The Ins and Outs of Out-of-Home Advertising Costs

It’s no secret that out-of-home is a great value. But just because OOH advertising is one of the most cost-effective mediums available doesn’t mean marketers are always getting the best deal by default. Here are 8 tips for optimizing your OOH ad spend in smarter ways.

The Ins and Outs of Out-of-Home Advertising Costs

8 tips for driving the most value out of your OOH advertising campaigns

After nearly a year of rolling lockdowns and pandemic-induced business closures, people will soon take to the streets once again—likely, in droves—and stop relying on their digital devices to be their primary point of connection to the real world. As you can imagine, this shift in consumer behavior is well-positioned to drive massive growth in out-of-home advertising and further fuel the momentum the medium has been steadily building over the last 10 years.

This means brands must start planning their OOH advertising campaigns now. Demand is already high and inventory will likely get gobbled up quickly. After all, it’s no secret that out-of-home is a great value.

But just because OOH advertising is one of the most cost-effective mediums available doesn’t mean marketers are always getting the best deal by default.

The factors impacting pricing

Because OOH ads live and breathe in the physical world, there are a lot of physical factors that determine their price. (Of course, this is also one of the reasons why it can be so cost-effective!) Location arguably plays the biggest role.  If you’re looking to run a massive billboard in New York’s Times Square, you’ll need to shell out some serious cash. But that’s more of an exception than the rule. If you think outside of the box of major ad markets, prices can and will drop significantly.

Of course, price isn’t just tied to location. OOH media costs also vary based on factors like OOH ad type or format (i.e. billboard vs. wallscape vs. street art), reach or number of impressions, design, installation requirements, and more.  

> To see how costs vary across all sorts of factors, check out our Billboard Cost Calculator tool <

8 tips for getting a great deal on your OOH ads

Because we know everyone loves a good deal—especially as we wait for a little more stimulus to kick into high gear—here are a few quick tips for optimizing your OOH ad spend in smarter ways.

1. Realize that the out-of-home landscape is bigger than you think

Billboards are typically the first thing to come to mind when people think about OOH advertising. And when you think about billboards, there’s a good chance you start to associate them with the big media players—the Clear Channels, Outfronts, and Lamars of the world—and then assume that the entire landscape is dominated by those players.

Unfortunately, making that assumption is where many missed opportunities lie. You may be surprised to learn that the largest media player controls around only 15% of the OOH landscape. The remaining 1,110+ media owners across the U.S. control the rest. Some have a ton of inventory while others just have a few units to choose from. Either way, this should make it pretty clear that the broader OOH landscape is a lot bigger and much more independent vendor-driven than most people think. But this is ultimately good news for you.

The more players in the space means more competition and, thus, more competitive pricing. The only challenge—especially if you’ve only dabbled in the OOH space in the past—has traditionally been finding these independent media owners and the unique opportunities that they offer to brands. This is just one of many reasons why even the savviest media buyers tend to stick with the big players. It’s just easier. But easier isn’t always better.

That is, until now.  AdQuick offers brands a quick and easy way to reach and RFP over 98% of out-of-home media owners across the United States.

2. Let vendors know they’re competing for your ad dollars.

If you were to pitch independent media owners one-by-one—and give them any indication that you don’t have the bandwidth or resources to “shop around”—you’re simply not going to get the best price. This doesn’t mean that what you're pitched is necessarily a rip off; it just means that the pricing negotiation won’t always start from the most competitive place.

However, when those vendors know they’re competing for your marketing dollars with other media vendors, they’re much more likely to give you a better deal because, let’s face it, they will do whatever they can to not lose a deal. And then voilà, not only have you saved a lot of time finding these new OOH opportunities, but you’ve also struck a deal that’ll drive up your ROI and ROAS. (A win-win situation that will surely make your CFO happy!)

When you use the AdQuick Platform for your campaign RFPs, vendors know they’re directly competing with hundreds of other vendors –– so you’re much more likely to get the best price possible.

3. Expand your reach to lookalike markets

Although New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco hold their (well-deserved) caché in the world of advertising, they are not the end all, be all of OOH advertising. Let’s face it, your target consumers probably don’t only live in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

In fact, just relying on those markets—or using them as a default for OOH ad campaigns—is one big missed opportunity (after another) waiting to happen. So to avoid this highly undesirable situation, branch out to other ‘lookalike’ markets.

Once you look beyond those saturated metropolitan areas, you may actually attract new and valuable customers in ways that your once New York-Los Angeles-San Francisco media buying blinders blocked you from.  While you may have been reticent to consider anything other than the big out-of-home markets in the past, a wealth of data and insights can help you chart the path forward with precision and confidence.

If you are a veteran of out-of-home advertising, you might be thinking to yourself, “How is this even humanly possible?” We get it, this was pretty nonexistent in the past. But with AdQuick’s nifty and proprietary Zip Code Lookalike Tool, you can easily expand your reach into other markets that have the potential to drive just as much value—or even more—as your highest performing markets.

AdQuick's proprietary technology helps you easily identify lookalike markets based on 90+ different attributes and demographics, so you can seize new OOH opportunities.

4. Leverage audience targeting

As a variation on a theme to the above, the world of out-of-home advertising has evolved to the point where it’s now possible to target audiences via behavioral and demographic attributes or even build lookalike audiences with existing data. This is a true game-changer for the medium, making out-of-home so much more than simply a driver of brand awareness alone. It’s now an incredibly valuable asset to any performance marketer’s toolkit.

Now you can use data to both expand into new markets and also find, reach, engage, and convert highly valuable audiences that you might have thought only existed in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. By being able to match your target audience with a target market, you can set up your OOH advertising campaigns for greater success than ever before. You just need the right data. (We’ll get to that a bit more in a second, so keep on reading.)

AdQuick makes it possible for you to target your exact audience via 450+ behavioral and demographic attributes. And as the cherry on top, we allow you to use your existing audience data to build lookalike audiences and then target the right OOH ad opportunities that will reach those audiences.

5. Demand price transparency at all times

This might seem like common sense, but the world of advertising is long known for its smoke and mirrors (aka, ‘Mad Men’ style). So you have to be vigilant about keeping an eye out for any hidden costs that might be discreetly passed onto you.

For example, if you do media buying through a third-party partner or platform, be sure to verify that there are no third-party hidden fees being tacked on without you knowing. Or additionally, if you work with an agency, make sure that what they present and recommend to you aren’t always from the same (set of) vendors, as that’s almost always a red flag that 1) they really haven’t done enough digging to get the lay of the OOH land or 2) there’s some kind of behind-the-scenes agency-vendor deal that could be indirectly bias their media plans.

Now this isn’t to say that all third-party agencies, partners, or media owners are shady—because that would simply be untrue. You just need to do your due diligence to make sure you’re not only getting the best deal but also not being led to the wrong OOH watering hole.

This is why we at AdQuick take pride in being 100% transparent in our pricing at all times.  

6. Research historical pricing and performance data

The past can tell you a lot about what is likely to happen in the future. To evaluate the overall value of a future OOH ad campaign, leverage historical pricing and performance data to ensure you’re not buying OOH media blindly. After all, why waste your sacred marketing dollars when you can rely on real data to build confidence in your media buying? (This was a rhetorical question: You shouldn’t ever waste your marketing dollars!)

AdQuick offers two ways to boost your OOH ad campaign’s value:
1) Price Guide Index: Our proprietary Pride Guide feature uses historical pricing data to let you know whether the price pitched for any given OOH ad unit is a great deal, a fair price, or way too expensive to be considered. Even more, you can use our Pride Guide Index Filter to search for great deals based on your planning parameters.

2) Predictive Performance Tool: Our platform gets smarter the more our customers use it. We track every campaign conversion via our machine learning model to inform what OOH ad units will likely be the highest-performance—taking unit types, demographics, geographies, lookalike audiences and markets, and more factors into consideration. There is no other out-of-home advertising platform that does this.

7. Don’t pay extra for great data

We get it, not all advertising platforms are created equal. Some offer all of the bells and whistles you could ever ask for while others force you to cobble together a web of advertising solutions—including data providers—to make smarter media buying decisions. Don’t waste your time with the latter.

Savvy marketers believe in the power of data. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of data floating around these days—and it’s not all high-quality nor is it already easy to join with other datasets. This can quickly turn data, in the broadest sense of the word, into a proverbial minefield for marketers.

So before you decide to go on a data-buying spree, do your research on which OOH advertising platforms already provide high-quality data and insights at no extra cost. Not only will it cut costs, but it’ll save you a ton of time along the entire OOH media planning and buying process.

AdQuick has built our proprietary planning tools around six, high-quality, robust datasets –– all available as added value for our customers.

8. Measure, measure, measure!

Minimizing waste should be every advertiser’s top priority. But up until recently, measuring the effectiveness and performance of OOH ad campaigns wasn’t really easy. That’s why, for years, marketers used the medium almost purely for brand-centric campaigns.

Fortunately, the once black hole of OOH performance data is now a thing of the past. There are more ways than ever to measure the effectiveness and performance of OOH ad campaigns, whether it’s to drive awareness, recall, or even conversion (both in-store and online). Even more, these data and insights are now measurable in real-time.

This is especially important for digital out-of-home (DOOH) campaigns because now marketers can test, modify, and even swap out creative during the course of a campaign based on how a given unit is performing. Whoever thought OOH would ever come this far?

All of this comes with a fair warning, however. Once you start using measurement tools to assess the effectiveness of your OOH ad campaigns, there’s no turning back. Thinking of the medium purely for driving brand awareness alone might even start to take a back seat as you leverage OOH’s still somewhat untapped potential as a performance marketing powerhouse.

AdQuick offers the most advanced measurement and analytics tools in the OOH advertising space and include it for free when you run a campaign on the AdQuick platform. We realize that the only way to get brands to see OOH in a different light—by that we mean, as a true performance medium—is for them to see campaign performance in real-time and in ways never thought imaginable before.

Spend wisely on your next out-of-home advertising campaign

Even though out-of-home advertising is unquestionably one of the most cost-effective mediums available to brands and advertisers today, there are always ways to ensure you get the best value possible. Doing so simply requires approaching OOH in a different way than you might have in the past. For starters, be sure to use data to drive decision-making around OOH media planning, buying, and creative development as well as to assess overall performance.

More importantly, however, you need access to the right platform to have a competitive edge in your negotiations with media owners—whether it’s with the big guys or the independents.

Only AdQuick offers price transparency, historical pricing data, predictive performance tools, multi-factor cost calculators, and, drum roll please, the best price guarantee in the market for brands that are planning and booking their out-of-home advertising campaigns.

There is a right way and a wrong way to dabble in the world of out-of-home advertising. Let us help you see the light. Schedule a demo with one of our amazing OOH experts to learn more about what AdQuick can do for your brand.