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Why It Works: The Psychology Behind Out-Of-Home Advertising

Have you ever driven down the highway and wondered why, in this modern technological age, companies and businesses are still putting up endless digital and print billboards, and foregoing digital billboards in favor of traditional static outdoor advertising? Sure, the relatively low cost first comes to mind, and it is true that digital can be cost-prohibitive: digital billboards can run a business anywhere between $3,000-$10,000 depending on location, compared to anywhere from $250-$4,000 to launch a classic billboard campaign. For multiple campaigns containing multiple ads, that’s a huge cost savings. 

However, with so many McDonald’s or Coca-Cola billboards that stretch across the country and are still displayed on traditional billboards, it’s clear that the initial cost of an ad campaign is not the only reason companies utilize Out of Home (OOH) advertising. 

While driving, you may have also pondered that in addition to cost, Outdoor Advertising itself may become obsolete. With digital marketing campaigns and pop-up ads so commonplace, perhaps you’ve wondered why, like many print publications, this type of advertising has not gone by the wayside and instead persists on roadsides, in buses and trains, and even on the backs and sides of semi-trucks. . Well, the answer to these questions is actually deeply-rooted in the way people process visual information. The fact is, whether digital or print, mobile or static, advertising mainly works due to the way we human beings are wired. Therefore, it should be no surprise that understanding the psychology behind mobile outdoor advertising is driving its success, and why the industry continues to see increases in annual revenue, having grown from $5.9 billion USD in 2009 to $8 billion in 2018. 

OOH Advertisements are Unstoppable 

Unlike a pop-up ad or spam email, Outdoor advertisements cannot be deleted or closed out. Whether you’re stuck in traffic and staring at billboards, or paused at a crosswalk while a mobile truck advertisement waits for the light to change, outdoor marketing penetrates the ad-blockers and recording devices consumers use today by seamlessly integrating a company’s brand and message into routine daily life. Additionally, outdoor advertising affords the freedom and versatility to create a campaign in a physical 3-D space, potentially allowing for some direct interaction with consumers, like this ad from IBM.

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Out of Home Truck Ads Extend Your Reach 

From concerts and professional sports games to local community events, the 1,200 mobile truck ads operating in the U.S. in 2017 were able to visit them all. With a 14% increase in effectiveness when paired with print outdoor advertising and a 40% increase when paired with digital media, the successful results of truck ads speak for themselves. 

Additionally, brand awareness increases significantly when truck ads are used. Psychological research has determined people experience a familiarity principle, wherein they react better to familiar objects, concepts, and other things than unfamiliar ones. By directly targeting events and locations with higher density, the same effect can be achieved with your brand’s mobile outdoor advertising. Even if the audience is unfamiliar with your brand or product, the familiarity of recalling having seen your logo or slogan can be a deciding factor for consumers making a purchasing decision, and they may be more likely to choose your product over a competitor. 

Mobile Billboard Marketing Can Appeal to The Unconscious…

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 98% of Americans indicated they notice media targeting vehicle drivers and passengers, including mobile truck ads, and billboards. However, it would seem that the remaining 2% may be mistaken, at least on an unconscious level. Due to the constant inundation of information perceived through our senses, our brain has to sort out what seems the most relevant. This explains the slight delay between stubbing your toe and screaming an expletive: the pain signals need to travel from your foot to your brain, which filters them from other incoming signals before determining the appropriate reaction. For outdoor advertising, this means that merely glancing at a billboard or truck ad may be enough to trigger the familiarity principle in consumers later on. For example, when asked, more than 75% of audiences who saw an OOH ad in conjunction with other ad types recalled the brand a full 7 days later

… Or the Emotional

Separate research conducted on the subject by Harvard Business School Professor Gerald Zaltman reinforces the finding that “95% of our purchase decisions are made unconsciously, and only then they are justified through logic.” Therefore, in addition to reacting to unconscious stimuli, consumers are also responding to appeals “to intuition and basic feelings” as “the consumers’ subconscious sphere and stimulate buying.” 

But what, exactly, does this mean for your business? Outdoor ads like this one directly appeal to primal human emotions, and are incredibly effective in elucidating the desired response from consumers. 

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Regardless of your personal feelings on the ethical treatment of animals, by humanizing and anthropomorphizing the crab, this ad aims to elicit sympathy from consumers, with the implication that they may choose to modify their purchasing habits. However, by inciting an emotional response of any type, even negative, outdoor advertisements can still be effective in conveying the message and therefore, in their own way, successful. Controversy sells. 

In Conclusion: OOH is 328% More Effective 

Yes, you read that right. Research has shown that Out of Home advertising is a whopping 382% more effective at driving online activity when compared to television advertisements, and for an online-based business, this traffic could mean a huge surge in profits. While it may seem counterintuitive to incorporate mobile outdoor advertisements into an e-commerce business’s marketing plan, consider the 25% of people have been able to interact with an outdoor advertisement with their smartphone and the opportunities afforded by out of home advertising are seemingly boundless. Bright colors, lights, sounds, cut-outs, pop-ups, and moving displays are only a small fraction of what can be achieved with an outdoor advertising campaign, but in the United States, different states have a variety of laws in place to keep advertisements like billboards and truck ads from being too distracting and causing a potentially dangerous condition for drivers. If you’re interested in learning more about designing your own out of home advertising campaign and are located in the Midwest, these two posts are excellent resources for getting started. 

Ready to improve your advertising ROI and increase your brand’s recognition power? Contact Commoot to get started! 

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