Advertising 101 – Pt 1, Outdoor

When marketers are creating their media plans for the year, often outdoor falls to the wayside and I believe that it’s because there are a few common misconceptions. Outdoor can be a great support to your total media mix. Here are a couple short pointers to keep in mind in order to make your outdoor campaign successful.

1 – “Outdoor doesn’t work”. This statement could be true if you’re not buying and executing your campaign the right way.  There are three easy tips to an effective outdoor campaign:

  1. Outdoor advertising is bought in 4 week flights. It is recommended that you buy longer than 4 weeks to get the frequency that you need really drive home your message.
  2. There is strength in numbers. One billboard is not going to have an effect on the target audience you are trying to reach. For a good campaign, you should buy in a showing, equivalent to GRP (gross rating points) levels, to ensure that you are reaching the largest amount of your target audience.
  3. Outdoor is different than print and radio. A person has only a few seconds to look at a billboard, so good eye catching artwork is key as well as a poignant message. If you try to cram too much information on a billboard, you message will get lost. You don’t want to discourage your audience to read it, you want to encourage it. Rule of Thumb: your main message should be about six words or less.

2- “It costs too much”. To that I say, ‘compared to what?’ Let’s do a simple math equation. Say you take a billboard on I-95 for $10,000 for one month.  Immediately that does sound like a lot of money. Compare that to the equivalent in cost to one ad in the Baltimore Sun that runs in their highest circulation day, Sunday.  Let’s see how the numbers compare:

Advertising Type

Outdoor – 1 Billboard

Print – 1 Ad


14’ x 48’ color

Half Page black and white

Time frame

4 weeks

One day


Average – 2,300,000

Circulation – 500,000

CPM (cost/thousand)




When you look at the breakdown, it is more cost effective to purchase a billboard than a print ad. However, this isn’t to discredit print, because I am a firm believer that advertising in multiple outlets makes for a successful campaign.

Stay tuned for tips on Print, Radio and TV buying!

A few good billboard campaigns…in my opinion:

2 responses to “Advertising 101 – Pt 1, Outdoor”

  1. Jay Schmidt says:

    Nice post Laura. You really nail the key points when it comes to outdoor. How much out-of-home media buying do you handle for your clients? If you ever need a specialist or additional resource in the field, I’d be more than happy to help out. I’ve bought just about every form of OOH media imaginable over the years. Let me know if you are ever in need of a proposal.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for following!