If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAH_AAAAJGQ1NmVjMTY5LTFhMzgtNDg0OC04NjFlLTk5NTczNzdiNTZjYgThree seconds.  That’s the viewability of an average billboard, assuming you’re going 65 mph down a highway and the billboard is 300 feet down the road.

This is 6x shorter than the average digital display ad. With such little exposure to the customer, it can be challenging to make an impact in a silo, however billboard advertising continues to play an integral role in many marketing plans and is poised to grow. When you talk about creative media vehicles, Out of Home is not usually the first channel that comes to mind. But in the age of being inundated by online video and expandable ads, the digital world can learn a thing or two from their great uncle.

After the dust of the last 15 years settles, OOH placements continue to stand out, and as a recent article in Media Village points out, may even benefit the most from the ‘consumer revolt.’ While marketers should not run out and shift all of their investment to this channel, there is an opportunity to take a fresh look at the role this channel plays in your overall media investment and consider these 3 rules when doing so:

Be Location-Relevant: Heading up the NJ Turnpike towards the Lincoln Tunnel is a billboard above a commuter train lot that reads: ‘Getting there is not half the fun.’ Those of us who have had the pleasure of sitting in Lincoln Tunnel traffic can attest to that statement’s truth and the time and sanity that lot offers commuters. This type of ‘right place, right message’ is what OOH can use to break-through the noise and clutter of everything else.

Be Concise: If it can be read in under 5 seconds, it can be included. Whether driving down the highway, stopped at a light or walking past a bus stop, these ads rarely invoke someone to stop and stare long enough to read more. The amount of space and size this channel offers can be enticing to a copywriter, but it is important to curb that desire and focus on a simple, concise message.

Be Memorable: Similar to the Lincoln Tunnel example, you want to leave people with a lasting impression that may impact behavior later. Anyone who has driven down the east coast and crossed the border from North Carolina into South Carolina can easily recall the billboards for South of the Border that start about 50+ miles north of the attraction. By the time you get to the border you feel you have known about this place forever and are almost compelled to stop. Almost…

Relevance has been a focus of the digital ad business for the past two decades, and that’s largely because marketers understand the value of perfect timing and placement.  Outside of places like Times Square, traditional OOH hasn’t had the issues we’ve been having in digital with abundant clutter.  And we can apply some of our creative thinking about relevance to this medium to reap tremendous benefit.  After all, digital strategists have been thinking about right place, right location, and right message for a long time.