If placed side by side, America’s 368,000 billboards, posters and other outdoor signs would stretch more than 1,900 miles—the distance from Santa Fe to NYC.

According to research firm Borrell Associates, Out of Home (OOH) advertising has grown by a steep 77 percent since 2009 and gives no signs of slowing down anytime soon. It is the only category of traditional advertising that has grown steadily over the past five years, despite the disruption of the Internet. Mobile advertising is also experiencing steep and sustained growth; eMarketer predicts that mobile advertising will continue to drive the majority of growth in digital ad spending.

One of OOH advertising’s biggest challenges is how difficult it is to obtain data on ROI, which is where mobile has an advantage. This begs the question—how can advertisers take advantage of both OOH and mobile advertising to maximize the effectiveness of their ad campaigns? The answer is by integrating the two strategies. Marketers must integrate both offline and online marketing to capture the growing value of both OOH and digital advertising. It’s a strategy Placecast are having increased success with having tested it first in the UK with our partner Mobsta.

Out-of-Home and In-Hand


OOH is growing for a reason. First, and most obviously, it has broadcasting capability. Outdoor signage is highly visible and public. While it can reach a mass market (i.e. it is not subject to media fragmentation), it can be used to efficiently target a specific audience as well. OOH advertising also demands attention. You can’t skip or turn off a billboard–it is “on” 24 hours a day.

OOH ads cultivate awareness and emphasize the strength of a brand. According to JCDecaux, outdoor advertising creates a “big brand feel.” It reinforces the availability, adds to the brand’s stature, and builds dominance, as well as loyalty. When placed near a store, that ad can provide the final “hit” that gets a customer to go inside and/or make a purchase. Plus, it’s cost-effective.

And then there are mobile ads. Companies can get creative with mobile ads and engage customers in new ways. Mobile allows for first-party data collection, giving businesses greater insight into their customers’ behaviors and enabling more nuanced targeting. By tracking where customers go, advertisers can use location-based mobile services to send the right ad to the right customer at the right time. Mobile advertising is far more personal than OOH ads, providing a channel to build real, interactive relationships.


Broadcast, Pinpoint, Demonstrate


By combining OOH and mobile advertising, advertisers can utilize the strengths of both outdoor and digital strategies by broadcasting, pinpointing, and demonstrating the efficacy in collected data.

When broadcasting, companies can use OOH advertising to reach as many eyeballs as possible, and then collect mobile data about the impact that the ads had on customer behavior. Did they go into the store? Did they make a purchase?

Next, integrating OOH and digital gives business the ability to pinpoint. They can use the collected mobile location data to drive personalization by better planning OOH campaigns, segment users based on location, and build audiences for targeted campaigns and extended reach. Mobile data provides insight into who is in those areas and likely to respond to the ad, which strengthens the impact of the campaign.

And third, advertisers can combine these two approaches to demonstrate the impact of their campaigns. Mobile data also serves as real-time store visit analysis, reporting to understand the impact of advertising and ROI. Brands don’t have to guess the impact that their OOH had—they’ll actually know.


Upward Spiral


OOH and mobile can complement each other to become an upward spiral of success. Big companies have already begun to bridge outdoor with mobile. For example, General Motors is using cameras on billboards to identify cars from other automakers and then uses audience measurement techniques from mobile data. Coors Light is running ads on kiosks that direct people to open Shazam for a list of the most-searched songs in that neighborhood. Mobile ads then tell people the closest location where they can buy Coors Light.

Despite the growth of online commerce and advertising, consumers still make decisions in “the real world.” Most people don’t live their lives entirely online or entirely offline. The lines are blurring, and advertising should reflect that. Plus, people are bombarded by digital ads and have grown adept at ignoring them. The mobile advertisers that succeed will be those that can cut through the noise and capture customer attention outside the tiny screen of their phone.


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Location data, from mobile devices, enables marketers to connect online and offline experiences that consumers can’t ignore, nor will they want to. Brands can use one form of advertising to inform and enhance the other, ultimately creating a more powerful experience. The key is to impart value, using mobile data to make outdoor creative “more compelling, contextual and useful.”