Full Color Print Advertising Outdoors

Learn more about investing in outdoor ad space.

This morning, I came across a great example of exactly why it's important to have access to low cost printing, and why top-notch full color print design is a necessity. This video, from the excellent folks over at GOOD Magazine, takes you on a virtual tour through the cost of buying outdoor ad space in New York City.

To summarize the video: it's not cheap.

Of course, the cost of outdoor advertising varies depending on the city, the demographic, the population density, and your marketing vehicle of choice, but one constant remains: when advertising outdoors, the cost of design and printing with be far less than the cost of buying ad space.

If you're trying to budget, the best thing you can do is find a low cost printer. The worst thing you can do is try to skimp on design. With the overwhelming amount of outdoor advertising that assaults the senses in urban areas, nicely designed printing is a necessity.

Before beginning the design process, however, it's crucial to consider the type of outdoor advertising space that's going to be in use. The four major types of space, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, are:

  • Billboards
  • Street furniture, i.e. bus stops, benches, and mail boxes.
  • Transportation, i.e. buses, subways, and taxis.
  • Alternative outdoor, i.e. street lamp banners, wall banners, bike rack displays, bathroom ads, and street teams.
  • Deciding which route you'll take before the design process begins is essential. For example, a billboard or a banner will have all of 3 seconds to make contact with the consumer, which means a tiny amount of copy, a gripping visual, and attention to where the ad will be located. Do you want to point viewers in a particular direction? Will commuters be moving away from, or towards your product or service, when they see your ad?

    An ad located at a bus stop or on a subway will have more face time with consumers. These ads can contain more copy, and might even be worth designing in combination with an add-on such as a tear-away flyer or brochure holder.

    Even with a strategic print design, it's still essential to prioritize the eye-candy aspect of design, and prioritize it enough to get noticed in a city like New York.

    One way to do this is to consider your campaign a contribution to public art. Create something that consumers will appreciate, not something that will make them bored or annoyed.

    OAAA stats report that “Local Services and Amusements' are the #1 outdoor advertising category. Why? Because the advertising for 'amusements' like film, theatre, art galleries, museums, zoos, and seasonal events are always gorgeous, and this is because they are always designed in what the consumer perceives as a non-capitalistic, creative style.

    By applying this approach to designing for all industries, outdoor advertising can become not only a marketing tool, but a valuable public service. This transition is occurring right now, and is one of the earmarks of what we can expect from the future of advertising, outdoor and otherwise.


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