The DO’s and DON’T’s of Outdoor Advertising

It  happens so often with new advertisers in OOH media, whether they have  prior experience working with other media or not. Most advertisers  usually get shocked when they know the prices of the OOH locations… but  because OOH is essential to their strategy, they decide to go for it  and, why not? To get the most out of it! But trying to get the maximum  out of your OOH campaign may mean including the minimum in your OOH  campaign! Contradictory, right? Well, let’s clarify it!

If you  think you paid too much and you should put everything on the OOH ad  space, just remember that this OOH ad space is seen on the road as a  business card. Of course, you may think: if my company history fits on  the business card, why shouldn’t I include it? Sure, the more they know  about you, the better for the business! But consider that turning the  OOH location in a classified ad may not be so useful for your marketing  strategy.

What every advertiser should understand is that an OOH location on the road has a Visibility Area, a Clear Visibility Area, and after that it is all a Blind Area.  So we need to understand two factors, and two factors only, that  control our ad message delivery to the audience, no matter the OOH  location of the ad:

  1. Visibility Duration:  this is the time of your ad message appearance; this time starts  counting from the moment the ad appears to the viewer on the road and  ends when it disappears from his field of view. When you look at the  graphic below, it may seem a good stretch of time, but in reality it  just means that “something” is seen in the distance: all the audience  can actually perceive is the overall color of your ad, perhaps the shape  of the billboard. Now, the stretch when the audience actually sees and  reads the ad is called the Clear Visibility Duration – during this time, the artwork, copy and contact details are in full sight to the viewer. Typically, the Clear Visibility Duration lasts about 8-12 seconds in the flowing traffic.
  2. Visibility Distance:  this is what the techies usually measure to guarantee that your artwork  elements will appear correctly to the audience and will not be too  small to be seen. So the more you include, the smaller the elements will  have to be, and therefore, the less your audience will see! Now  everything starts making sense, right?


In the graphic above, you can see the transition from the Visibility Area to the Clear Visibility Area, and eventually to the Blind Area. All you have to do is ask yourself: how much information can I comprehend in just 8-12 seconds?

Have  a look at the next table; it provides a thorough guide for the artwork  and production items that will guarantee the readability of the text on  any OOH message. This table follows the standards of the EU and US, and it is listed within the OAAA (Outdoor Advertising Association of America), FEPE (Federation European Publicite Exterieur, international association of outdoor advertising) and EOAA (European Outdoor Advertising Association) guidelines.

You  may be thinking now: “Yeah, maybe if I put too much, my text will not  be seen”. But you need to go further than that: you need to consider  that the artwork will also affect the message visibility and delivery.

Yes,  we know: it is harder than you thought! So many numbers and parameters  to consider! Not to worry: we have put together the following tips for  you; these are your new DO’s of Outdoor Advertising, and they will  really help to increase the readability of your ad:

  • Increase  the contrast between the text and the background to make the text more  visible and maximize the reading average distance
  • Make your ad  an added value to the atmosphere. Just think of how the background of  the ad affects the ad style, and try to make them match, just like a  piece of street furniture
  • Equalize the lights of the ad to match  the location atmosphere. Remember that the lights around the outdoor ad  affect the ad visibility, and you want your ad to be read day and  night.

Of course you cannot always control the atmosphere of  the location – specially in Greater Cairo, where booking locations  sometimes gets too complicated, it is difficult to control how the  environment will affect your ad.

So let’s try to focus on what you  should avoid at all times, no matter your location, or the background.  This a comprehensive list of DON’T’s to ensure you make the best out of  your artwork:

  • Avoid patterned text background or distorted backgrounds in general
  • Don’t implement fast animation on the roads, that’s for the digital screens
  • Stay away from crowded layout designs and overwhelming details
  • Forget images with very small details – it is always better to use close up photographs
  • Don’t use similar foreground and background colors, or any other low contrast
  • Not  a good idea to use mixed glossy materials or reflectors for different  elements in the design; choose one element only to highlight
  • Don’t use weak lights on roadside billboards

And don’t forget: Creativity!  You can always go the extra mile! The tips above will really help you  create a good ad in all technical aspects, but if you really want to add  value to your ad message, don’t forget that nothing beats a great idea  in the artwork or the text copy. Just remember: only great ideas  generate stories that are told (several times over!); average ideas  usually live a short life.

Campaign Credits

Industry: Marketing & Advertising

Brand: INSITE OOH

Country: Egypt

Region: North Africa

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