How Does Outdoor Advertising Work and How to Measure It

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

In today’s age, everyone carries a walking advertisement platform with them — their personal devices.

With the saturation of digital ads on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Google, advertisers and brands are looking for ways to stand out and get their message out in unique, widespread ways.

Outdoor advertising is nothing new, but it’s an industry that, along with the rest of the world currently, is evolving to fit the needs of the current consumer and market.

While you may be familiar with the world of outdoor advertising, a big question for many brands and media buyers, is how exactly does it work?

Even more so, how is it measured compared to traditional digital ads?

In this short guide, we’ll be walking through the main types of outdoor advertising, how it works, and the ways that it’s measured in today’s hyper centric marketplace.

What is Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising, or out-of-home media, is advertising that reaches consumers when they’re in public and away from their personal devices.

Outdoor advertising is, and always has been effective, for the simple reason that it reaches consumers in places other ad’s can’t.

Whether that’s in a subway station, shopping mall, or city street, outdoor advertising is targeted, and efficient.

Types of Outdoor Advertising

There are a few different types of outdoor advertising which as we mentioned above, have been evolving to meet the needs of the current consumer and advertiser.


OOH, or out of home advertising, was the first of it’s kind to start delivering outdoor advertisements to consumers.

These ads are most commonly in the form of billboards, posters, and kiosks. OOH ads are stationary, meaning they don’t change and can only display one ad or campaign at a time.

If you’ve ever driven down a highway, walked through a city, or been in a shopping center, you’ve been exposed to OOH advertising.


DOOH, or digital out of home advertising, is based on all of the same principles and is generally the same — except for one key difference.

That difference being that the displays are digital, giving advertisers and brands much more flexibility when it comes to the ads and messages they want to explain.

This allows brands to switch their campaigns in real time or to reach a new segment of consumers.

For example, if a physical retailer is having a one day sale, they can seamlessly adjust their outdoor advertisements in the area of the store to display that promotion.

Outdoor advertising
Photo credit: EMCOutdoor

For this reason, DOOH has been booming lately, and more brands are either adopting digital out of home into their outdoor advertising strategy or replacing their OOH ads altogether. 

How Does Outdoor Advertising Work?

The process for getting outdoor advertising live is quite similar to traditional ads, with a few differences.

First things first, you need to establish the target market and demographic that you’re marketing to.

Because outdoor advertising is generally location specific, it’s important to do research on not only your target customer, but the target locations and quantity and demographic of traffic that passes through said locations.

Standalone Campaigns

For standalone ad campaigns, brands and advertisers first connect with the media companies that own the outdoor advertising platforms (we’ll use a billboard as an example).

Once the creative, schedule and payment is agreed upon, the display is adjusted to show the ad.

Programmatic Ads

Becoming more and more common in the world of outdoor advertising, is programmatic ads.

Programmatic ads is the automated buying and selling of online advertising, so advertisers are only paying for ads that are delivered to the right people, at the right time.

Digital out of home and programmatic blends perfectly together as it gives advertisers the ability to automatically adjust their campaigns in real time, depending on demographics, and company goals.

Upcoming software platforms like Alfi, are taking data collection and real time outdoor advertising to the next level by providing live information regarding demographics and consumer trends, feeding directly into brands programmatic buying decisions.

How to Measure Outdoor Advertising

It’s a misbelief that out of home advertising makes it impossible to track metrics and conversions.

While different than digital ad platforms, it’s still convenient to get detailed metrics regarding the reach and effectiveness of outdoor ads.

These metrics are most commonly broken down into a few categories:


Impressions for outdoor advertisements are most often presented in weekly reports to gauge the total reach of your ads.

It takes into account the circulation of the ads (how long and how often they’re displayed), along with census data, travel surveys, and data modeling reports.


One of the most effective ways to measure the success of an outdoor advertisement is by having a clear CTA or call to action linked to it.

This can be in the form of promo codes, unique links, social media accounts, and other online assets that you include in your ad. What this does is create a digital trail of your ad to be able to check how your ad is converting.

Visibility Metrics

Visibility research is relatively new in the industry and takes into account contact zones and and speed data to gauge the distances your ad can be seen at, and how long people are in the designated contact zones for to be exposed to the ad.

Types of outdoor advertising
Photo Credit: AdWeek

Demographics and Psychographics

Finally, demographic and psychographic information is another key asset of measuring the effectiveness of outdoor advertising. This information typically comes from the latest censuses and surveys that are converted into data models or garnered from live data collection platforms like Alfi.

In an increasingly digital world, outdoor advertising is becoming more and more attractive for advertisers and brands alike when it comes to getting their messages in places most ads simply can’t reach.

The evolution of outdoor advertising, specifically in the DOOH industry and the technology products that come with it, will continue to attract advertisers and propel the industry in the years to come.

Ready to combine intelligent data to take your outdoor advertising experience to the next level? Chat with an Alfi representative today.

Get on the List

Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss a story from Alfi.

Latest Posts