Outdoor Advertising 101 – A Beginner’s Guide

Estimated time: 25 minutes

Category: Outdoor Advertising


This module has been created to teach you the basics of outdoor advertising so you can make informed decisions about buying or selling outdoor media advertisements.  


If you are associated with the outdoor advertising industry, if you work in media production or even if you are a business owner looking to advertise your offerings, then a basic understanding of outdoor media can help you make better buying-selling decisions. The information presented in this module will help you: 

  • Navigate the media buying-selling process confidently
  • Make informed decisions about buying or selling outdoor media spots
  • Make sure you know what you are getting and ask the right questions to get the best value for your money.


By the end of this module, you will be able to: 

  • Understand the basic dynamics of outdoor media buying 
  • Apply basic strategies to position your outdoor advertisement for success

Let’s start with a few basics to help you understand outdoor advertising in general. We will cover the following topics in this module:

  • Why do advertisers like digital billboards?
  • Four basic strategies for Outdoor Advertising success.

The following section will cover the above topics in detail.


The reason advertisers like billboards:

Billboards allow for economy of scale i.e spreading the costs of the billboard and upkeep over many clients. This helps the billboard owner save money and increase their profit margin. After all, what business would not want to lower their costs and make more money!

A billboard can be an entertaining, hyperlocal marketing vehicle to target a specific set customer segment. The following are some of the potential advantages that billboards offer:


Billboards are huge and eye-catching. If designed well, billboards leave a lasting impression on the target customers that see them. 


Since no one has to pay to look at a billboard (unlike a newspaper) passers by are more likely to access the brand message being conveyed. Plus, increasing commuter traffic means that you reach a unique (and massive) customer segment with relatively less effort.  

Space Domination

Unlike broadcast media, billboards let brands display their message 24/7. The constant exposure and increased control means that there generally is very little competition for audience attention.

Four strategies for beginners

There is a learning curve for everything. If you are new to outdoor advertisements,  you will have to learn the ropes too. While outdoor advertising is nowhere near as complicated as building an airplane, there is still that learning curve. Different people may have different levels of knowledge and expertise in this area, but here are a few pointers to make your entry into the world of outdoor advertisements a little simpler.

Mind Your Location

Visit the location that you plan to advertise at. If you do everything over the phone, or possible all over the internet, can leave you at a disadvantage. The person that is managing the billboard may not be as honest as one would like to see, and could be in a subpar location. What is the point of advertising an Aston Martin in a neighborhood where the median income is near the poverty line! Sure, plenty may see it, but would many of those people be actual customers?

Mind Your Language

Don’t try to be too clever, it may not work. You can be as funny and as interesting as you want, but it may make you miss the mark. You could have an amazing advertising campaign that is absolutely hilarious and bringing in people, but there is a problem. The life of a billboard campaign may not last that long. They are meant to be short term. There are billboards out there that last a long time, but people may get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again.

Mind You Audience

Don’t let a billboard be your only method of advertising. For advertising to work, you need to be where the people are. If you can catch them at a time when they are attentive, receptive and maybe even seeking similar services, nothing better. However even if you don’t have all these ducks lined up, you could benefit from carefully considering where your audience hangs out, them grab their attention wherever they are.

Mind Your Research

The costs of outdoor advertising may seem high, but do diligent research to see how much it would cost for advertising in the same city using different mediums. The costs of billboards would necessarily vary from region to region, and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. If you are going to advertise in a high-profile locality, check with local newspapers, magazines, and electronic advertising providers and find out how much it will cost to have the ad run many times a day for a month. Then compare the monthly costs.

Those are the basics. If you want to learn more, you can explore some of our other modules, or click on the further reading links at the end of this document. Let us take a look at some activities to help you apply the things you have just learned.


Now that you know a little bit about outdoor advertising and the context in which it is used, here is an activity that will help you apply this knowledge to your own business. Take out a pen and paper (or your laptop for the digitally inclined).  Draw a line down the middle. In the left column write out these four words, spaced out sequentially:





In the next column, answer the questions categorically listed below.


What product or service am I advertising? 

Why is this important?

How will my intended audience benefit from my offering?

How competitive is this market?

How competitive are outdoor media spots in the area I am considering?


Where does my target audience hang out? (malls, hospitals, subway, highway etc)

Where should my outdoor display be placed ideally so as to balance cost with footfall?

Which neighbourhoods/areas are most likely to give me good results?


What voice, tone, messaging would appeal to my audience?

What kind of language would appeal to my audience? (e.g basic easy to understand, professional language etc)

What would be the result/consequences of using the above mentioned language and tone?


Who is my target audience? 

What do they ultimately want? 

How can I appeal to them without seeming too sales-y on my billboard?

Where are they likely to notice my billboard? (eye level, at a height, location)


Check Your Understanding:

  1. Can you explain why advertisers prefer digital billboards?
  2. What strategies have you identified to help you ensure the success of your outdoor advertising campaign?

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Outdoor Advertising Methods, Tactics, and Tips https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-outdoor-advertising-38452

Benefits of Outdoor Advertisements and Signs https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/benefits.pdf

20 Outdoor Advertising Ideas for Small Businesses http://www.streetadvertisingservices.com/blog/article/20-outdoor-advertising-ideas-for-small-businesses

Top 10 Reasons to Consider Outdoor Advertising


For more information, visit https://www.gainbuzz.com/outdoor-advertising

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