What OOH Ad Format Is Best For Your Messaging Or Industry?

Gino Sesto is the founder of STRIP TWO, a Los Angeles media buying agency specializing in outdoor advertising and digital advertising.

One of the best things about outdoor advertising (OOH) is that it offers so many format options. However, this can also be one of the things potential advertisers find most intimidating about it. How do you figure out what type of ad is best for your message or industry?

While there’s no simple formula or finger-snapping to give you the answer, my media buying agency, DASH TWO, has been doing this for a while, and our team has developed some guides that can help you find the best way to get your message across.

In this article, I share some of our tips to help you choose the OOH format for your message or industry, whether it’s landing on billboards, wild posts, bus benches, or guerrilla advertising.

Choosing the right OOH format

In order to find the right type of advertising, six different factors must be considered.

Pricing: The format should fit your budget. Working with an agency that constantly buys from suppliers and has established relationships can help you get the best prices. Some formats require a larger investment, but most are cheaper than other traditional media.

lead time: Do you have four days, four weeks or four months to promote your product or event? The answer will help determine the best format. You can sometimes find great deals with a quick turnaround, but you may also have to pay a premium to get something fast.

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Duration: If you want to highlight a sale that occurs over a holiday weekend, you have a limited time frame for your ad and may only need a week or two run. But if you’re promoting a new location or product, your ad could stay up for months to build awareness, and you can choose a format with long-term potential.

Location: As with real estate, location is everything when it comes to OOH. You want to connect with the right demographic to sell your product. For example, if your product targets women between the ages of 18 and 24, a better location for your ad would be near a Lululemon or Sephora than near an elementary school.

Target demographic: Are the people you want to reach more likely to drive, take the subway, or walk to work? The answer goes a long way in identifying the correct format. Investing in transit ads doesn’t make sense if you’re targeting suburban parents who commute everywhere.

Goals: Most advertising campaigns either focus on branding or calls to action. Different formats are more effective in delivering these messages. For example, if you have a QR code that people can scan to get a free bottle of perfume at your newest store, wild posting might be a better medium for delivery than public transit advertising.

Effective OOH formats by industry

Consider your goals for each of these six factors. This will determine which format you should choose. I used the formula to find the ideal OOH mix for some of the most popular industries in Los Angeles, where we are based.

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The fashion industry is all about visuals. Images don’t just sell the clothes, they sell the sophisticated aspect of the fashion, and that’s why you want a medium that offers a platform to show off stunning colors and daring ensembles.

Best format: Wild post.

Why: Fashion speaks to everyone. Eye-level posters draw attention to the amazing ensembles, giving them a runway-like effect when lining a brick wall or construction barricade. Also, you reach a wide audience on the street, and people interested in fashion make up a broad demographic.

Music: Albums

Music is a huge category for OOH advertising as it can reach a large number of people. For albums, the type of music also plays a role in targeting (i.e. countries should be targeted differently than hip-hop).

Best formats: Wild postings and billboards.

Why: To reach the mass of people it takes to make an album a hit, maximizing reach and frequency works best. Wild posting can amplify messages people first see on billboards, giving each medium a chance to make the other stand out. You can use similar creatives for both to brand the band or artist, which helps with recall. People love to take photos with these ads and share them on social media to give your ad a second life online.

Music: concerts

Concerts may target the same demographics as album lovers, but the message will be different as it promotes a one-off event versus a product. A format that can provide live updates and current information is best suited for concerts.

Best format: Digital billboards.

Why: Digital billboards provide an easy way to update concert dates as well as sales information – for example, if a concert is sold out, you can simply remove it from the ad.

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You can’t walk 10 feet in LA without seeing a movie ad. Studios emerging from the Covid-induced box office slump are keen to win back film fans and drive them to theatres. Spending has increased over the past year and is expected to reach $839 million in North America next year as the industry rebuilds.

Best format: billboards.

Why: The creative possibilities offered by billboards continue to attract big bucks in advertising. And studios want the prestige and recognition that comes with spots on Sunset Boulevard and elsewhere that create branding buzz and promote films. In addition, studios can afford the often high prices for billboards.

Legal Matters

Lawyers don’t sell a glamorous service, but theirs is a necessary one. Just about everyone will need legal advice at some point, so a medium with a relatively low price point that reaches people of all demographics, including those on lower incomes, makes the most sense.

Best formats: Bus benches and transit displays.

Why: Seen across the city, transit and bus bank ads reach many people, including commuters, and you can target them by demographic or geographic region depending on their specialty or audience.

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