Debunking 5 OOH Advertising Myths

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During the last few years, digital marketing has become harder. Screen fatigue, distrust around privacy and misinformation, and rising advertising costs have forced marketers to spend more money to achieve the results they saw previously. Many brands and agencies are considering giving out-of-home (OOH) advertising more prominence in their media mixes, but myths and misconceptions still muddy the OOH waters. 

A 2022 report based on a survey of more than 100 advertisers in the U.S. highlighted the top five misconceptions facing advertisers considering OOH. Fortunately, each of these myths is ripe for rebutting with statistics that support the facts.  

Misconception #1: OOH is a Time Trap

More than 80% of the marketers surveyed believed OOH is a hands-on, time-consuming process that would take several weeks to launch, require them to work with multiple vendors, and manage the campaign personally. 

This used to be true. In the old days, marketers could spend weeks researching the best outdoor advertising placements, getting creative developed, and having ads erected on their chosen billboards. 

They also believed they needed an in-depth understanding of media buying, along with access to research that could help them choose the right location and format for delivering their message. 

Facing the facts:

In 2022, however, OOH advertising is a whole new ballgame. Campaigns can often be launched in just one or two days. Digital tools provide accurate planning, faster execution, and greater flexibility. The new methods present an unrivaled opportunity to put new processes in place and optimize the use of this medium.  

Building best practices:

By using an online OOH buying platform, marketers can make the most of their resources and cut their campaign planning time in half. Moreover, programmatic advertising enables anyone to run an agile, effective campaign, even with minimal knowledge of the ad industry.

Misconception #2: OOH is a Budget Burden

For many years, marketers believed outdoor advertising was hugely expensive and that the industry was fraught with shady media owners who were out to rip them off. This wasn’t altogether untrue, either. 

Historically, the OOH marketplace was plagued by price transparency challenges, and the survey report shows more than two-thirds of respondents believe this is still the case. The general perception is that OOH remains a high-priced exercise that only delivers ROI after shelling out massive expenditures.  

Facing the facts:

Statistics from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) show outdoor advertising delivers approximately $2.80 in ROI for every $1 spent, compared with only $2.41 for print and $2.43 for TV advertising. Considering the challenging advertising environment marketers face today, these numbers represent remarkable value and make OOH one of the most cost-effective marketing methods available. 

What’s more, while OOH accounted for just 4.1% of total ad spend in 2021, it still generates a similar or greater share of online activations than TV, radio, video, banner, and print ads. 

Building best practices:

Marketers can optimize their ad budgets by broadening their buys to include mid-sized and lookalike markets and moving beyond billboards to formats with higher value and lower costs. They can also RFP multiple vendors simultaneously to trigger competitive pricing, and use an online buying platform to discover historical pricing. 

Misconception #3: OOH Gobbles Up Resources

It’s not just time and money that get eaten up by OOH, or so the thinking goes. The majority of survey respondents believe the medium requires substantial marketing resources. Since 61% expect to see resources reduced in the event of a recession, sustaining outdoor advertising during difficult financial times could become impossible. 

Facing the facts:

The evolution of online buying platforms and programmatic placements has taken much of the pain out of managing OOH advertising. Campaigns are now driven by data-fueled technology, enabling smaller, tighter teams to run high-performing campaigns across multiple marketplaces. 

Building best practices:

Using the right tools, advertisers can now build best practices by connecting instantly with media vendors across the nation, viewing available inventory in real time, and automating RFPs to get decisions faster. All these tactics help to minimize the need for marketing resources.  

Misconception #4: OOH Eludes Targeting

The deployment of data has done wonders for advertising targetability, but marketers remain unconvinced that outdoor advertising can be targeted as effectively as other formats. The survey showed two-thirds of respondents still think it’s harder to reach their target audiences with OOH than with other advertising methods, and 25% underestimate OOH’s advanced targeting capabilities. 

Facing the facts:

Technological advancements and access to robust audience data enable OOH advertisers to plan and execute targeted, high-performing campaigns more easily than ever before. While 83% of respondents view demographic and interest-based targeting as OOH’s most effective methods, the medium has other, equally comprehensive targeting capabilities.

Building best practices:

Marketers can now leverage data to determine when, where, and how to reach their audiences. By going beyond demographic data, they can zero in on key audience groups and launch hyper-targeted campaigns in minutes. Using sophisticated filtering to identify audience behavior, buying habits, and movement patterns enable them to increase campaign effectiveness.

Misconception #5: OOH Evades Measurability

If digital marketing has one defining factor, it’s the ability to measure results. With OOH, however, the perception persists that it’s hard to measure. We’ve all heard about the eye-tracking studies of the past that were riddled with inaccuracies and limitations, so it’s no surprise that 75% of respondents still believe OOH is more difficult to measure than other ad formats. Forty-four percent find it particularly challenging to measure offline conversions. 

Facing the facts:

Measuring outdoor advertising these days is as effective as any other form of digital advertising. With the right digital tools in their marketing stack, advertisers can measure performance right down to individual units. They can get granular-level data on metrics, including branded searches, social media mentions, sales lift analysis and even offline conversions. 

Building best practices:

By leveraging insights gathered from the data, advertisers can now take advantage of the channel’s full-funnel measurement ability. They can attribute campaign results, measure campaigns beyond general metrics such as frequency and reach, and use the intelligence to optimize their OOH campaigns in real time. 

The Bottom Line

OOH has come into its own as a powerful marketing channel, and the innovations in OOH have created opportunities for marketers to incorporate it seamlessly into their media mixes. 

Despite the established misconceptions, advertisers can feel confident this medium offers reliable, deep data insights and measurement capabilities that can compete head-on with those of digital marketing. It’s time to address the myths, debunk the misconceptions, and give outdoor advertising the status it deserves. 

Matthew O’Connor is the CEO and co-founder of