Outside the Box with Outdoor Advertising

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Outdoor advertising, also known as out-of-home advertising, is any form of advertising that primarily reaches the audience while they are outside of the home, and often relies on the fact that the audience is in transit to another place. Almost every demographic (gender, age, marital status, education, income level, etc) leaves the house at least once per day, and outdoor advertising relies on this regularity to bring their message to the right demographic at the right point in time. As reported by Arbitron in their 2013 Out-of-Home Advertising Study, the average time spent in transit is over 20 hours per week – that’s almost three hours per day that people are reachable by various forms of outdoor advertising.

Just how effective is outdoor advertising? We’ll let the statistics speak for themselves (all below statistics are from the Arbitron 2009 National In-Car Study):

Building Signage

Although building signage is not the first thing that may come to your mind when we talk about outdoor advertising, it is one of the most influential and important types of outdoor marketing available to your business. Building signage is what gives your location, presence, and placement to someone as they are driving by or as they are trying to find you. Your signage should be big, bright and clear to street viewers, day or night, coming from either direction. Other building signage to consider are parking signs, entrance or exit signs, your office hours on the door, or any special directional placards noting how to reach your main entrance.

Three Heads Brewing building signage completed in March 2016.
Three Heads Brewing building signage completed in March 2016.

Corporate Vehicles

Corporate vehicles can be large mobile advertisements used to keep your business top of mind. The best types of vehicles to advertise on are vans or work trucks, but any vehicle with space on the doors or back windshield can work. When designing for a vehicle wrap or vinyl, it’s important to remember that your vehicle will most often be viewed while moving, so keep your messaging and contact information large, clear and uncomplicated. Other drivers won’t have much time to make heads or tails of your graphics, so make it as easy to read as possible.

Great Northern Heating & Air vehicle vinyl mockups.


Billboards are the most classic, and most historic, form of outdoor advertising available. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, the first billboards were large format circus posters used in 1835 (followed soon after in 1850 by posting advertisements on street railways). Billboards in a given area are typically owned by one company and are then rented on short term contracts, about two to three months at a time. The cost of a contract varies widely depending on the quantity of billboards, rental length, and the location of the billboards themselves. A good rule of thumb is to estimate about $1,500 per month per billboard in a medium-sized marketplace. Due to their higher cost, billboards should be used as one part of a larger marketing campaign in order to see the most return.

A billboard for Glacier Park International Airport, in Kalispell, MT.
A billboard for Glacier Park International Airport, in Kalispell, MT.

Other Examples

There are a wide variety of additional types of outdoor advertising, which can vary depending on your location. Other examples include:

Outdoor Advertising Considerations

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when you are incorporating outdoor advertising in to your marketing plan, from a logistics, design, and regulations standpoint.




Outdoor advertising of any type can be difficult to plan and execute properly, whether that’s due to the cost, the size, the contract commitments, the design or the regulations. However, it can be an extremely effective type of marketing when used as one part of your overall marketing plan. If you’re considering how outdoor advertising could perform for your business, reach out to us. Our previous outdoor advertising experience can help you get the most out of your efforts!

Photo courtesy of flickr user Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York