How Tech Companies Are Using Billboard Advertising

Tech companies like Google and Facebook have led the charge on the latest form of advertising online. These companies know their numbers and need a strong marketing effort in order to maintain their market share and brand awareness. So, where are they spending their own marketing dollars? What you find is that these companies and all of the top ten most valuable US brands are investing heavily in OOH (out-of-home) advertising. What are their reasons for doing this, and how are they going about it?

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Integration of the Real World and Digital World

Tech companies are pairing their mobile advertising efforts with OOH ads in order to drive consumer action. Because believe it or not, OOH drives more online activity than online banner ads. Yes, you read that right. This Nielsen study found that 46% of adults have searched a company online after seeing a billboard ad. Not only that by 40% have visited a facebook page after seeing an OOH ad compared to 32% who saw an online banner ad. No wonder why Facebook loves billboard advertising. Tech companies focus on great messaging that people will want to share on social media. There is no divide in these company’s minds for what makes great advertising. Utilizing technology and social media means taking advantage of the shareability of great billboard advertising.

Spotify recently ran a campaign with the Brookly Museum in honor of David Bowie. Alex Bodman, Spotify’s global executive creative director was stunned at the social buzz it generated. He said this about the award winning campaign, “If you do any outdoor campaign in a unique and creative way, all the people connected on their mobile phones will want to share it on social media,” he said. “Outdoor advertising can become social media.”

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It’s Only Growing and Getting Smarter

First, Outdoor advertising is growing, and it’s the only traditional marketing channel that is expected to grow this year as other forms of media contract under the pressure of high cost perm impression and technology that allows audience to skip or block advertising content. TV is being replaced by subscription video services like Netflix and Hulu, newspapers and magazines are being replaced by blogs and online search, and radio is being replaced by podcasts. Outdoor ads, however, are uniquely positioned in the real word, demanding the attention of anyone on the street.

Second, it’s getting smarter with geolocation data that is being made available through mobile devices, allowing OOH providers to use highly localized measurement.  Mobile devices allow advertisers to know where their target customer is, and at what time. This geofencing technology allows marketers to retarget the perfect ad to a consumer when they are in proximity to an outdoor ad.

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Brings Brands Into The Community

The biggest advantage of OOH is that it brings the brand into the space where the consumer lives and works. This creates a stronger bond by making it part of the community.

“Things that people can physically see and touch are much more believable”

Chris Garbutt, global chief creative officer for ad agency TBWA

This brand bond is achieved by targeting a very specific area and demographic. Billboards do this along with providing a wide reach and high frequency within that area. Spotify’s chief marketing officer Seth Farbman said, OOH ads have “hyperlocality that gives those ‘aha’ moments to people. It allows a digital community to feel connected in a physical way. This is happening here. We’re all seeing this and remembering this moment together.”


  • Facebook - ran a campaign around their new approach to user safety and privacy.

  • Spotify - took advantage of people’s desire to have their name up in lights with their wrapped campaign. This allowed users to share their top artists on giant billboards in iconic locations like Times Square.

  • Brex - This startup utilized billboards in order to keep customer acquisition cost down. They found that social media is often overpriced compared of OOH formats. One of Brex’s venture capital investors quipped that the billboard investment was great because it helped the company raise capital at a $1 billion valuation, but for this CEO cut it more clearly, “it was the best investment because it got us lots of customers”. For him he “didn’t even get a 1/10th of the customers” from social as he did from OOH.

If you’d like to see how billboard advertising can help grow your company, schedule a free consultation with one of our experts!