History of Outdoor Advertising
Driving along any highway in any state, it's hard to ignore the hundreds of billboards and signs that dot the scenery along the way. Outdoor advertising is one of the oldest forms of marketing, and it literally can be traced back to the Egyptians, who used stone and chisels to get a message out along their roads.
During the 1500s, after the invention of printing presses and paper, the Europeans used billposting as a form of advertising. Lithography was introduced sometime during the 19th century, which made billboard advertising more advanced and creative. Merchants would post signs on boards and established the formal "billboard" terminology. The industry trade organization OAAA has documents that trace the outdoor advertising industry back 100 years or more because this form of advertising is part of the 20th century marketing phenomenon.
Types of Outdoor Advertising
Companies that use billboard advertising are hoping to enhance their image, encourage traffic to stop by their location(s), and discourage traffic from competition by placing a billboard near competitor's store.
Outdoor advertising today has gone beyond the scope of simple billboards to include car cards on or in public transportation vehicles, displays in stores and airports, park benches and in almost any public place that draws a crowd. Because billboard technology has come a long way and makes a powerful statement and gets a message across for a low cost, it continues to be a popular and growing advertising channel.
Sucessful Outdoor Advertising
Successful outdoor advertising begins at a company's front door. The signage placed on a business is the first thing a customer or client sees before they walk in the door. Making a good first impression is part of branding, because if the sign on the outside of the building is unique and appealing, it will be remembered.
If the business you own requires vehicles for deliveries or transportation, it is imparative that the name of the company, the company logo and phone number are clearly displayed on each vehicle. This little bit of outdoor advertising can be tremendous market exposure.
Interstate and heavily travelled roadway billboards are most effective when they are close to a company's location and when they clearly spell out directions to the company. This form of outdoor advertising is by far the most expensive, but considering the amount of exposure a company receives in return, many larger businesses feel it's well worth the cost. With that in mind, it's important to note that there are many cities and towns that have restrictions on where billboards can be located, and some states prohibit them entirely.
Like billboards, bench advertising is very visible and can be seen by large numbers of people. Bench advertising can be found at bus stops, train stations, parks, major intersections, etc., and have a captive audience because the locations are often places where people are waiting for something or other. For example, if an advertisement is located on a bus bench near a major intersection in a city like New York, it's guaranteed that thousands of people will see it every single day.
Generally, the design of bench advertising is quite simple using basic two color art containing a logo, company name and a few words about the company product, as well as a phone number and address.
Bus and taxicab advertising is called transit, and it too reaches thousands of commuters on a daily basis.