Marketing strategy

Local advertising in 2024: Out-of-home (OOH) ads

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When we surveyed U.S. business owners for our 2024 Business Owner Success Survey (or, the BOSS Report), they told us that increasing their investment in local advertising was a top marketing priority for 2024. This article is part of a series that explores strategies for leveraging different types of local advertising to grow your business.

As the reach of magazine, newspaper, and television marketing continues to wane—and returns from digital marketing falter in the increasingly ad-stuffed internet—small business owners can feel stuck in the middle when trying to craft an impactful marketing campaign. Fortunately, there’s a cost-effective, time-honored third option that will amplify your brand among nearby customers: localized, out-of-home advertising.

What is OOH advertising?

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising refers to any ads your customers see while out of their home and off the internet. These ads target customers who are commuting (by car, public transit, bike, or foot), shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, or are otherwise outside.

A versatile contemporary branch of OOH advertising is digital out-of-home (DOOH)—any public digital display showing an ad. DOOH advertising doesn’t include ads seen on a customer’s personal device while away from home.

The benefits of OOH advertising

Reach a high customer volume, repeatedly, at low cost

Compared with print and digital ads, OOH ads are longer lasting and harder to ignore. Depending on where you live, a well-placed screen or billboard can reach thousands or millions of potential customers, many of whom will see your ad multiple times, reinforcing your brand and products. With increased ‘mind share’ comes increased market share.

Given these potential returns, and the low lease costs of most OOH ad space, OOH advertising is a relatively cost-effective form of marketing, making it easier to slot into your budget. 

Leave an impression, away from others’ digital marketing

While digital marketing remains a priority for U.S. business owners, it’s also a highly saturated domain. Potential customers largely either use adblockers or scroll past ads instantaneously, and unpredictable algorithm updates will demand more of your marketing budget and attention.

In contrast, OOH ads reach people in the world, where they experience less information overload and engage more consciously with their surroundings. The act of placing an ad in the physical world signals that you’re confident in and committed to your brand and community.

Complement your own digital marketing

Your OOH campaign shouldn’t be completely distinct from your digital marketing. In fact, customers are more likely to interact with your digital ad once they’ve seen a physical one, so it’s best to echo visuals and slogans across different media to reinforce those connections. QR codes or links on your physical ads will allow you to track impressions, drive online engagement, and better measure overall performance of your OOH campaign.

Looking to up your digital marketing game? Get expert tips from our marketing team.

Which type of OOH strategy is right for your business?

The objective of any advertisement is to be seen by as many potential customers as possible. When deciding a place and design for your OOH advertising, consider these factors:

  • Traffic: How many people—preferably from your target segment—will pass by the ad?
  • Audience captivity: How difficult is it to avoid seeing your ad? For example, it’s easier to walk away from a street ad during a stroll than it is to drive away from a billboard during a traffic jam.
  • Visibility: How easy is it to see and understand your ad based on its location and design?
  • Environmental noise: How much does your ad stand out from other environmental stimuli—like buildings, landmarks, artworks, streets, decorations, plants, or other ads?
  • Circulation patterns: How do individuals and crowds move past or through your ad’s location, and what is their dwell time (how long they spend looking at it)?
  • Emphasis and detail: What is immediately clear and what takes time to understand about your ad? Large, succinct text and simple images are your emphasis. Small, long text and detailed images are your detail. More detail necessitates longer dwell time, and vice versa.

Streetside displays

This includes any digital display or display window that’s for purchase on walls, furniture, or other street-level structures like benches, bus shelters, pavement screens, and newsstands. 

Streetside displays are a versatile form of OOH advertising because they’re highly visible and allow for dwell time from pedestrians, allowing you to mix emphasis and detail. If you have access to a digital display, consider interactive or dynamic advertisements to better capture the attention of those on the move, or hold the attention of those at rest. 

Posters and murals

While streetside displays occupy dedicated spaces within an environment, posters and murals are placed over their environment. Posters and murals retain the benefits of static streetside displays, but also offer an opportunity for guerilla marketing if you place them in unusual locations and/or involve local artists, designers, and aesthetics.


These large, visible advertisements stand over high-traffic areas like major roadways or walkways, making them a particularly attention-grabbing and high-impact form of OOH advertising. Roadside billboards, in particular, benefit from little environmental noise and a captive audience approaching from one direction.

Because billboards are seen from a distance, keep your design simple and emphasis-driven. Detail will be difficult to read, especially by drivers, for whom dwell time can be hazardous. If your billboard targets drivers, keep your call to action simple and easy to recall, as drivers can’t snap a picture or write down information.


Public transit marketing strategies can be simpler to define, as they target a captive, stationary audience of commuters. Different transit types may also offer multiple ad spaces within view, so you can coordinate your ads to have different emphases and details.

When planning a public transit marketing campaign, tailor your ads to the experience of using each type of transit, as your ads will compete with other common sources of rider attention. For example:

Riders can look out of windowsRiders have internet accessRiders are seated or standing
Above-ground trains/tramsYesYesMost likely seated
SubwaysMostly noMostly noEqually seated or standing
BusesYesYesEqually seated or standing
Ferries/water taxisYes, and can possibly stand outsideYesAlmost certainly seated, if inside

Retail displays

Collaborate with another retailer to showcase your products in their shop window or store. This allows you to control emphasis and detail and boost dwell time with interactive displays. Plus, a customer might make a purchase right from your OOH advertisement.

A simpler retail display might involve placing a flyer in a supermarket, shopping center, or mall window, or advertising in another store’s cart or basket. This can be a cost-effective strategy in high-traffic areas, though it may be affected by environmental noise and low visibility.

How to create effective OOH advertisements

1. Localize your messaging 

OOH ads will reach a more specific audience than digital ads do, so consider the unique lifestyles, values, and commuting patterns of the people who are going to see them. Employ local language, imagery, or landmarks, or appeal to local pride, pain points, traditions, or everyday experiences.

2. Adapt your ad to its environment

To create an OOH ad that resonates, you’ll need to consider the contexts and ambiance in which it’ll be seen. For example, your approach will differ if your potential customers are socializing at an outdoor cafe, walking through a bustling city street, or driving down a highway during rush hour.

Visit your target location (or view it on Google Maps) to ensure your ad will suit its surroundings. Be responsible when occupying public space and create ads that show awareness of their environment by being either harmonious or intentionally contrasted.

3. Differentiate your brand from other OOH ads

As with any marketing campaign, it’s important to set yourself apart, both from your industry competitors and other OOH advertising around you. Conduct a white space analysis to evaluate the design language and aesthetics of your competitors, and whether their OOH ads emphasize brand voice, product features, or something else.

4. Collect engagement data

Include a QR code, link, or hashtag on your ad to help measure engagement with your OOH campaign and track marketing KPIs. To drive customers to your brick-and-mortar location, offer exclusive in-store discounts using a code or reference to the ad. Use this data to inform future marketing campaigns and strategy.

Invest in out-of-home marketing with the help of a Bluevine Line of Credit.


This content is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice of any type, such as financial, legal, tax, or accounting advice. This content does not necessarily state or reflect the views of Bluevine or its partners. Please consult with an expert if you need specific advice for your business. For information about Bluevine products and services, please visit the Bluevine FAQ page.

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This content is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice of any type, such as financial, legal, tax, or accounting advice. This content does not necessarily state or reflect the views of Bluevine or its partners. Please consult with an expert if you need specific advice for your business. For information about Bluevine products and services, please visit the Bluevine FAQ page.

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