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  • Frank Gussoni

Creative vs. Location: For a Successful OOH Campaign, which is More Important?

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

When it comes to billboard advertising, most people would say that it is the creative that matters most. While it is true that this form of media is a “visual storyteller” for a brand, it is just as important to make sure that people can not only read the messaging but also “see it”.

When billboard advertising is created effectively and able to be seen, it is a great way to sway impulsive drivers’ decisions on where to shop. Drivers make the majority of their shopping decisions while in the car and many of them will make the decision to stop at the store while on their way home.

Considering that people are usually on the move when they are reading billboards, there is not a lot of time to get your message across to the audience. The average amount of time people spend reading a billboard is usually less than six seconds. Your message must be clear and to the point. When designing the creative for a billboard campaign, you should always think less is more. Think of ways to make the messaging entertaining in some fashion. Remember, this form of media is not accompanied by other programming or editorial content. It stands on its own and must do all the heavy lifting to get people to notice it.

While the creative really is key to making an impact with any OOH campaign, it’s the placement that can make or break its true success. Most OOH companies that sell billboards will talk to you about the importance of impressions. The billboards on heavy trafficked roads that receive greater amounts of impressions will be more expensive. But what many of these companies will not share with you are other factors that need to be considered when selecting a billboard.

Locations must be considered for more than just the traffic patterns or Eyes on Impression (EOI). In addition to telling you how many impressions a billboard will receive; many billboard companies will provide pictures of boards for you to select from that are available in their inventory. Of course, they are the glamour shots, and no one knows when these photos were taken. It could have been many years prior before a building went up in front of it or before trees grew around it. It is always a good idea to get updated photos or do a drive-by if possible, to get a current view of the location. Pay attention to trees, buildings, powerlines, signs, streetlights and anything else that may be in the way of a consumer’s view.

The surroundings of the location should also play a part in the creative choices being made for the campaign. If the campaign is being placed in a more urban area where the surroundings are typically grey in color or a more natural tree filled setting where the surroundings are typically green, select a color scheme that is more vibrant. Steer clear of black and brown colors as they will be easily missed.

Regarding the content, don’t try to get too clever. You do not want billboards to make people scratch their heads and wonder what is going on. Dense visual imagery or complex content are not a good idea. Most importantly, make sure the logo of the company is clear and easy to read. After all this is advertising. Do not leave people guessing what your message is and who it was for.

Out of Home advertising is a great choice for so many types of companies, both large and small. But no matter who you are or how much money you invest, if the creative or the location(s) fall short, success will be that much harder to achieve.

Out of Home is still a powerful media tool when used properly, especially for local companies. It can help garner the attention of thousands of folks right in your own back yard that smaller media outlets such as flyers, pamphlets or mailers may miss. They’re extremely helpful for brand launches, new models and time sensitive matters. While no one medium is ever the best answer, don’t discard using out of home advertising in your media mix, until you fully vet its usefulness.



President & Founder of A3 media.

We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

Frank’s Take provides uncommon sense media buying advice for regional and mid-market businesses.

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President & Founder of A3 media. We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

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