3 Steps for Bringing the Oldest Form of Advertising Into the Digital Age

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The billboards on Sunset Boulevard in my hometown of L.A. are in hot demand. This seems strange when you consider that the billboard is the oversized modern descendant of some of the oldest forms of human advertising. But its role has dramatically changed thanks to social media and its culture of artfully curated vanity and opened up a new realm of hybrid opportunities. It can still be difficult for brands to effectively tie outdoor and digital together, but a few key moments can take a billboard from just a big sign to the perfect asset to break through social media noise.

When we see clients—brands and artists—looking to make a big impression that leads to millions of other impressions, a billboard is often in the mix. A single billboard can have massive social media potential, one reason Sunset remains so central to campaigns. Or a single billboard in the middle of nowhere can be content creation plan, a video or activation. It’s a move worth the investment, especially if OOH ads resonate with a carefully plotted digital campaign to maximize the strengths of both.

Here are a few ways to ensure that a digital and outdoor campaign reinforce one another.

Customize the interaction between digital and physical

Digital activations can be pegged to billboards in a wide array of ways, customized to the campaign but following a few basic patterns. Geotargeting allows certain features, treats or discounts to be unlocked only when a user or fan stands near the billboard. Contests for fans or customers who post a selfie with a billboard or wild posting wall and tag them prove popular. Some clients have expanded on this by having physical goodies to give away or by inviting special guests on site. We’ve had everyone from major pop stars to Playboy bunnies hang up posters and attract attention. These lures are particularly important if the outdoor activation requires people to go out of their way or to reach the site in a certain limited timeframe.
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