However interesting the term OOH media may sound, it only refers to out-of-home media. It refers to billboards, posters, hoardings and such designs that you only see when you are out of your home, on the go.

OOH media also includes branding of buses, taxis, trains, sports stadiums etc., and with the advancement of digital age, we now have jumbotrons and other digital tools for OOH advertising.

I’m sure most of our audience already knew what OOH advertising and media is but I had to give a little background for the newbies. Now let’s get on with today’s article.

The stark difference OOH media have with the rest of the means of advertising is the exposure time. The attention of the user is lost in an instant.
You have very little time to grab attention, communicate your message and persuade them for an action. How do you do that? That’s what we’ll learn today.

The Foundation: AIDA Model

If you already know what AIDA model is, just skip ahead. If you don’t know what it is, have a look at this video.

That was a fun song, wasn’t it. Now let’s come back to today’s topic, OOH media.

The difference between other channels of advertising is that usually, your main audience consists of passing by people. They can be driving cars, traveling in a bus/train or just walking down a path. You don’t have their attentions. That’s where it gets difficult!

When a commercial runs on TV, the user was already watching TV. If you run an advertisement in a newspaper, the user would already be reading the paper.
Grabbing attention is a problem in every medium but not as much it is in OOH media. It is really difficult because your design will remain on a side. So, how do you grab the attention?

Drop the bomb!

You saw the heading “drop the bomb”, you saw this image of Maria Sharapova looking startled, now you’re interested in this signboard, you are curios now… right? That’s how you generate interest of the user.

Grabbing the attention is vital in OOH media

I love tennis. I play it, I follow Wimbledon each year… but would I look at a sign board for Wimbledon? I don’t think so. But would I look at this board? Definitely!

This design aroused my curiosity, not because of Tennis but Ms. Sharapova looking aghast. You pay attention to that… even if you don’t like tennis.

The Humor Factor

One of the easiest ways to grab attentions is using humor in advertisements. Humor has a shock value like no other. Let’s take a couple of examples.

A detergent advertisement

Bolt Detergent Smells good

A Foot Care Advertisement

very funny commercial

A cinema advertisement.

Utopolis Titanic Funny Advertisement

Billboard placement.

funny Billboard Ad

The last one was a bit too much, wasn’t it?

Anyway, let’s get back to our topic. Did you notice that unlike our first advertisement, the latter ones didn’t have anyone famous face in them. That’s the power of humor.

There are many factors that can make a design attention grabbing. Here’s a list of some of the common ones.

  1. A famous face such as Maria Sharapova.
  2. A startling statement such as “You are a MURDERER! You are murdering yourself by smoking.”
  3. Intriguing question, such as “Wanna be a MILLIONAIRE? Read my book on habits of young millionaires.”
  4. A ridiculous picture, such as a seagull smashing into a woman’s face when she’s making the titanic pose with her partner.
  5. A combination of the factors mentioned above. For instance, just imagine if Kim Kardashian was getting hit by a seagull, wouldn’t you notice that sign board even more?

For, inspiration on humor based OOH advertising, you can check out our collections of hilarious print ads and funny outdoor ads.

If humor is not the answer

Even though humor is a great tool to shock anyone, it is not always the answer. The theme of the product or brand may not afford humor, or maybe the client’s marketing manager does not want humor in their ads. What to do then?

The principles stay the same. You have to grab attention in an instant and deliver your message quickly.

Concept Based Advertisements

If humor seems not classy enough then the best way to go is creating concept ads for the client. Here are the examples.

A job placement website.

Career Builder Conceptual Ad

Don’t over speed.

meaningful ad

Energy bars.

power bar great ad

WWF: Save Trees

wwf outdoor advert

Nescafe wakes you up.

outdoor ad

Go Controversial!

If your whole target is to grab attention and nothing else, then going controversial is the best way. Here are the examples.

Unhate Foundation

Hu Jintao and Barack Obama

An anti racism advertisement.

Anti-racism advertisement

Over 50% of all suicides are committed by senior citizens.

Adam Le Adam

How to Choose the Right Words / Copy?

Now let’s come to content, the king of everything.

Instead of lengthy paragraphs, I’m going straight to the point.

  • The shorter it is, the memorable it is.
    This is the rule. The shorter your message, your copy and words will be, the more impact it will have. For instance, the word big will be more memorable than large. And in terms of copy Don’t Go Ahead is not as forceful as Stop!
  • Use less words and smaller words.
    That’s how you make catchy punchlines and taglines and memorable slogans.
  • You must never use more than 7 words
    Why 7? Why not 6 or 8? I don’t know but that’s the rule of copy writing for OOH media. You must never use more than 7 words in an outdoor advertising campaign.

Summing it up

OOH media or outdoor advertising is a high paying niche of graphic design. However, it requires a very particular set of skills; skills that you must acquire. These skills need to be taken because you don’t learn them just by studying designing. Experience matters a lot here.

This was only an introductory article. If you would like to learn these concepts in-depth, please check out our detailed articles on the psychology of fonts and typography, and how colors influence the users mind. Colors, fonts and shapes play a big role when it comes to grabbing attention and communication of the message.

That’s it for tonight everyone. If you have a tip for design outdoor advertisements, please do share it with us using the comments section below.

Your feedback is also valuable for us, so please keep us guided.

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