The holidays have a way of creeping up on even the most organized among us, and yet here we are again — already looking ahead to the 2021 holiday season. For advertisers, the time frame from the start of October (or even earlier) through the end of the year presents a unique opportunity to drive sales spikes and impressive revenue results.
But, did you know that out-of-home (OOH) ads can play a starring role in this pivotal season? Here are some tips for making the most out of outdoor advertising, just in time for the holiday rush.
1. Decide on your goal: Awareness or direct response
Advertising campaigns generally lean toward one of two distinct objectives. The first is increasing general brand awareness, to keep your company top of mind with customers and leave a positive impression they’ll remember later.
The second is driving a direct response — often sales. Before you plan your holiday ads, you must decide which end game aligns with your strategy so you know how to craft your campaigns.
If you’re aiming for awareness, prioritizing high-impact ad formats, securing broad reach and ensuring high frequency are effective strategies.
You also should strive to design memorable advertising creative that truly stands out. Spotify’s “Wrapped” campaign from 2019 is a good example. The streaming giant used a creative ad series, with one showing a visual representation of the extent to which subscribers’ streams of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” had increased over time. The idea was clever and attention-grabbing, and tied into one of the holiday season’s biggest songs of all time.
If you’re hoping to generate sales, instead, your OOH strategies will differ.
One approach that works especially well is using point-of-interest targeting to identify ad units positioned near your store locations, those of your retail partners, or even those of your competitors. For example, you could buy OOH media that’s outside of — or on the way to — your physical store locations, and use the ads to highlight a limited time, seasonal product. Then, you can measure incremental lift in your store’s sales to gauge your ad’s effectiveness.
Either way, it’s important to know what you’re hoping to get viewers to do (or think) after they see your ad, so you can successfully plan it.
2. Design with intention
Then comes the fun part: the actual design. There are some unique best practices to keep in mind when you craft an outdoor advertisement. First, keep the focus singular. You only have a few seconds with most OOH formats, and people can only read and absorb so much in that time. Keep your message simple — ideally seven words or less — and use graphics and images that exude the holiday spirit and the parts of the season people love most.
Second, make sure your logo or brand name and website are all clearly visible. You don’t want to pique someone’s interest and then fail to get them in your doors simply because they couldn’t see which company ran the ad.
Third, consider the context. If you use an ad partner that offers an interactive, map-based platform, make sure to view the immediate surroundings of your OOH ad unit. This will help you make sure your ad graphics and copy jive with the nearby area, while also ensuring they still get noticed.
3. Measure your campaign effectiveness
Whether you’re pursuing awareness or direct response objectives, it’s important to measure your campaign performance. And today, the granularity and sophistication of OOH measurement can be on par with that of digital advertising.
With the right platform, advertisers have access to unit-level ad exposure data and data quantifying a variety of conversion events for OOH ad campaigns. This means you can connect the dots between that unit-level exposure and conversion events like real-world foot traffic, mobile and web traffic, app downloads and even in-store purchases.
Certain platforms also make it easy to isolate the performance of individual campaign attributes (like specific ad formats, ad sizes, publishers, markets and creatives), so you can optimize your OOH campaign mid-flight. This is especially important during the holiday season, when you only have a limited amount of time to influence holiday shoppers.
The holiday season is always magical, for shoppers and advertisers alike. You can add to the magic by creating a seasonal ad that accomplishes your business’ goals while also helping consumers achieve theirs. It really is the most wonderful time of the year — and often the most lucrative, too.
Matthew O’Connor is the CEO and cofounder of AdQuick, the first platform to allow brands, agencies and individuals to complete the entire process of planning, buying, executing and measuring out-of-home (OOH) advertising campaigns anywhere in the US and around the globe.