OOH advertising: Everything you need to know to get started

Apr 3, 2024


In Airtable’s early days, the brand launched a $200K+ billboard campaign to drive word-of-mouth among enterprises. The company placed these out-of-home (OOH) ads in SF, NY, and LA close to the offices of Airtable’s major customers. 

But according to David Peterson, Airtable’s former Head of Growth, the campaign wasn’t a slam dunk. Prospects and customers frequently mentioned the ad, but Airtable didn’t see a significant lift in traffic or conversions from the campaign. 

“As is often the case with early-stage growth experimentation, there wasn’t enough data to prove that one way or the other,” said Peterson. 

Airtable isn’t alone here. Many marketing teams struggle to measure the impact of OOH campaigns, or worse, don’t launch these ads at all. They figure OOH is too hard to buy and measure and won’t yield short-term results. 

Here’s the good news: OOH ads are measurable and effective. The key is finding the right advertising and analytics partners to place, launch, and track your campaigns. We’ll break down the basics of setting up and measuring OOH advertising so you’re on your way to building your own plan. 

But first, what makes OOH ads worthwhile?

Billboards are just one type of OOH campaign. Companies can also advertise on public seating, outdoor walls, transit, and point-of-sale displays. Here are the main reasons these OOH ads are worth the investment.

Broad reach 

OOH campaigns are visible to consumers 24/7. Even at night, people can see billboards, bus stop ads, and other types of OOH marketing with proper lighting. Assuming these campaigns are placed in areas with foot traffic, marketers can confidently reach a wide audience with their OOH ads. 

Digital campaigns, on the other hand, have limited visibility since consumers can block ads. People in your target audience may also miss these campaigns because they don’t use their devices frequently. 

Strong impact

OOH ads are ideal for punchy, memorable campaign messages because they’re typically large and unavoidable. 

Consider the customer data platform Segment’s 2019 billboard’s famous “Good morning, [city]!” campaign.

A Segment billboard that appeared in San Francisco. [Source]

The billboard’s message stuck with Segment’s target audience because they constantly saw it on their daily commutes, and the fake mistake was funny to data professionals. Some consumers didn’t understand the billboard’s joke, creating even more buzz for Segment. 


Geo-targeting capabilities

Using customers’ location data, brands can place OOH ads in locations with the highest concentration of their target audience. Segment, for example, put their “Good morning” billboards near the headquarters of their top prospects.

“Under Armour, which is in Baltimore, got a [bill]board within view of their waterfront offices,” said Maya Spivak, Segment’s former Head of Global Marketing. “Retail-Me-Not, in Austin, same. We closed all of them.”


When marketing teams get stuck at the OOH brainstorming stage, it’s usually because the campaign seems too expensive. Bobby Pinero reached this conclusion for his company, Equals. 

“We created design mock-ups of billboards, but we never actually launched them,” said Pinero. “Cost was 90% of our reasoning. We know OOH is really expensive.”

It’s true that OOH can be cost-prohibitive for small, growing brands. But for many medium to large companies, OOH is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels. Businesses today can get the best deal on their campaign because they can assess thousands of OOH vendors and see pricing directly from those suppliers (more on that later). 

OOH also has a lower cost per thousand impressions (CPM) than many digital channels, according to Solomon Partners’ 2022 research. Online media’s CPM ranges from $0.80 to $40, while OOH’s is $2 to $9. 


Ty Tinker, Director of Analytics for the OOH advertising platform AdQuick, agrees with Solomon’s $2 to $9 range for OOH, but offers an even more precise CPM of $5. 

“Our internal AdQuick data shows a $5 CPM for OOH by considering additional media sources like taxi and subway ads, billboards, and more.” said Tinker.

At $5, OOH’s CPM is quite low relative to other marketing types. Mobile display and general display ads are the only media with a lower CPM in Solomon’s chart.

Complementary to online media (and vice versa)

Even with targeting in place, online ads don’t always reach a brand’s entire audience. There may be buyers who are less likely to use their devices and more likely to miss these online campaigns. 

OOH ads ensure that everyone sees your marketing regardless of their online habits. Once consumers see this advertising, they’re primed to notice similar brand messaging online. 

Likewise, digital marketing data helps teams enhance their OOH campaigns. By tracking location data from consumers who engage with online ads, marketers can make informed decisions about where to place OOH campaigns. 

How do I launch OOH ads for the first time?

Get a taste of what’s required to plan and execute an OOH campaign with this condensed explanation, based on tips from the OOH advertising platform (and Paramark partner) AdQuick. For a full explanation of the OOH ad setup process, check out this AdQuick post.

Define clear objectives

The first step to successfully measuring your OOH advertising is deciding which metrics are worth tracking at the outset. Think about what your marketing and leadership teams want to achieve with the OOH campaign. 

Your objective will likely be a top-to-mid-funnel goal, such as increasing brand awareness or website traffic. In some cases, if you design your OOH buys to go along with a sales strategy, you can pick a down-funnel metric too.  Whatever you choose, having a clear target metric is critical for accurately measuring the OOH campaign’s success. 

Determine your OOH ad’s target audience

Collect first-party data about your OOH campaign’s target audience so you’re ready to evaluate different ad options at the purchasing stage. This data will likely cover your ideal buyer’s:

  • Location

  • Demographics

  • Behavior 

  • Lifestyle 

We don’t recommend using second-party or third-party data because these sources are often noisy. If you use these types of data, check the information closely to make sure it’s accurately representing your target customer.

Choose an OOH ad format 

Choose your ad’s format based on your budget and target audience and guidance from your OOH ad platform. AdQuick’s team of experts offers clients free consulting on choosing OOH ad formats that fits their strategy and ideal customer personas. 

To see how a brand chooses its OOH ad types, consider Netflix. The brand wanted to market its series “Sonic Prime” and knew many of its target viewers—families with kids and gamers—would be at Washington Capitols hockey games. To wow its audience, Netflix released an innovative OOH ad—an on-ice projection video—during a Capitols game to promote the show. 


The marketing was engaging with colorful lights and a fun plot, and fans could see the projection from any seat in the stadium. 

Buy your ad space from an OOH vendor

While you can purchase OOH ad space directly from a vendor, we don’t recommend this route. You’ll have to contact each vendor to request pricing and other ad placement details, which is time-consuming. And if you’re unfamiliar with the OOH advertising space, it’s hard to know whether you have enough information to evaluate each offer. 

Instead, look for an OOH partner that simplifies the buying process. AdQuick offers a marketplace with thousands of vendors for any type of OOH media. Businesses using the platform can easily compare OOH supplier-direct pricing, location, and demographics all in one place. 

OOH partners can also evaluate different vendors’ ad options for you based on your target audience data. AdQuick has a proprietary audience index filter to easily show users which ads will most likely reach their target customers.

Launch the campaign

Once you’ve purchased your OOH ad, it’s time to create your ad’s text and design and schedule your campaign. The required time for this step depends on your OOH partner. Building and launching the campaigns typically takes ten days for a brand running its own OOH ads, whereas planning and running an ad with AdQuick takes a few hours.

How do I measure the topline impact of my OOH ads?

Once you’ve launched  your OOH campaign, you’re ready to assess its performance. Many teams struggle with measuring this brand marketing because they can’t track OOH impressions in real time like they can with digital campaigns.

If you’re handling OOH analytics on your own, you’ll need in-house OOH experts who know:

  • How to pull accurate OOH impression data

  • How to assess this data alongside target customer profiles

  • Marketing measurement techniques that fit OOH data

Marketing professionals rarely have this expertise, so brands often turn to OOH advertising and analytics platforms that specialize in measuring these campaigns. Here are a few ways you can use these two solutions to evaluate your OOH ads’ topline impact.

Implement Attribution Models

Traditionally, marketers couldn’t track OOH ad impressions back to conversions. Modern OOH advertising platforms have found a workaround by monitoring users’ device IDs. 

AdQuick, for example, collects device ID data from ad vendors to determine the number of users exposed to an OOH and the number of users who converted. A conversion could be a web event, like an online purchase, or a consumer entering a pre-set location (such as the advertiser’s brick-and-mortar store). 

Here’s a glimpse at AdQuick’s attribution dashboard:


Along with providing conversion data, AdQuick maps out the time frame between conversions and the exposure frequency to help users understand their customer journey. 

Measure incrementality with MMM

Attribution analysis is a powerful tool for estimating OOH campaigns’ impact on users with trackable device IDs, but it doesn’t capture your ad’s entire audience. Marketing mix modeling (MMM) empowers teams to see their OOH ads’ overall incremental impact on their target metric, whether that’s impressions or website traffic. 

MMM is a type of statistical analysis that finds the correlation between your OOH ad impressions and your target metric. 

While any data scientist can build this model, we don’t recommend the in-house route. Your scientist will need to spend the bulk of their time maintaining the model, and chances are their expertise isn’t in MMM.

Instead, let an analytics partner like Paramark fully handle your MMM. We’ll build the model and provide the following:

  • Constant reporting on your OOH’s incremental impact (i.e., an estimate of how your target metric would perform with and without your OOH campaign)

  • Marketing budget recommendations based on each channel’s performance, including OOH

  • Forecasting for OOH ad performance

  • Model checks to make sure the MMM has enough data and is generating accurate results

Conduct lift analysis with testing

Attribution analysis and MMM both provide estimates of your OOH campaigns’ impact. Run marketing experiments to confirm how these ads are impacting your target metric. 

This testing compares two regions that are nearly identical in terms of their target customer makeup, except that the OOH campaign will be in one of the regions. This setup isolates the OOH ad’s impact, so your marketing team knows it’s responsible for any lift in your target metric. Lattice’s marketing team, for example, measured the uplift in website traffic after launching billboards in different cities. 

It sounds simple, but there’s a lot of room for error. The most common marketing experiment mistakes we see are incorrectly setting up controls, solely focusing on short-term gains, and choosing target metrics that don’t fit the test design. 

Paramark fully handles incrementality testing for marketing teams so they know their experiment results are accurate and reliable. The platform correctly sets up testing, offers forecasting and budget recommendations based on experiments, and integrates this data with companies’ MMM.

Analyze engagement with OOH’s digital elements

Place digital elements—like QR codes, URLs, and SMS codes—in OOH ads to track individual interactions. 


AdQuick automatically monitors engagement results with these elements in its dashboards, so users don’t have to track each interaction manually. 

Conduct market research 

Assess your OOH campaign’s impact on brand awareness and perception by running surveys with your target audience. You can conduct these questionnaires on your own, hire a research agency, or use your OOH advertising platform. AdQuick, for example, designs surveys for its users and measures the lift in brand awareness between consumers exposed to OOH ads and a control group. 

Along with surveying customers, check how your OOH campaign influences social mentions for your brand. Work with your advertising platform to track the lift in social mentions between consumers who saw your OOH campaign and those who didn’t. 

AdQuick can also analyze OOH-related social mentions with its one-of-a-kind image recognition software. This technology allows the platform to assess how frequently specific OOH designs are shared on social media. 

Refine and repeat

Using the insights pulled from these measurement techniques, adjust your OOH ad practices for future campaigns. For example, your team might learn that billboards don’t produce a significant traffic lift in the Midwest, but they do in East Coast cities. 

You don’t need to wait until your brand’s next nationwide billboard campaign to test your hypotheses. Smaller OOH mediums like bus benches and taxi cab advertising screens may be more feasible in the short term.

OOH advertising is accessible to every brand with AdQuick + Paramark

Going back to our initial Airtable example, all too many marketing teams end their OOH ambitions when a campaign isn’t a clear win. And we get it—OOH is a significant investment, so marketers need to see at least some return. 

That's why we've partnered with AdQuick. Connecting our two platforms lets you find the best OOH deals from ad vendors and confidently measure these campaigns. You'll also clearly see OOH ROI and highlight how businesses can generate additional revenue with these ads.

Interested in seeing Paramark measure your OOH campaigns? Book a demo today.