Canadian Pizza Magazine

Marketing Insights: The great outdoors

Michelle Brisebois   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

The great outdoors

We all want to get our message out to try and intercept
customers as they go about their daily business. Chances are that
you’ve been approached by media groups selling everything from
billboards to bus wraps, and it is tempting to give it a try.

We all want to get our message out to try and intercept customers as they go about their daily business. Chances are that you’ve been approached by media groups selling everything from billboards to bus wraps, and it is tempting to give it a try.

Outdoor advertising is appealing because it can reach a wider audience than some print media, which may target a very specific audience. Outdoor advertising may also allow for more impactful and creative messaging.

However, buyers beware – it can also be expensive and difficult to measure in terms of its return on investment. When it comes to outdoor media, how do we make sure we don’t get left out in the cold?
Marketers love them – environmentalists hate them. They are often considered visual pollution and more townships are clamping down on their prevalence. If you’re considering placement of a billboard message, think about how distracted the consumer will be at the time they’re viewing your message.


The exposure to a billboard message varies depending on the speed at which the viewer is travelling. This window can be as short as four or five seconds. The message must then be easy to read with a simple headline and call to action.

Billboards at intersections with stoplights will provide drivers with extra viewing time to digest your message; however, if it’s a busy city intersection where drivers are distracted by congested traffic – you may want to consider another location.

The cost to produce a large poster to go up on a billboard can be very expensive and you will be renting the space for probably a month or two.

If general awareness of your business is your goal then several billboards to layer on the messaging will do the best job. If you are intercepting a parade of traffic and want a call to action that tells the consumer to “turn right at the light for great pizza” then one board may do the trick.

If the media company hasn’t sold the board space to another company after your time is up – your message may stay up and get a bit more exposure. This can be a positive thing until the poster starts looking torn and tattered. A shoddy piece of advertising can have a negative impact on your brand image so keep on the media company to take it down if this happens.

Always obtain traffic counts to understand how many pairs of eyes will be travelling past your billboard daily.
Bus Shelters
Many advertisers will place large posters in bus shelters. This placement is worth careful consideration. Chances are many motorists won’t be close enough to read the message so you will be speaking to foot traffic either walking by or standing in the shelter waiting for the bus.

Generally speaking – those taking public transit outside of larger cities will have less disposable income than other consumer segments. If you’re advertising investments and luxury consumer goods, it’s probably not the best venue. If your business targets college and university students it could be a very wise spend indeed. Think about the routes you’re placing your ads on to understand the potential traffic and audience.
Vehicle Wraps
Advertising on a vehicle can vary from a simple bumper sticker or bus poster to a full wrap in vivid colours. If you’re looking at transit media then a smaller poster may do the trick.

Messaging on the back end of a bus will be viewed by those driving (especially whilst sitting at traffic lights), while consumers standing at the side of the road will more easily see advertising on the side of a bus. The decision again will come down to which target you’re aiming for. Those in cars or those on foot.

A bus ad will run for a specified length of time while decorating your own vehicles gives you all the time you want. A larger brand message that supports your true point of difference is best. This would be a good place to promote a signature item – one that’s unique to your business. A short and easy to remember vanity phone number or website address will provide a call to action that people can remember since they won’t have it in front of them anymore when it’s time to take that action.

As with any outdoor media, think about how your message will look in the middle of winter with three layers of slush splattered all over it. It may be a better initiative for the May to October months.

Street Side Signs
These big signs are also favourite targets for those who don’t like a cluttered landscape. They can be effective for short periods of time to promote a compelling offer. After about two weeks, the effectiveness will weaken so do consider giving this form of advertising a break between offers.

If the sign comes and goes with different messages then it’s more likely to be noticed. Also, make sure the security on the sign doesn’t allow for vandals to do some creative copy writing on your behalf. The results could be embarrassing.

Do consider some outdoor advertising as part of your media mix. It can be very effective and measurable
if you promote a unique offer that can be directly attributed to the ad. With a little planning and creativity your communications strategy can definitely benefit from a walk around the block.•

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