Advantages And Disadvantages Of Outdoor Advertising In An Online World

In a world where more and more people pour into spending money online to achieve their marketing goals, it appears the out of home advertising has been disregarded by more and more companies and while it might not be a fatal mistake for your business, you may be turning down a marketing platform that offers handsome returns when done correctly.

Outdoor advertising allows you to make a big impact, target people in specifically selected areas and demographics, target large numbers of people and have a big impact on Brand awareness. It is also evolving in its own right with smart, digital banners popping up worldwide that allows you to buy at times that suit and not to waste budget when your target customer is not around. All of this factors contribute in making out of home advertising a growing market again.

Without further adue, let’s jump straight into the advantages and disadvantages of Outdoor Advertising in 2020 and beyond.


Outdoor Ad Quick Stats:

  • Outdoor Ads Reach 98% of the public every week
  • Bus Stop Ads Reach 92% Of The Population every week
  • 35% Of People Have Visited A Website In Response To An Outdoor Ad
  • Outdoor Advertising Costs 80% Less Than TV Advertising
  • 65% Of People Learned About A Restaurant They Later Visited From An Outdoor Ad

#1 Outdoor Advertising Has Become Smart

I walked into the local shop the other day as there was ice cold Pepsi dancing it’s way out of it’s can on a smart screen in the drinks section. I only came in for a bottle of milk but it caught my attention anyway.

Smart billboards started out with a kind of rotation technique where the Ads would loop around in perpetuity, not really that smart but cramming multiple ads into one spot none the less.

Smart digital outdoor banners have come along further gains and are doing a great job in making this form of advertising extra relevant again. If you are targeting people going to and coming home from work, you may only need to run your ads between 8-10am and 4-6pm everyday.

In the old days you would need a big paper billboard and be showing your ad all the time. Now you only need to pay for advertising when your target customer in the vicinity.

The ads can swap over to other offers for Saturday party and event goers and this is making a much better use of the advertising space with much better returns for those who just to purchase the advertising space.


#2 So Many Options To Chose From

One option that jumps out at me is a presidential election some years ago where the opposition candidate chose to fly a big airplane around the other candidates rally with a humorous message which of course ended up all over Youtube later that day. It’s safe to say that Outdoor advertising is the genius’ playground. There are even outdoor ads in toilets, proving how versatile the methods are.

Outdoor advertising isn’t just large billboards, it is everywhere. In shops, malls, buses, taxi, metro lies, buildings, cars, vans, trash cans and on peoples clothes. Thinking about your last long drive or bus trip, how many ads did you see on Trucks, sheds and billboards along the otherwise uninhabited space? How many times have you seen a outdoor ad while stuck in traffic.

There are options to chose from for every marketing goal and budget and the great thing about outdoor advertising is that you can get really creative and generate huge awareness even for free if you do it well enough.


#3 Reach

98% of people are subject to seeing outdoor advertising every week and if your offering appeals to a large segment of the population, outdoor advertising is a great way to reach as many of those potential customers as possible.

If you know where you target customer base is going to be and your segment is smaller, you can advertise in the perfect place where they are going to be like near football stadiums or attending festivals.


#4 Frequency

One of the key metrics we track in online marketing is frequency. How many times the same person see’s your ad and with out door advertising, the frequency we achieve can be huge.

If someone travels the same journey to their work every day, they are going to see your advertisement every day and it will can make a big impact on the person seeing the ad when it comes time to purchase your product.

A few well placed ads around a particular area and everybody in that area is likely to see your ad frequently and on multiple occasions, think McDonalds ads on all around the place or events for an upcoming show or event.


#5 Brand Awareness

With high reach and frequency, comes brand awareness. When people are ready to make a purchase in your niche and they are already familiar with your brand, they are far more likely to chose you over an unknown competitor.



#6 Make A Bigger Impact

Online advertising has become huge and it is incredibly effective but it can be more of a nuisance than something people actually stand back and take notice of.

People want to scroll or click past it as quickly as they can.

An effective outdoor ad in the right setting can have a major impact. If you can resonate with someone’s emotions through an outdoor ad, they are likely to remember your brand and maybe even tell their friends about it.

Think Paddy Power renting out a field next a major horse riding championship and bashing their competitor with a major ad. The stir quickly transcended online and increased Paddy Powers culture of mischievous banter.



#7 Hit Your Target Customers Where They Are

Number 1 rule of marketing: Go where your target customers already are.

You may not get the pin point, laser accuracy that you can get online but you have an incredible chance to hit your customers where they are.

You will see this everywhere in shopping malls where the cinema and eating establishments will have ads taken out to try to lure you in as you shop or the betting shop advertising everywhere when you go to a sports event.

When you stop to take notice, outdoor advertising is almost every where and the biggest advantages are the reach and the brand awareness. This is probably why the government use outdoor advertising to get across their initiatives.


#8 Scale

If you start in one area and notice a good uptick in sales, you can scale outdoor to other similar areas and expand your campaign 1 step and a time to grow and expand your business into new areas.


Disadvantages Of Online Advertising

While the reach and brand awareness are great, online is the undeniable king of marketing right now and that is not going to change because there are a couple of disadvantages with outdoor advertising that are hard to overcome for many marketers when compared with online.



While you can nail the marketing in outdoors, it is going to be a lot harder. With someone like Google or Facebook, you can pick the demographics straight out of the options including age, sex, income, interests and location to the km, and that is the less targeted option.

Intent based advertising means you only show you ad when someone types in a query looking for your business so you only pay when someone takes action to visit your website and potentially become a customer.



Once someone visits your website, you can remarket to them, ie after the first visit they will see your display ads and youtube videos until they make a purchase. This is incredibly powerful and effective.



With Google analytics, you can tell what channel someone came from, how many visits they made, what they bought and much more. This allows you to identify the amount you can spend on advertising to break even and this will allow you to advertise with confidence, even if you don’t have a huge budget.

Measurement is probably the biggest downfall of outdoor advertising.


Go Viral

Just like in the outdoor space, you can go viral on Facebook if your offer resonates with enough people and if people share your ad, the extra reach you get will be free and far reaching.



Since you can understand your returns on Ad Spend so well, you can scale a successful ad to the moon once you are getting the returns you need, this is one of the main reasons why online advertising is so powerful.



Outdoor ads take time to set up and you may lose some momentum, you can have online ads running within an hour or two, hitting your target customers with your messaging immediately.


Try Different Ads

Creating an outdoor ad takes time and it can be difficult to test different options outside of a research setting.

With online ads, you can try multiple versions of similar ads and understand which ones work the best quickly with real time data while results will not be so quick with outdoor ads where it might take weeks or months to understand what was successful.


Customers Can Take Action Immediately

If a potential customer sees your ad, they can click straight through to your website and make a purchase or they fill out your contact form and register their interest immediately without having to wait until they get home and potentially forget.

Another reason why online is so powerful is you can capture attention and a sale immediately without any need for someone to take out their phone or wait until they get home.



Overall we can see that outdoor advertising is an excellent medium for reach and brand awareness for new companies or those that want to scale but if you want to generate sales and measure your returns more successfully, online advertising is probably where you should go to maximize your budget. There is nothing wrong with taking a holistic approach either and incorporating both into your marketing mix.