Out of Home advertising is more than just billboards
Most people understand that “Out of Home” (OOH) advertising refers to billboards, transit stops, and street furniture. But OOH advertising also means digital billboards, place-based mobile advertising, and digital messages that can react to the time of day and weather. These emerging avenues were some of the customer education messages that Outfront Media, one of the top three outdoor advertising companies in the country, wanted a new website to convey.
OOH was new to us, but one of the things that we enjoy most is diving deep into new industries and absorbing information from all directions. Oomph and Straightline Media learned quite a bit about OOH while getting to know Outfront Media during our initial explorations and discovery meetings. We were surprised to learn:
of travelers see a digital billboard every month
say digital billboards stand out better than online ads
place-based screens are in the United States
The impact of out of home advertising is strong and it has evolved to meet the challenges of a digital world. Part of our job was to position Outfront as the innovative leader that they are, and educate business owners about the return on investment OOH can deliver.
In Process Wireframes
Expanding Outfront’s reach from Agencies to Mom-and-Pops
Outfront’s new brand message was “The United States of Audiences” — the demographic landscape is made up of microcosms centered around interests and activities, and they have the ability to hyper-target consumers. Outfront understands all these niche groups and can help get businesses those audiences.
Through information architecture testing, an understanding of their business goals, and internalization of this new brand message, we crafted a main navigation that spoke directly to Outfront’s target audiences. These pages communicate that Outfront “gets” them in two ways — they understand the needs of these audiences, and they can get the right message in front of the right customers to get them new business.
Large brands already understand how important it is to have OOH in their advertising mix. Dynamic digital boards are already part of their creative. An emerging market for companies like Outfront is actually smaller businesses — local chains and even mom and pop businesses. But these businesses don’t typically have an agency to manage their media purchases. To court these new customers, Outfront has to create a customer portal that supports do-it-yourself media management, and the website messaging has to educate a small business about how the process works and how to buy.
To buy media placements from Outfront, a business needs to:
- Understand the value of OOH advertising
- Explore the media options in their location
- Investigate the costs of these different options
- Call a Sales Associate in their area to discuss custom packages
Finding a market lets a potential customer define themselves even further by gathering their location data. From here, they can easily access the media that is available specifically to their geographic area. After a sale is made, a customer needs continuing support. The website should:
- Make it easy for a customer to find production specs for various media
- Provide links to a portal that give them analytics and reporting statistics
- Give them a clear path to extending their current campaign or starting a new one
Defining Audience Destinations
Outfront narrowed its focus down to the audiences that it needs to win and continue to support. New advertisers, new and existing Agency relationships, and property owners who lease their real estate to Outfront for displays — these could be individual real estate owners, large municipalities, or large destinations like airports, stadiums, and entire city transit systems. The journey for these new customers is the main navigation, and these journies funnel through the Market Finder to become more personalized.
Returning customers were important as well, and they will find inspiration, case studies, galleries, and support resources in the footer navigation. One of the reasons for this bifurcation was the amount of content that Outfront Media needs to manage. Their previous navigation tried to be everything to everyone, and therefore, was confusing. Labels were “Who We Are / What We Do / Where We Are…” contained too much “we” and not enough “you”. A modern customer doesn’t have time to figure out the navigation — it should speak to them directly in language that they understand.
Giving Visitors Clear Directions
Their previous market finder used “inside baseball” language — terms that people at Outfront understand, but that the general populace does not. Markets were labeled by city and state with vague geographic terms like “non-metro”. It was not friendly to the DIY customer. We helped guide technical conversations around how a better flow might work and captured the journey in wireframes and external working examples.
The Market finder is an integral part of the customer journey, so we placed it in page content to support the education process. As a customer understands how OOH and Outfront works, they are prompted to enter their location and get more direct information. As part of wireframes and design, the language was an important aspect to try out and sharpen. Vague button text like “Get Started” was replaced with stronger and more descriptive actions like “Start Building Your Campaign”.
Focusing Attention on Results
OOH is a powerful mechanism to reach people even as consumers become blind to advertising in traditional media — a billboard or subway poster can’t be ad-blocked. One of the most powerful ways to tell this story is through data. Outfront has a number of “Insights” but potential customers are less likely to seek this information out themselves. Instead, we made sure to include teasers along their journies that highlight the effectiveness of sample campaigns. These Insights provide powerful results with brands that visitors are familiar with.
The entire journey from discovery to wireframing, testing, and design was an exciting and challenging process that pushed both teams towards an excellent outcome. We hope that the clarity of the navigation, message, and visitor journey continues to get new eyeballs and customers.
Awards & Recognition
- 2019 dotComm Awards:
Platinum — Business to Business Website
- 2019 Davey Awards:
Silver — Professional Services Website