The ad agency who designed this branding ad shows how to do it right.

Outdoor advertising can be an effective method to promote your business, products or services. Because of the seemingly endless advertising offerings, the media landscape can be highly fragmented. Such offerings include print (display ads and direct marketing), T.V., radio, on-line, outdoor (both static and digital), mobile, etc. While some of these advertising vehicles can provide a really targeted audience it can also make it difficult to reach a much broader audience.

Yikes!

Yikes!

Outdoor advertising has often been viewed as a cost-effective way to reach a lot of people and boasts very good CPM (cost per thousand). Nonetheless, many outdoor advertising companies that have a critical mass of outdoor ad faces in urban and suburban environments can provide both broad-based and targeted ad plans. GIS (or geographical information systems) are often employed by these companies to provide an advertiser who has a specific desire to reach a skewed audience of either consumers or business decision makers. If you are after high-volume, many of these same companies provide extensive coverage throughout major arterial routes and public transit systems allowing you to reach hundreds-of-thousands and even millions of commuters every single day.

What? Who? Where? When?

What? Who? Where? When?

Either way, your creative will become the key element in ensuring your outdoor ad is effective and provides good recall (the ability of a consumer to recall your ad/message long after exposure). "Less is more" may be one of the paramount principles to follow when designing an outdoor ad. Remember, an outdoor audience is almost always moving and invariably distracted. Whether in a car, train, bus, taxi, or on foot, virtually everyone is trying to be somewhere else when they are typically exposed to outdoor messaging or branding. Thus you literally have only a few seconds to grab their attention!

Therefore, it would seem logical to use highly visual designs that utilize bold, high-contrasting colours and very succinct messaging if text is to be an element within the ad. Yet despite this obvious philosophy, many outdoor advertisers fall short. Text is often too small and illegible or the message is too long and can't be read in the time it takes a commuter to pass by. While repetition of an ad (the same ad appearing in multiple locations or viewed by the same person on different days) can help, it is always better to make sure the message is 'short-and-sweet'!

QR Madness.

QR Madness.

The biggest mistake designers and advertisers make is during the repurposing of an ad to adapt to an outdoor setting. In other words, if your ad was originally conceived to be in a magazine, by way of example, it does not mean that exact same ad in its current layout and format will necessarily work in a transit shelter or on a billboard. Employing text that is too small and/or is forced to occupy too little real estate can undermine the overall intent and purpose.

Many outdoor ad companies will offer services right on their websites for distance testing. This is designed to make sure your message is legible from the greatest distance possible thus maximizing the read time before the outdoor ad is no longer in view. It is highly recommended you use this service if offered. Failing that, you can even print an ad on legal or tabloid size paper and tape it to the wall some distance away from your desk or office. Can you read it? Are the visuals simple and clear? Is the message focused?

All of that said, here are some basic principles to follow:

  • focus your message (i.e. one idea)
  • if the ad is a simple branding exercise, be clear, strong and do not dilute by using too many other visual elements
  • engage, use humour or interesting visuals
  • use legible typefaces
  • use upper and lowercase text - all CAPS or all lowercase is least effective
  • distance test your creative
  • use bold and high contrasting colours

We have extensive experience in outdoor advertising both static and digital. Feel free to Contact Us to help design your outdoor ad for you. Or, simply call 416-910-6122.

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