A Detailed Guide to Digital Out of Home Advertising

DOOH Advertising

Table of Contents

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has been a popular marketing channel for centuries. It has been a long time since the rise of digital OOH advertising. The original OOH ad includes painted murals and posters. They are still effective in catching audiences’ attention with their bold messaging. Several years ago, digital out of home (DOOH) became more popular among marketers.

We will explore the world of DOOH advertising in this article.

What is digital out of home advertising?

Digital out of home advertising is a kind of marketing to use digital displays. They deliver messages to potential consumers in public locations.

Unlike traditional OOH advertising, DOOH is dynamic and interactive. It can provide customized content based on audience location and time of the day. There are different formats of DOOH, such as video walls, digital billboards, etc.

DOOH Advertising

Formats of digital out of home advertising:

With advancements in digital technology, DOOH advertising has become more popular. Below are some standard formats:

Digital billboards:

They are one of the most prominent formats of DOOH advertising. They display brand advertisements everywhere, from busy highways to motel rooftops. Research shows 81% of viewers engage with brands featured on OOH digital billboards.

With the emergence of 3D technology, OOH digital billboards have entered the future. 3D digital billboards can evoke a “wow” factor among viewers. We believe they will dominate the outdoor advertising industry soon.

A famous example is the 3D digital billboard in Chengdu, China. A Chinese LED display supplier installed it in 2019. One notable feature of the billboard is its ability to create the illusion of depth. And images shown in it seem to extend out of the screen. It has become a popular attraction.

DOOH Advertising

Bus stop advertising:

It has become a popular platform for engaging ad campaigns. It is because people are free when waiting for a ride. So it is easy to capture their attention.

A well-known example is Pepsi Max’s AR DOOH screen at a London bus shelter. It is a transparent screen. And it is with augmented reality technology. It shows DOOH advertising can create immersive and memorable experiences for people.

DOOH Advertising

Footpath DOOH:

DOOH installations on sidewalks can receive high impressions. It is easy to glance at bright OOH digital screens whether you are jogging or catching the morning bus.

It was reported that this advertising has the fastest outreach per thousand. But it needs low OOH advertising cost. It is due to their mobility.

In 2019, McDonald’s Brazil launched a DOOH campaign. It is called “McDonald’s Surprise Alarm” in São Paulo. A DOOH digital signage on the sidewalk activated when a McDonald’s delivery bike approached. Then it will display a personalized message to the customer. The message was something like “Hi, Maria! Your Big Mac is just around the corner.” It generated a lot of buzz on social media. And it helped increase brand awareness.

DOOH Advertising

Car top DOOH:

Are you looking to market on wheels? You can achieve it with car top DOOH. This method provides a broader reach for your promotions. The geo-targeting function allows you to display specific ads based on the car’s location.

A great example is Uber’s car top DOOH in the USA. In 2020, Uber introduced digital screens on top of their vehicles in some states. They included Atlanta, Phoenix, and Dallas. And they expanded to New York and Chicago in 2021. The quantity reached 1,000 cars. It became the first mobile digital out of home network of this kind.

DOOH Advertising

Elevator DOOH:

It has become a common advertising platform in shopping malls, hotels, and so on. Elevator screens are generally 15 inches. They display different ads, such as movie ticket prices of the nearest movie theatre. People inside the lift are bound to see the ads. So it is a highly effective advertising method.

One example is the movie promotion of “Transformers Age of Extinction” in 2014. Elevator screens in 16 China major cities showed it. They were turned into interactive games featuring movie characters. The game allowed people to control Transformers’ characters and compete with other players. It achieved high engagement and generated over 21 million views on social media.

DOOH Advertising

Benefits of digital out of home advertising:

Why should brands choose digital OOH to advertise their products and services? What advantages does it bring? In this part, we will discuss the benefits of DOOH advertising:

Reach larger audiences:

If you want to reach a large and diverse audience, DOOH advertising is an ideal solution. You can advertise in busy public locations with OOH digital screens. These locations can include shopping malls, airports, and so on. So a lot of audiences can see your advertisements.

DOOH Advertising

Higher engagement:

It is one of the primary benefits of DOOH advertising. Due to dynamic content, DOOH has higher engagement than that traditional advertising. Many studies also proved it. For example, one study by Nielsen found DOOH advertising had 52% ad recall. It was higher than conventional OOH advertising, which was 38%.

Another factor for higher engagement is DOOH advertising can show customized content. You can display targeted ads to specific audiences based on the time, location, etc.

Besides, it is interactive OOH advertising. A campaign by Coca-Cola allowed viewers to make personalized Coke bottles on screen. And they shared them on social media. As a result, it led to higher brand engagement.

DOOH Advertising

Greater flexibility and control:

Unlike traditional advertising, DOOH provides you with greater flexibility. Such flexibility includes:

  • The content to display.
  • The timing of the campaign.
  • The location to target.

You can change DOOH advertising in real time. For instance, DOOH screens can show different ads at different times of the day. They can improve the rate for the right audience to see the right message at the right time.

Besides, you have greater control over the campaigns. You can track campaigns’ performance and measure their ROI. So you can ensure you are using your budgets effectively and getting the best results.

DOOH Advertising


DOOH advertising is a cost-effective method to reach a large audience. It is because you can create ads digitally. So it reduces production and installation costs. However, traditional advertising is labor-intensive. So it leads to higher OOH advertising cost.

You can pay for continuous ads or share space with others with the DOOH display. It is good, especially at the beginning of your campaigns. When you get successful in the campaigns, you can increase your investment.

Differences between traditional OOH and digital OOH advertising:

OOH advertising has been around for centuries. It started with painted ads on walls or buildings. It is a broad concept including all advertising OOH campaigns to target people outside the home.

Traditional OOH advertising includes billboards, street furniture, and transit ads. They are static, and the targeting is limited. And it is expensive due to printing, installation, and maintenance costs.

With technology development, DOOH advertising has become more popular. It uses digital out of home screens to display dynamic content. It can target an accurate customer crowd. We can also call it programmatic DOOH advertising. Besides, it is more competitive.

DOOH Advertising

Measurement and metrics for digital OOH advertising effectiveness:

Measuring OOH advertising effectiveness is necessary. So you need to know how to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. We will discuss some critical metrics used in DOOH advertising in this section.


Impressions are a fundamental metric in DOOH and other methods of advertising. We use “opportunities to see” (OTS) or “daily effective circulation” (DEC) to measure them. They refer to the number of times people view an advertisement, no matter whether they take action or not.

Generally, people use the following technologies to measure impressions in DOOH advertising:

  • Monitoring devices.
  • Sensors.
  • GPS data.

They can track the number of people and cars passing by the billboard.

Besides, we can divide impressions into different categories:

  • Unique impressions: It refers to the number of individual viewers who see the ads.
  • Frequency: It indicates the average times the same person views the ads.

Although impressions are crucial, they alone may not convert into sales. For instance, having high impressions but low engagement rates is possible. It means the ads failed to catch the audience’s attention. So it is vital to analyze conversion rates too. In this way, it can maximize the effectiveness of DOOH advertising.

DOOH Advertising


It is another critical metric. It refers to the extent to which audiences interact with the DOOH content. High engagement can lead to greater recall and brand awareness.

We measure it with click-through rates (CTR) and dwell time (how long a person looks at an ad).

You can apply interactive elements in the digital billboard to track it. For example, you can equip the DOOH display with radar. So viewers can interact with it. Then you can measure interaction types, such as clicking a link or sharing on social media.

Location data:

It allows you to track the physical location of viewers. So you know how and where they are engaging with your ads. You can target your audiences with location data. For example, you want to target specific audiences in a region. In that case, you can use location data to identify high-foot-traffic areas. And you place your ads there.

You can measure your ads by analyzing the behavior of the audience. For instance, if an ad gets high engagement in one location but low in another, you can change the strategy.

Audience data:

It provides valuable information on the behavior of people who view the ads. So you can better understand your target audience and optimize your DOOH campaigns.

There are several methods to collect audience data:

  • Anonymous mobile device tracking: You can collect data from nearby smartphones or tablets. So you can know the age, gender, income, and interests of people passing by your digital billboard. And you can tailor your ads according to the information.
  • Facial recognition technology: You can embed cameras in the digital billboard. So you can analyze the facial features of passersby.
  • Surveys: You can ask people their opinions on the DOOH ads. In this way, you can know your campaign effectiveness better.

DOOH Advertising


It measures the percentage of an ad that was visible to the viewer and for how long. It ensures you get what you gave. Besides, it helps you optimize your DOOH campaigns.

One disadvantage of viewability in DOOH advertising is the lack of industry standards. For digital advertising, there are specific criteria. It is set by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). But DOOH viewability measurement is still unregulated. However, Digital Place-based Advertising Association (DPAA) is working to establish standards for it.


It is a crucial metric. You can use it to measure whether a digital OOH campaign is successful. A conversion occurs when audiences take a specific action:

  • Visit a website.
  • Fill out a form.
  • Sign up for a service.

Here are several ways to track conversions in DOOH advertising:

  • QR codes or NFC technology: You can place the codes on the ad. Audiences can scan them with their smartphones. It can lead them to your website and place an order.
  • Geofencing technology: It involves creating a virtual boundary around a physical area. You can track how many viewers enter that area after seeing the ad.
  • Unique promo codes or phone numbers in the ad: You can measure how many viewers took action after using the code.

Challenges and considerations of DOOH advertising:

DOOH advertising offers many advantages over the traditional one. However, there are some challenges you need to be aware of before investing in DOOH campaigns:

Technical challenges:

DOOH needs a complex technical infrastructure to manage content. So you need to ensure OOH digital billboards function correctly. Technical failures can have an impact on the effectiveness of the ads. Such failures include screen freezing, network connectivity issues, or power outages.

Contents creating:

DOOH has a limited time and space to convey a message. It can be challenging. But you still need to create compelling content.

Here are some points for reference when you create content:

  • The content must be suitable for the specific digital screen’s size. It would help if you optimized it according to the screen’s aspect ratio. So the message is clear. And people can read it easily.
  • The content should be appropriate for the location or audience. For instance, advertising a winter coat in a warm climate may not be effective.
  • The content should not be repetitive or annoying to audiences. You need to consider the frequency and duration of the ads. You should get a balance between getting messages across and not overwhelming viewers.
  • The content can respond to events or situations and be real-time displaying. For example, a sports brand may show live scores or highlights during a game. Or, a restaurant may display daily specials or promotions.

DOOH Advertising

Compliance challenges:

When showing ads in public spaces, you need to ensure they follow various regulations. Otherwise, it may result in penalties.

First, you need to ensure the ads are not offensive or inappropriate for the public.

Another challenge is safety. You need to install the digital billboard well, ensuring it does not pose a risk to public safety. For instance, the installation locations should not obstruct pedestrian or vehicle traffic. Besides, you should confirm the hardware and software are stable to operate. So it can minimize the risk of accidents or malfunctions.

Also, you need to follow data protection and privacy regulations. You should get explicit consent from consumers before collecting or using their data.

Environmental considerations:

It is crucial to consider the environmental impact of DOOH advertising. Here we will share some points in this aspect:

Energy consumption:

It needs electricity to operate digital billboards. So it can increase energy consumption. You can opt for energy-efficient digital displays to reduce this impact. Besides, you can schedule ads to display during peak hours and not during nighttime.


The upgrading of equipment can cause electronic waste. You can reduce it by choosing high-quality and durable equipment.

Light pollution:

Light pollution can have negative impacts on human health. To minimize light pollution, you can adjust brightness levels. You can make it either manually or automatically.

DOOH Advertising

Future of digital OOH advertising:

DOOH has revolutionized the advertising industry. It provides new opportunities to connect with potential clients. And it plays a vital role in the digital future. So what can we expect from its development?

More personalized advertising:

With the help of new technology like AI, you can customize DOOH ads based on the passersby preferences. You can create more targeted campaigns.

Interactive advertising:

It is already a part of DOOH advertising. But it will become more common in the future. You can create more engaging experiences for audiences with the following technologies:

  • Touchscreens.
  • Gesture recognition.
  • Voice assistants.


It is a growing concern in all fields. More people will realize the environmental impact and look for more sustainable solutions.


In a word, DOOH advertising has become a powerful tool for reaching customers. Although it has some challenges, we can count on it to bring a more dynamic future.

Sunny Wong
Sunny Wong

Hello. I am Sunny Wong, the author of this post.

I entered the LED screen industry in 2008 and have always been in this field.

The purpose of this article is to share with you the knowledge related to LED screens from a Chinese supplier’s perspective.

If you want to distribute or explore your local LED screen market, please ask me any questions.

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