5 costly mistakes to avoid with outdoor advertising

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Inflation is hitting marketers hard, with broadcast and digital media costs rising 31.2% from pre-pandemic levels. This is the biggest leap in two decades, according to Warc’s August 2022 Global Advertising Trends analysis. As a result, brands are increasingly allocating a larger share of their marketing budget to outdoor advertising (OOH).

In these difficult times, this support remains remarkably profitable and offers a good return on investment, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). However, while OOH advertising appears to be fairly straightforward, strategy mistakes can be costly. Here are the top five mistakes to watch out for and how to avoid them:

Related: 9 good reasons to consider outdoor advertising

Mistake #1: Launching a test campaign in a top 5 DMA

Most major brands are based in major cities. So it makes sense that they want to start in their own backyard. However, this is a costly mistake. Large DMAs require 20 times the budget to achieve the same level of penetration as a smaller market. With test budgets, marketers often make the mistake of allocating initial budgets to high expenses, noisy markets.

For example, a OOH online shopping platform shows that an entry-level campaign in New York would represent an investment of $420,000, while similar levels of penetration in markets like New Orleans, Tulsa, or Nashville would be $15,000 to $18,000. Most brands with customers across the country would need to expand their reach and take advantage of lower cost markets to properly measure the impact of their outdoor advertising.

Mistake #2: Tracking the wrong metrics for a campaign

Most view outdoor advertising as a -Building channel, and of course there is. However, it is also then much more. When it comes to modern display, it would be a mistake to ignore other key statistics that advertisers can benefit from. These include:

  • Increased website traffic and online conversion events

  • Increased CTRs on digital advertising

  • Increase in mobile app downloads

  • Increasing Sales Using Causal Impact Analysis

When a consumer has been exposed to outdoor advertising, there are a number of positive actions they can take. For example, consumers who view a billboard from their vehicle are more likely to notice the ad, read it, and respond favorably to it. However, these metrics are often overlooked because marketers aren’t looking at the right metrics.

Related: 4 Tips for Designing Engaging Outdoor Advertising in 2022

Mistake #3: Losing inventory cheaply

One of the best features of OOH advertising is the number of formats that can be used and from where. Think outside the box (or the billboard) and cast a wide net for available inventory when plan a campaign – this includes work outside major suppliers. For example, it is mistakenly believed that a few companies own most of the outdoor advertising space. In fact, there are thousands of media owners in the United States and dozens in every market. Regional and local media owners make up about 50% of the inventory, so if you ignore their inventory, you’re really only playing with half a deck of cards. This translates to having half (or less) of the available selection to choose from! And since prices vary widely between media owners, you could lose the opportunity to grab a billboard for 60% less than a similar billboard owned by another owner.

Mistake #4: Skipping First Party Data in Planning

First-party data has a a ton of benefits for advertisers, including reliability, purchase history, website activity, email engagement, sales interactions, reviews, returns information and stock levels. Most companies have some (or all) analytics, CRM data, MMA and performance marketing data with geographic components.

Overlay of this data reveals opportunities in markets across the country. For example, where are the highest CTRs? Indexing CTRs by market can identify the placements most strongly affiliated with a product. From there, marketers can compare them to local CPMs in OOH to identify brand-specific opportunities that are getting the most out of outdoor advertising.

Related: Understand how the outdoor advertising ecosystem works

Mistake #5: Choosing between Traditional and Programmatic OOH

The vast majority of outdoor advertising placements are traditional, meaning they require physical printing and installation of creatives. Thus, only including digital locations limits the reach of a brand. On the other hand, limiting a campaign to traditional methods also excludes a bunch of potentially valuable placements.

Ideally, marketers should mix digital and traditional outdoor advertising, using programmatic OOH to energize the market during the brand’s most contextual days and times. This practice has yielded the best results as it helps to bridge the demographic digital divide and amplify campaign effectiveness.

Brands are holding advertisers more accountable than ever for their budgets and delivering results. OOH is a powerful performance channel that can help marketers boost their other formats, while reach consumers in a new and original way. Yet mistakes like these can delay results and derail an otherwise promising campaign. Keep these best practices in mind and OOH will quickly become a staple in your advertising toolbox.

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