What are the Different Types of Outdoor Advertising?

by Nigel Webster
on 10th July 2018

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In the modern world, technology enables us to exercise a level of creativity in outdoor advertising that would have been impossible only a few years ago, and there are more types of Out Of Home Media (OOHM) available now than ever before. In the modern commercial landscape, creative marketing professionals are only really limited by budget, imagination, and their awareness of the tools available to them.

Understanding the various channels that can be used, their purposes, and the contexts in which they are most effective is crucial to ensuring the success of an OOHM campaign. With both traditional and more innovative types of outdoor advertising available, making the right choice as a business requires some insider knowledge. Here then are some of the most valuable types of outdoor advertising:

1. Billboard advertising

Billboard advertising is one of, if not the most recognisable mediums synonymous with OOHM. These large posters came into common usage all the way back in the early 19th century, and have remained one of the most popular forms of outdoor advertising ever since.

While the materials used to construct and print these adverts have changed and evolved, the basic concept of a large printed advertisement – positioned prominently in the public eye – is a cornerstone of the OOHM marketplace.

Billboards offer marketers and advertisers a wide degree of flexibility in their campaign, and are available in all kinds of sizes, and in all kinds of places. Billboards are often situated along roadsides (on bridges or independant stands) and in proximity to areas of high footfall, such as shopping centres, stadiums, and city centres.

Types of billboards

Billboards come in a variety of formats, with the definition of ‘billboard’ itself stating that they are ‘a large outdoor board for displaying advertisements’. This is a fairly broad description, and as such, the types of billboards available include:

Static billboards: Such as the ones typically seen on a roadside

Mobile billboards: These are transported on the back of a vehicle such as a car or bicycle;

Digital billboards: LED screens that allow digitally animated advertisements to be displayed.

Within each of these sub-categories, there are countless individual options available. Billboards can come in almost any shape and size, can be hand-painted, printed graphically, or managed digitally, and they can be rented for varying amounts of time.  

Primary purposes:

Billboards usually form one element of an integrated advertising campaign, and their bold and instantly recognisable format suits campaigns with a strong, simple message. With this said, there aren’t really any campaigns for which billboard advertising inherently won’t work – if the message can be conveyed with a static (or moving, as is the case with digital) image, it will likely suit a billboard advert.

This type of outdoor advertising is particularly beneficial for raising awareness of a brand, product, or promotion – and their ubiquitous presence and relative cost-efficiency means they can be used as a galvanising force in all kinds of campaigns.  

2. Point of sale advertising

While some types of outdoor advertising are intended to attract the attention of a wide range of consumers, point of sale advertising (also known as ‘POS’ or ‘POP’ – point of purchase) is a little more specific.

This type of advertising involves an advert or display positioned in proximity to a ‘point of sale’ such as the checkout section of a supermarket, or near the queue in a clothes store, with the intention of promoting a product to a consumer right as they’re about to make a purchase.

Types of point of sale advertising

As the term ‘point of sale’ simply refers to the location and environment of this type of advertising, the forms it can take are almost limitless. Some of the most common and recognisable types of point of sale advertising include:

Adverts above containers: A simple visual poster or aid situated above a basket, cooler, or other container full of the promoted product;

Branded display stands: Printed and branded display stands, made of materials ranging from cardboard to fully printed perspex.

Primary purpose:

The psychological theory behind point of sale advertising is fairly straightforward: as the target audience is about to make a purchase anyway, they’re likely to be more open to the suggestion of adding another product to their basket, particularly if that product is on offer, or is unique to the store they’re in. The products, brands, and promoted items are carefully chosen to be of interest to the specific buyer – for instance, shoe polish and laces at the checkout of a bootmaker.

The use of point of sale campaigns is also particularly beneficial to brands or marketers promoting a product that is currently discounted, or that is a limited or special edition. The implied pressure of only being able to take advantage of the offer ‘there and then’ can persuade a consumer that the immediate purchase of the item is in their best interest.

3. Retail advertising

Ceiling banner for Bullring Centre

Another immensely popular and successful form of OOHM, retail advertising takes place specifically in or around retail environments, such as stores and shopping centres. In recent years, improvements in printing technology have expanded the options that are available to marketers and advertisers, from simple printed adverts to more memorable displays that leave a lasting impression.

Retail advertising often promotes businesses in proximity to the environment in which the adverts are situated (such as a store with an outlet in a shopping centre), and entices customers to visit their premises. Retail environments such as malls also provide ample space for large-scale displays by prominent brands, with more elaborate advertisements now a common sight.

Types of retail advertising

Retail advertising takes many forms, and can be applied on many scales, making it a viable option for businesses of all sizes and budgets. Some of the most effective and prominent types of retail advertising include:

Lift graphics: These are printed to vinyl and adhered to the surface of lift doors, allowing for creative and memorable two-part visual designs

Floor graphics: Floor graphics are adhered to the floor of a retail environment, allowing marketers to creatively provide an immersive advertising environment;

Mall media: Refers to media including floor and roof graphics, window films and banners, used for retail advertisements in a large shopping mall space. 

Primary purpose:

Generally speaking, the main purpose of retail advertising is to entice consumers into visiting a store or purchasing a product that is in relative proximity to where they saw the advert.

Retail advertising differs from something like the use of billboards mainly because of its immediacy. Retail adverts often aren’t solely intended to increase brand awareness (although this is an inevitable byproduct), but to actively drive foot traffic and sales to the relevant store.

4. Vehicle advertising

While static adverts such as billboards can be an effective way to capitalise on an area of high traffic, the number of people reached is limited to that specific location. Vehicle advertising avoids this, and instead presents an on-the-go advertisement in the form of a printed graphic either placed on the side of the vehicle in question, or as a vinyl wrap covering its body.

This is an effective and popular type of outdoor advertising due to the increased exposure it offers. The vehicle in question (often a taxi, bus, or van) is constantly on the move, and so the advert is able to reach people in a much wider catchment area.

This increases brand awareness on a much larger scale, and can provide a valuable source of exposure to national businesses, or those with multiple locations. Vehicle advertising can also be an effective means of reinforcing the presence of a business in a given area, if a fleet of vehicles with the same branding is seen regularly.

Types of vehicle advertising:

Vehicle advertising can apply to any number of specific vehicles, but these are usually produced by graphic printing firms in the following formats.

Truck and fleet liveries: companies with their own fleet of trucks or vehicles can have vinyl wrap liveries applied to the body of the vehicles displaying their branding, or advertising a product or promotion;

Taxi wraps: taxi fleets also offer an opportunity for outdoor advertising, and will sometimes allow advertisers to use their vehicles as advertising space for vinyl wrap branding;

Bus adverts: buses also offer their large surface areas up for advertising, with specific panels dedicated to printed advertisements.

Primary purpose:

The main intention of a vehicle advertisement is usually to increase brand awareness, but it can also work as an integrated part of a specific campaign. Fleet liveries (on taxis or vans) are a good way of increasing the presence of a brand, particularly if that brand works with delivery or goods shipment.

With this said, it’s worth noting that many companies also rent space on the side of their vehicles – the advert you see on the side of a truck, for instance, isn’t always representative of the delivery or work that truck is actually involved in. This can give the impression that the business advertised is in fact more prolific than they necessarily are, which can serve to increase and maintain a positive brand image.

5. Construction advertising

Printed scaffolding covers on a building in London

At any given moment there will be multiple construction sites in operation in both urban and rural areas. The necessity for protective barriers – such as hoardings and scaffold covers – offers more than just a way of keeping the public and workmen safe, and presents a unique opportunity for outdoor advertising.

Construction adverts can feature a preview of the project that’s underway, or a promotion for the company or companies involved with the work. Alternatively, they can promote other local businesses who rent the available spaces.  

There is something of a balancing act to strike with construction advertising, as local councils and authorities will often dictate the kinds of adverts that can and cannot be used. For instance, here are a number of rules and regulations for construction hoarding graphics that determine whether the designs will be accepted.

Types of construction advertising:

There are a number of spaces and ways that advertising can take place on a construction site, and they are some of the most visible and flexible types of outdoor advertising available. Examples include:

Hoarding graphics: The protective hoarding around a construction site presents a fantastic opportunity for outdoor advertising, and graphic printing onto vinyl can be used for a long-lasting and high-impact advert.

Scaffold wraps: Modern wide-format printing technology allows graphics to be printed directly onto the protective meshes that surround building scaffolds, turning them into eye-catching OOH opportunities;

Building wraps: For larger projects with extensive scaffolding or structural support, building wraps can be printed that cover the entire structure, providing a visual facade that can also serve as a form of outdoor advertising.

Primary purpose:

As a result of the more tightly regulated nature of construction advertising, these forms of OOH are often used to specifically promote the project taking place; for instance, they might preview the look of the finished project, or provide information as to what the construction project is actually for. Similarly, simple brand advertisements are also used to promote the construction or contracting firms involved.

It’s also worth noting that part of the purpose of construction advertising is to ensure local authorities sign off on its display. Because of this, construction adverts need to take into account the local environment, and how they can visually assimilate in an aesthetically pleasing way.

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Written by
Nigel Webster Managing Director