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Out-of-home advertising

The aim of his short essay is to outline and discuss the concept of out-of-home advertising and how advertisers can use it to support other categories of advertising as part of their advertising campaign. The essay will begin with a definition an explanation of out-of-home advertising. This will further progress by outlining the benefits, characteristics and the rationale and strategies for its use to support other categories of advertising.

In the past out-of-home advertising was simply called outdoor advertising, however, over time as new advertising formats and avenues for advertising were developed, outdoor advertising was no longer an appropriate term (Altstiel and Grow, 2006). Today, out-of-home advertising is a term that covers “all advertising that’s seen outside of the home but is not in the point-of-sale category” (ibid, p. 217). Out-of-home advertising incorporates a very broad range of various formats. Surmanek (1996) categorises a sample of out-of-home media according to a common reference. The common references that he lists include outdoor, transit, in-store, place-based and miscellaneous (See Appendix 1). When reviewing the various formats that out-of-home advertising can occur in, it becomes clear why the term outdoor advertising is no longer appropriate. Apart from advertising that occurs outdoors, out-of-home advertisingcan include advertising that is seen on the interior of the public transport system, inside phone booths, placards which are placed on the front of shopping trolleys, and various forms of advertising and shopping centres, as a few examples.

Out-of-home advertising offers the advertiser many opportunities and advantages, which is why it is becoming more commonly used as part of an integrated marketing communication campaign. This form of advertising has a relatively low cost per exposure, since it is classified as a type of mass communication in which the message is exposed to a very large volume of consumers in a particular region. Pride, Hughes and Kapoor (2011) support this view by stating that for a relatively inexpensive cost “out-of-home advertising allows marketers to focus on a particular geographic area” (p. 453). It needs to be noted, however, that while marketing texts use the term “low cost”, the actual numerical cost of the advertising can still amount to many hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the type of out-of-home advertisement and the level of exposure that it provides. The cost advantages of out-of-home advertisingare based on the actual cost of the advertising which is spread across the large percentage of the population which the message reaches. Stanton, Miller & Layton (1994) explain that out-of-home advertising allows the marketer to reach a large percentage of the population due to the mobile nature of our society. The cost advantages of out-of-home advertising is one of the reasons that advertisers use it. The Australian Outdoor Media Association, as displayed in Appendix 2, calculates out-of-home advertisingto provide the third best return on investment (ROI) compared to other advertising formats such as television, print, radio, online and cinema. Technically, cinema advertising is also classified as a form ofout-of-home advertising, since the cinema is clearly not at home. However, the Australian Outdoor Media Association categorises cinema advertising in a category on its own.

O’Guinn, Allen & Semenik (2012) consider out-of-home advertising as a form of support media. According to the authors “the traditional support media include billboard, transit, aerial, cinema, and directory advertising” (p. 569). The reason why it is best used to support other categories of advertising rather than be used as the primary means to advertise, is because it “must be limited to a few words because the audience is really moving” (Pride et al, 2011, p. 453).

Advertising can have a number of objectives. One objective is to “inform consumers about a new product or feature and to build primary demand” (Kotler, Adam, Brown and Armstrong, 2006, p. 438). This is termed informative advertising. Persuasive advertising is used “to build selected demand for a brand by persuading consumers that it offers the best quality for their money” (ibid). One form of persuasive advertising is termed comparison advertising which “compares one brand directly or indirectly with one or more other brands” (ibid). These three forms of advertising has fairly ambitious objectives, and as a result, require a fair amount of detail in the message that is presented in the advertisement. They may also require the message to be presented over a longer period of time in order for the consumer to absorb information. Integrated marketing campaigns will have at least one of these objectives that the campaign will try to achieve. As a result, an appropriate advertising medium is chosen which will be used in order to achieve the objective. There is a fourth advertising objective, and that is to ensure that consumers keep thinking about the product. This requires reminder advertising. Reminder advertising is used to enforce the message that has been presented previously with other elements of the integrated marketing communication campaign. It is here that out-of-home advertising is most appropriate. As stated previously, because the audience is on the move, the message provided on an out-of-home advertisementis limited and in most cases will not provide much detail. This is not a problem as a form of reminder advertising. Out-of-home advertisements are usually almost always on display, which is very helpful for reinforcing existing brands, and due to the large canvas can combine selling with entertainment. This form of advertising is relatively exclusive since it allows for a specific location to be selected. These are all very important factors which can help to support and reinforce the primary advertising strategies that make up the integrated marketing campaign. The effectiveness of out-of-home advertising to support other forms of advertising is illustrated in Appendix 3, which compares the return on investment of various forms of advertising with and without the support of out-of-home advertising as part of a campaign. The chart presented in Appendix 3 illustrates that in almost all cases, even with the additional investment required to incorporate out-of-home advertising in the marketing campaign, the return on investment on the whole integrated marketing campaign is increased by doing so.

Appendix 4 illustrates that out-of-home advertising is also quite effective as a form of advertising in itself. Due to the exposure that it provides to the audience, it increases the retention rate of the message. At a retention rate of 70%, only television advertising has a better retention rate than the 55% which is achieved as a result of out-of-home advertising, as given in research conducted by the Australian Outdoor Media Association (2011).

In conclusion, out-of-home advertising is commonly used by advertisers to support their other categories of advertising due to its ability to multiply and expand the return on investment of the other media channels that are used as part of integrated marketing campaign. By using out-of-home advertising, the marketer increases the memory of the rest of the advertising campaign, which can help to deliver an increased return on investment. Out-of-home advertising is also an efficient and effective advertising channel in its own right, and can reach an audience as large as that which is reached by television, at a fraction of the cost.


Altstiel, T & Grow, J 2006, Advertising Strategy: Creative Tactics from the Outside/In, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California.

O’Guinn, TC, Allen, CT & Semenik, RJ 2012, Advertising and Integrated Brand Promotion, 6th edn, Cengage Learning/South-Western, Mason, Ohio.

Outdoor Media Association 2011, “Outsmart: Why Out-Of-Home is a Clever Investment”.

Pride, WM, Hughes, RJ & Kapoor, JR 2011, Business, 11th edn, Cengage Learning/South-Western, Mason, Ohio.

Stanton, WJ, Miller, KE & Layton, RA 1994, Fundamentals of Marketing, 3rd Australian edn, McGraw Hill Book Company, Sydney.

Surmanek, J 1996, Media Planning: A Practical Guide, 3rd edn, NTC Business Books, Chicago, Illinios.

APPENDIX 1 – Examples of Out of Home Media 

Common Reference Example
Outdoor Posters, paints.
Transit Bus and tram exteriors, bus and tram interiors, rail/subway posters, bus/train station posters and clocks.
In store Audio systems, shelf talkers, shopping trolley card cards/videos, hanging aisle posters.
Place-based School bulletin boards, bike racks, health club interiors, sports arena posters.
Miscellaneous Inflatable balloons, skywriting, in-movie theatre (Cinema), telephone booth enclosures.

SOURCE: Surmanek, J, 1996, Media Planning: A Practical Guide, 3rd edn, NTC Business Books, Chicago, Illinios, p. 129.

APPENDIX 2 – Return on Investment

Out of Home Advertising - Appendix 2

SOURCE: Outdoor Media Association 2011, “Outsmart: Why Out-Of-Home is a Clever Investment”, p. 5.

APPENDIX 3 – Return on Investment

Out of Home Advertising - Appendix 3

SOURCE: Outdoor Media Association 2011, “Outsmart: Why Out-Of-Home is a Clever Investment”, p. 7.

APPENDIX 4 – Retention Rate of Previous Week’s Activity

Out of Home Advertising - Appendix 4

SOURCE: Outdoor Media Association 2011, “Outsmart: Why Out-Of-Home is a Clever Investment”, p. 8.