaborate signs drawn in colored chalk on sidewalks in public areas; this method targets the younger demographic and has a short life, but can be amazingly effective.

The use of professional street teams can be very effective in high-traffic urban areas. Street teams consist of a group of choreographed dancers or marchers who often carry signs or props to promote something. They ambush their audience unexpectedly with dancing, noise, music, yelling, and energy; they quickly deliver the message and move on to another street corner. The audience is typically left stunned wondering what just happened to them.

Outdoor advertising works because it is so visible and it targets the customer precisely. Other outdoor methods include bus stop benches, kiosks, store windows, sandwich signs, and sign twirlers. Outdoor advertising can deliver repetitive 24/7 exposure and it can target a specific geography such as an intersection or a Zip Code. It’s larger-than-life proportions and endless creativity demands to be noticed. Finally, the cost per customer contact is amazingly inexpensive.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
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