How to advertise your business outdoors

Outdoor advertising may seem like an unlikely choice for many SMEs, but don't discount the channel just yet because outdoor ads can deliver. Industry experts estimate that about 87 per cent of adults in the UK see an outside advertisement every week and nearly £1bn is spent on outside ads every year. What's more the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claims the public has a positive attitude towards outdoor advertising seeing it as colourful and informative.  This guide will help you decide if outdoor advertising is for you and give you an idea of how to get our ad out there and the potential costs.

  1. Pros and cons of outdoor advertising
  2. How to get started
  3. How to get value for money

1) Pros and cons of outdoor adverts

On the plus side, outdoor advertising can be an effective way to target the difficult to reach young male audience. Everybody who leaves the house is exposed to outdoor advertising - your customers don't have to buy a magazine or watch a TV programme, it's just there and it's seen as non-intrusive. The audience is often bored with and looking for something to read so you've got a good chance of getting your message across.  But cons include the fact that outdoor ads can be an untargeted form of advertising - you don't know who's going to see your campaign. It's important to use the copy and design of your ad to send out a clear message to your target audience. Outdoor ads can be expensive and your budget needs to cover not only buying the space but also the creation and printing of the advert.

  • Outdoor is good for reaching a young male audience
  • Everybody who leaves the house is exposed to it, at no cost to them
  • But it risks being untargeted and can be expensive
  • Outdoor ads need to be clear through their copy and design

2) How do I get started?

The outdoor ad market is confusing - there are more than 40 types of outdoor ad. You can buy outdoor media direct but the most common route is to use the services of a poster buying specialist or broker. Because these brokers buy lots of space, they get the best deals and can pass these savings on to you.  The costs of the ads will vary considerably based on the size and position of your campaign. At the top end, a 750 panel, two-week large roadside campaign will cost you around £750,000. Alternatively, if you fancy having a taxi cab emblazoned with your company logo prices start at under a grand, depending on the number of cabs involved and the length of the campaign.  There are lots of smaller and much less expensive outdoor sites available including phone kiosks, railway stations,  supermarket trolleys... the list goes on.  On  a local level, you can even place cards in shop windows. At the very least you should put a sign outside your business premises advertising your services.

  • Work with an agency to help you book the space and come up with the creative
  • Don't forget to factor in the costs of creating and printing the campaign
  • If your budget is tight, explore small scale local campaigns

3) Getting value for money

The Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA) can provide audience estimates for roadside campaigns, bus, rail, airport and taxi ads. For local campaigns measurement is trickier so it's important that you choose your locations carefully. For example if you're selling a health drink, it makes sense to place outdoor ads outside gyms and swimming pools where the healthy folk (your target customers) hang out. And if you're buying a moving advert (eg on a bus or train) make sure you first research the routes your campaign is going to travel.

  • The OAA are a good resource for large-scale campaigns
  • For local campaigns, pick your ads' positions accordingto where your target customer will see them

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