Our clients sometimes ask if an outdoor billboard is still an important advertising tool. The answer is ‘yes’ as long as you understand its most effective use, and its limitations.
Outdoor (or Out-of-Home in its broader definition) has been proven extremely beneficial in simple name or message awareness, time and again. From a cost-effective standpoint, it’s tough to beat for that purpose. But therein lies the limitation. Outdoor typically requires a very short and easy to remember message. And it typically requires a certain amount of long-term repetition and consistency to be most effective. It’s not a one-week fix. If you can play with those rules, it’s an outstanding option.
There are a few basic elements that play a role in the effectiveness of both print and digital outdoor billboards.
- Limit the number of colors and fonts. An overload of colors and fonts will distract from, rather than enhance, your message.
- Keep the message to seven words or less. Your ad is being read at 25-55+ miles an hour. You have about seven seconds for someone to read your message. A longer message can’t be read. Limiting the number of words will help keep the focus on your key message.
- Make the type easy to read. In order for your message to be readable from a moving vehicle at 250+ feet, the type should be a simple font, a minimum of 15 inches tall. The bigger the better.
We successfully applied these principles in a series of outdoor boards for Surgery Center Cedar Rapids (SCCR). The client came to us after learning through a survey that they had very little awareness among the public inside and outside of Cedar Rapids as well as surgery schedulers for metro physicians clinics. We launched an advertising campaign on behalf of our client with the primary goal of awareness. Our campaign included an aggressive outdoor effort and a secondary television effort.
A follow-up research study showed that awareness of SCCR doubled in Cedar Rapids and was eight times greater in outlying areas. The number of surgical cases rose 39 percent from the year before the campaign to the year after the campaign.
Are outdoor boards still effective? Definitely.