OOH Advertising: A new normal, or just an altered one?

At the end of 2019, out-of-home (OOH) media was projected to be the only traditional advertising format (along with digital) to grow in 2020. However, due to preventative measures surrounding COVID-19 and the general shift from normal business operations, this has, unfortunately, changed. Despite the deviation in projections, it’s important for marketers to recognize the advantages that OOH advertising poses for the second half of 2020 and beyond.

What marketers and media planning personnel must understand is that the number of consumers susceptible to OOH exposure has not disappeared. People are no longer hunkered down in their homes, stocking up on bread and milk and shutting themselves out from the world. People have simply changed their normal, daily routines and orbit.

Although people are being strongly encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing, daily miles traveled has risen to 86-97% of normal, i.e., pre-COVID. There has also been double or triple-digit increases in average daily miles traveled within all of the top 100 DMA’s since the April COVID-19 low-points (per Geopath’s COVID-19 Regional and DMA Analysis dated July 6, 2020). Americans are getting out of the house at least once a day, especially with the weather getting nicer and temperatures (in most regions) hitting yearly highs. And, with remote work becoming commonplace, many people have many more free hours to spend outside or going to parks and playgrounds. It’s time they may have otherwise spent at their workplaces or in their cars commuting.

According to a 2020 consumer travel survey conducted by the Out-of-home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), recreational summer travel and vacation appear to remain part of Americans’ agendas:

  • 53% of respondents still plan to take a summer vacation this year.
  • 62% of US summer vacationers plan to travel by car.
  • 63% plan to travel the same distance or longer than they did in 2019.
  • 79% plan to travel over 100 miles or more (roundtrip).
2020 Outdoor Activity Insights
Insights above per 2020 OAAA Study

In short, people are out of their houses and still have the ability to consume OOH advertising— the ways in which they consume it and where they can consume it has simply pivoted. This is where brands can really take advantage of the power and flexibility of the various OOH media formats available to them.

OOH advertising meets the marketing funnel

2020 OOH Advertising

The traditional objective of media planning has always been to effectively deliver messaging to broad groups of people with sufficient reach and frequency of exposure. The overall goal being to eventually drive a portion of this audience to take a desired action (e.g., buying the product/service advertised). This notion is typically illustrated with the concept of the “marketing funnel,” where the top of the funnel is filled using broad-reach media like OOH or TV. Subsequently, more-targeted messages are intended to move consumers “down the funnel” toward conversion activities like visiting brick and mortar retail locations and/or the point of purchase.

Understanding consumer behaviors along this journey is key for identifying the ideally-located OOH ads that can deliver relevant messaging to help move people through this funnel and take action. Therefore, it’s critical to consider how audiences are reached at OOH locations, not just what and where OOH displays are located.

Capitalizing on consumer travel habits with dynamic, hyper-local media formats

Currently, there are many types of OOH media formats available to brands. However, very few have the ability to command audiences’ attentions and infiltrate street-level areas, parks, neighborhoods, shopping centers, parking lots and even point-of-purchase locations in the same way that mobile media such as mobile billboards, or even transit, can. Plus, inventories of static billboards are often limited or non-existent in these street-level, storefront or “close-to-home” pockets.

Moving advertisements are noticed quicker and are more memorable. According to a study by APN using brain scanning technology, an ad that moves has a 45% higher peak exposure than stationary advertisements. “Once there is a higher level of engagement with the brand, we found that this then results in a deeper level of memory encoding,” explains CEO & Founder of Hoop Group, Liz Farquharson, MD. “Memory encoding can increase recall of a brand, and drive greater brand salience.”

Additionally, mobile billboards over-index compared to almost every other OOH format. The Nielsen OOH Advertising Study, 2019 Edition, reported that mobile billboards have a high recall across many segments. Compared to all other OOH media formats, mobile billboards over-indexed to Black, Hispanic and Asian audiences and to ages 16-49. Leading ad industry research suggests that this OOH media format can reach your specific audiences.

Nielsen OOH Advertising Study, 2019
Source: Nielsen OOH Advertising Study, 2019

Mobile billboards also integrate extremely well with digital. According to NinthDecimal, pairing an out-of-home advertising campaign with a smartphone campaign can amplify the reach by up to 316%. With an integrated OOH + mobile “shadowfencing” campaign, a mobile billboard can be noticed by all the right people in the right place at the right time, and it can now also send a contextually relevant, proximity-based message directly to someone’s smartphone. Digital marketers like OOH, because media performance improves when you add OOH media formats to a digital campaign. OOH offers credibility and reinforces the digital message. That’s why an integrated campaign delivers better results. Plus, Nielsen’s study found that 66% of smartphone users took action (search or social) after seeing an OOH ad. In other words, OOH is producing more online engagement than most other ad channels.

In fact, the results have been so overwhelmingly positive for our shadowfencing campaigns, that in June 2020, do it outdoors launched a guarantee that advertisers who implement shadowfencing will see at least a 300% increase in click-through percentages against their respective industry benchmarks.

Common OOH media formats comparisons, at a glance


Roadside Billboard

Mobile billboards differ from roadside/static billboards and posters in these main ways:

  • Move-ability factor grabs attention
  • Eye-level placement is optimal for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic
  • Two sides of unit allow for double the creative
  • Inventory is available anywhere in a market and in multiple markets
  • Ability to go where other OOH is scarce
  • Units stand out whereas roadside boards often are among several in one view
  • Extremely targeted with strategic routing – doesn’t just offer broad strokes on busy highways but rather goes to where your precise audience lives, works and plays in a tailored-for-you, location-based approach


Mobile Billboard
  • Quality matchmaking takes your message to your precise audience with customized and strategic routing
  • Intersect consumers directly along path to purchase with incredible eye-level visibility that breaks through the clutter
  • Inventory is available anywhere in a market and in multiple markets
  • Ability to go where other OOH is scarce
  • Advertiser doesn’t need to share the media space with any other advertisers; both sides of unit are fully dedicated to your brand
  • Flexible flight lengths for short- or long-term campaigns



Mobile billboards differ from transit placements in these main ways:

  • Unit is dedicated to one advertiser on both sides
  • Advertiser receives large real estate for their creative without the clutter
  • Units are well-maintained, clean and only designed to drive your message
  • Inventory is available anywhere in a market and in multiple markets
  • Ability to go where other OOH is scarce
  • Extremely targeted with strategic routing – doesn’t just offer broad strokes on existing transit routes and schedules but rather goes to where your precise audience lives, works and plays in a tailored-for-you, location-based approach

A breath of fresh air for advertising in 2020

People are itching to be outside, and out-of-home can provide a literal breath of fresh air for people when it comes to how they consume advertising messages over the next several weeks or months. OOH already leads media formats in ad recall, so these “larger than life” canvases used to display messages are likely to be more appealing and memorable for someone who sees it during the (comparatively) limited time they spend outdoors.

There is a considerable value in mobile billboards for any advertiser right now, big or small. Mobile billboards can go practically anywhere, anytime to reach and engage specific audiences at scale.

We admit that we may be a bit biased, but we believe that when you look at mobile billboards stacked up against other OOH media formats, you, too, will see that the many advantages they present.

Interested in learning more? Let’s talk about your challenges and how our media formats can provide tangible solutions for your brand.