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The Unlikely Combination of Outdoor Media and Digital Ads

On the surface, digital and outdoor media don’t have much in common. Digital ads are a modern invention of our technology-infused era; outdoor ads are ancient by comparison. The digital experience is one to one; the experience of out-of-home ads is one to many. Digital ads seek out their target audiences; people have to come across OOH ads on their own. You get the idea.

If you’ve ever tried dipping french fries into your milkshake, eating pineapple on your hotdogs or [insert your own strange snack cravings], then you know that sometimes opposites can actually complement each other. In the case of digital and outdoor media, the broad reach of outdoor media, when applied well, encourages initial brand awareness and drives your audience into the sales funnel where digital ads play a vital role in keeping them there.

The ways these two distinct media flavors work together are more complex than you might think. So, go make your peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich, and then kick back to learn about the amazing combination of digital and outdoor media.

OOH Ads Drive Search Activity

Offline media such as TV, radio or print is a great way to expose consumers to your brand and build awareness, but it’s outdoor media that has the potential to make the biggest splash. According to a Nielsen report from 2017, OOH delivers more online activity per ad dollar spent than radio, TV or print. Online activations include search, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram activity.

The report goes on to share that 46% of US adults have used Google, Bing, Yahoo or another search engine to look up information after seeing or hearing something advertised on a billboard, transit ad, or other OOH format in the previous six months. This statistic emphasizes just how important outdoor media is for the success of digital media. Without real world interactions, your online activity simply won’t feel as relevant to consumers. That’s why even though companies like Amazon, Facebook and Twitter may have a strong presence online, they still invest in OOH ads.

OOH Audiences Love Their Smartphones

These days, most people have an entire computer right in their back pocket. By 2025, the World Advertising Research Center (WARC) predicts that 75% of the world will solely use smartphones for their internet needs. This means the distance between someone viewing an outdoor ad and taking some kind of online action as a result will continue to shorten. 66% of smartphone users already take some sort of action online after seeing an OOH ad, according to a separate Nielsen study from 2019.

By unifying OOH and mobile media strategies, you’ll be able to drive relevancy, reinforce messaging and campaign activities, extend your reach to new audiences and provide targeted frequency.

Mobile Data Offers Better Insights for Outdoor Media

One of the biggest challenges outdoor advertising faces is obtaining useful data. It can be tough to determine how many impressions an OOH ad garnered, how many of those impressions led to further action, or how much of your audience you even reached. Digital ads don’t have the same issues. You’ll typically know when digital ads are served, on which sites they were served, how many users clicked on the ad, and whether they ultimately converted.

With the help of technology, mobile data can team up with OOH to deliver better tracking and insights, merging the real and virtual worlds. By employing geofencing and geotargeting tools around an outdoor ad such as a billboard, you can measure precise audience targeting capabilities for OOH campaigns - collecting data such as audience impressions, demographics, even the speed at which someone drives by, also known as dwell. With this data, you have the ability to amplify initial billboard impressions by creating a narrow audience of potential consumers for a digital retargeting campaign.

Digital Programmatic is Helping OOH

Instead of physical RFPs, did you know that you can buy OOH audiences via programmatic platforms? For ads delivered on digital billboards and signage, computers can automate the sale and delivery of ads in much the same way you see with most online advertising. Advertisers set conditions under which they want to buy media, and ads are bought automatically if those conditions are met. This means that you can finally buy OOH with many of the perks of digital media: better audience measurement, quicker transactions, less labor intensive and less error.

Programmatic digital outdoor media may act like a digital ad during acquisition, but it still performs like an OOH ad, reaching a wide audience and delivering visually stunning displays. The difference programmatic makes is in terms of speed and efficiency. You can serve much more relevant messaging, deliver it much quicker and do so without having to make repeated direct buys. Advertise food delivery when it’s raining, or four dollar margaritas during Happy Hour, all without any additional input once you’ve planned and implemented your OOH campaign.

The Outdoor Media Stewards

Digital and outdoor media may exist in different worlds, but when you put them together, something magical happens; they enhance each other. OOH ads spur further online action, and the technology and practices championed by digital media help OOH media improve acquisition and data collection. They’re truly a match made in heaven, just like pasta on sandwiches or banana on pizza.

Our media stewards have been seeing an OOH renaissance in recent years, and we believe there’s no better time to invest in outdoor media than now. The Ward Group considers many things when evaluating the best available options for your creative message. We go to great lengths to understand how the consumer will see and interact with your ad, and we will even offer guidance on the creative execution for your ad - whether it be a digital billboard or a bus wrap.

The emergence of new technologies is also changing the game for OOH, a trend we’ve been watching for some time. So, if you’re ready to see how digital and outdoor media work together for yourself, contact us today. We’ll make sure you get the most out of your media buys.

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