OOH vs Online Media: How They Compare across Three Key Metrics


Digital and out-of-home (OOH) or place-based media remain the fastest growing media channels by spend. The two mediums are vastly different by nature - online and offline. However, one could argue that their growth is being driven by the same factor - increasing consume mobility. 

Mobile advertising is driving digital's growth. Smartphones are also responsible for the increased amount of time consumers spend outside their homes exposed to various forms of outdoor media. But how do the two compare when it comes to viewability, measurement, and brand perception?

There is no denying the dominance of online marketing for brands. Nevertheless, in an industry that undergoes constant disruption and innovation, marketers are wary of it’s ability to continue delivering on ad effectiveness.

Although online advertising has overtaken TV in terms of ad spend, factors like ad-fraud and transparency have come into play. Meanwhile, OOH media continues to perform in terms of quality engagement and reach.

Media planning and strategy are business decisions that involve important metrics. Viewability, measurement, and final brand perceptions are  key to media decisions. By exploring these 3 essential elements, it is easier to see how both online media and OOH compare.

  • Viewability: How is exposure delivered?

Digital audiences - ones with smartphones and other devices - are almost always exposed to online ads.  Be this as it may, does this mean they always see it?

Online viewership is battling with the challenges of ad blockers and bot farms. Ad fraud is also another issue that marketers have shown concern about - knowing whether or not an ad is being displayed to the right audiences is still vague. 

Ad clutter is also something that tends to happen with online media. In an attempt to grow exposure, ads quickly become ‘annoying’ and ‘intrusive’ which can severely hurt the reputation of a brand. This becomes an even bigger problem when brand messages are shown next to less tasteful content.

Meanwhile, OOH media benefits from naturally allowing consumers to engage with an ad entirely of their own participation. Billboards and media messages that are placed in high-traffic and strategic areas provide the best of both worlds - a strong brand presence and non-intrusive viewability!

  • Measurement: How is Data Collected?

The effectiveness of a campaign for both online and OOH media are measured ultimately by their reach and influence. Methods of measurement however, vary.

For instance, online media is a little more straightforward to track – since audiences would leave some sort of digital footprint here. Be this as it may, methods of collecting data here is still subject to forms of regulation and really dependent on the platform. There has been a recent backlash against the self-reporting standards of advertising giants like Google and Facebook. 

OOH media on the other hand, does require higher involvement to measuring audiences and, unlike online advertising, does not have set evaluation standards.

However, this is certainly changing as billboard providers strive for a bigger share of media spends. Location-based digital footprints left via traffic apps, smartphones, and social media are being used to measure consumer movement. When mapped against billboards, it can become a proxy for the number and type of audiences passing by these physical ads. 

  • Brand Perception: Which Leaves More Room for Impact?

One thing that marketers stay away from is putting all of their eggs into one basket. There is a growing demand for so-called "360" marketers. This is also a major reason an increasing number of brands are taking media duties in-house rather than depending on specialised agencies. 

It is without a doubt that most audiences spend increasing amounts of time online – but that does not mean that 100% of efforts should be poured into online ads!

Frequent exposure to online ads will in time, decrease their efficacy. This logic is adopted by successful brands and marketers out there; who understand the importance of delegated media planning.

Although an oversaturation of any form of advertising would hurt the brand perception of a company, OOH media is generally more natural.

In fact, research shows that OOH is ideal for complimenting existing campaigns using other media channels. Adding OOH to a mobile advertising campaign, for example, can increase the campaign reach by more than 300%.

Marketers would do well to remind themselves that advertising is usually not a game of popularity. Whilst there might be a whole chunk of brands opting for the clutter of online media; it would work in their favour to prioritise dynamic experiences rather than the most exposures possible. Quantity over quality – every single time.

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