The Psychological impact of outdoor advertising

With the rapid growth of digital technologies and advertising in particular, many people predicted the decline of the traditional OOH ads as outdated and ineffective.

Nevertheless, we witness the opposite – out of home advertising is becoming incredibly creative, and even brands that work in the digital sphere don’t neglect this channel, and place their billboards in the public venues influencing the behavior of customers.

We write a lot about the ways that outdoor advertising can build your brand, bring you more customers, and boost your profits, but do you know why Out-of-Home (OOH) is such a powerful advertising medium?

This is why an appreciation of psychology is central to all successful marketing campaigns, with subtle techniques such as priming, which enabling brands to drive recognition and reinforce key messaging in the minds of consumers.

The Brain Processes Billboard Data Whether you’re Consciously Viewing it or Not

Across both traditional and digital platforms, it’s estimated that at least 71% of the population regularly look at billboards and consciously processed the featured messaging. According to some psychological studies, however, it’s also fair to surmise that billboards are capable of engaging customers whether they’re consciously looking at an advert or not.

While this may seem strange, it can be explained by the incredible processing abilities of the unconscious mind, which can comfortably process up to 11 million pieces of information per second. By contrast, the conscious mind can process just 40 pieces of data during the same period of time, making it less capable of handling large volumes of information in real-time.

So even though your next customer doesn’t realize he’s seeing your billboard, he actually is!

Billboards can Trigger an Emotional Response

If brands are to successfully engage their customers, they need to invest in messaging and marketing channels that can elicit an emotional response. The importance of this is borne out by statistics, which suggest that emotions are the driving force behind approximately 50% of all buying decisions. This suggests that customers do not always give rational thought to the purchasing decisions that they make, with the feelings generated by creative advertising and channels like billboards having a significant influence on the subconscious mind. Interestingly, most of the feelings experienced by humans are also associated with deep psychological needs, such as thirst, hunger and an underlying desire for belonging. Marketers are subsequently able to target these through billboards, thanks to their prominent nature, use of compelling imagery and ability to share narratives that demand a response.

Billboards Allow you use Color to your Advantage

We’ve already touched on the benefits of large format billboards, which provide a vast canvas on which to share impactful messaging and compelling imagery (you can check our Guide to Better Out-Of-Home). Large format billboards can also be brought to life with the use of vibrant and eye-catching colors, so long as they relate to the brand’s visual identity and its existing palette.

This means that large format billboards also represent the ideal channel through which to leverage the psychology of color. In simple terms, companies can make strategic color choices that directly influence the minds of customers and elicit a specific response, depending on the purpose of the advert and its key messaging.

Billboards Create Familiarity and Higher Conversion Rates

As humans, we tend to be resistant to change, even those that have the potential to be positive for us. This is because we’re naturally inclined to do the things that make us feel content, secure and innately comfortable, rather than trialing new things that exist outside of our comfort zones.

This mindset has a considerable influence on the outlook of consumers, with a study by the marketing agency Red C discovering that shoppers heavily prioritize brands that they’re already familiar with. In fact, 82% of customers who undertook a shopping-related task online chose a familiar brand to complete their purchase, while just 16% favored an unknown entity.

This trend is also prevalent offline, as shoppers immediately seek out brands that they know and trust to help them solve their consumer queries. Nielsen research also confirms that outdoor advertising is established as one of the most trusted advertising mediums, particularly when compared to online channels. An estimated 56% of customers implicitly trust this medium, while a further 58% are inclined to take direct action after viewing an ad.

With these points in mind, we see that billboard advertising is a trusted and highly visible channel. As a result, it’s capable of both engaging customers and building loyalty over time, which in turn translates into a higher rate of conversions for brands.

Ultimately, the purpose of billboard advertising is to engrain your branding into the consciousness of the public, so that when they think of a product or a service, they think of your brand.

For more information on OOH and DOOH advertising, and how we can help with your next campaign, contact us today at 210-610-5012 or email

Source: Penneco, Nielsen, Airoutdoor, Tracklam

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