How to Use Outdoor Media to Drive Traffic Online

How to Use Outdoor Media to Drive Traffic Online

Many people today think that traditional advertising channels like outdoor media, if not dead, are rapidly dying.

Nothing could be further from the truth

I have worked almost exclusively in online marketing for more than a decade, but I got my start in traditional advertising almost twenty years ago. During that time, I’ve watched online marketing, first dismissed as a fad by the older generations, rapidly become a top priority for nearly every serious businesses. I’ve also watched outdoor media be dismissed by the younger generations who mistakenly believe online is all that matters.

The fact is that while online marketing today is a necessity, and it’s becoming more even important every single day, outdoor media is still a powerful and cost-effective marketing channel for almost any type of business.

Window signage

window signage

It’s hard to beat window signage because it’s a cost-effective way to turn your own storefront windows into a billboard.

Printed on perforated window film and installed by professional installers, window signage presents your marketing message to approaching customers and passers-by, is inexpensive enough to change each year, and still allows you to see out.

Vehicle wraps

vehicle wraps

Whether parked in front of your business or driving around town, a vehicle wrap acts as a powerful mobile billboard, attracting a ton of attention to your business.

You’re usually looking at an investment of just a few thousand dollars, and the installation takes about a day. Vehicle wraps are printed on a heavy-duty, laminated vinyl can withstand the most brutal weather conditions for about 5 years.

Personally, I think this is a medium every business owner should take advantage of because it give you the opportunity to put your name, logo, and website on the street every single day for a relatively small one-time investment.

Street furniture

street furniture

Street furniture lets you connect with potential customers by advertising on benches, transit shelters, kiosks, parking garages, and urban panels, to name just a few options.

This medium utilizes printed advertising installed in high-traffic areas and offers the ability to target your message to the ideal people. For example, services like debt consolidation or credit repair would probably convert better when advertised on transit shelters in lower-income neighborhoods, while services like financial planning or home theater installation would generally convert better when advertised through higher-income venues like the parking garage of an art museum.

Some street furniture advertising is offered by large outdoor media companies that offer billboard advertising, but a lot of it is controlled by smaller, independent companies.



This is the granddaddy of outdoor media, and usually the first one that comes to most people’s mind.

Billboards offer tremendous exposure due to their size and location, but that exposure comes at a high price. They tend to require a much larger investment than other mediums, and they aren’t a good fit for every business, so you’ll need to weigh your options carefully.

You are probably familiar with the huge 10′ x 40′ billboards that line the interstate, but there are also smaller billboards available in even the tiniest towns, so be sure to ask what sizes are available in your area.

Outdoor digital

digital billboard

Tampa, Florida was one of the first markets to offer digital billboards just a few years ago, and today, they are rapidly spreading across the country.

This offer all of the benefits of a traditional billboard, with the added impact of a bright, digital LED display (kind of like your television at home, but a lot larger) and the ability to change you message as frequently as you like—even several times throughout the day!

How to drive traffic online with outdoor media

  • Focus on directing people to your website where you can collect their email address and share more information.
  • Include a QR code so that people can scan it with a mobile device and be sent directly to your website. No one is going to type your URL on a tiny phone while driving.
  • Make sure your company name and logo are easily identifiable so they can search later if necessary.
  • Keep both sentences and words short to improve comprehension. People will see your message briefly or while driving.
  • Use large, clean, sans serif fonts. They are more legible.
  • Use a phone number that spells something because it’s easier to remember than digits.
  • Forget about whitespace. (OK, not entirely, but you have more leeway than with other print mediums.)
  • Be bold and simple. What works on a fancy brochure will not work on a billboard or vehicle wrap.
  • View a printed version (8.5″ x 11″) from 15′ away to simulate viewing a billboard from the road.
  • View it for just 5 seconds to simulate driving past a billboard.

Text legibility chart

Distance in Feet Print Resolution Resolution Examples Minimal Text Height in Inches Minimal Discernible Text for Disclaimers
5′ – 50′ High LCD Malls, Airports, Retail, Lobbies, Office etc. 1″ – 2″ 1″ – 2″
50′ – 100′ High 6mm-12mm Window, Street Display, Drive through 2″ – 4″ 2″ – 4″
100′ – 200′ Normal 12mm-18mm Posters, Surface Streets 4″ – 8″ 4″ – 6″
200′ – 300′ Normal 18mm-20mm Posters, Surface Streets and highway bulletins 8″ – 10″ 6″
300′ – 350′ Normal 20mm-24mm Highway Bulletins, Highway Posters 10″ – 15″ 6″
350′ – 500′ Normal 24mm Highways, Spectaculars 15″ – 20″ 8″
500′ – 600′ Low – Normal 24mm Highways, Spectaculars, Stadiums 20″ – 24″ 8″
600′ + Low 30+ mm Skyscrapers, Spectaculars, Set back from road 24″ – 40″ 9″
Note: Readability is also dependent on color contrast. Higher contrasts will allow smaller text size. Complicated backgrounds behind text will also reduce readability.