REALITY CHECK: Outdoor vs Digital Ads

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Is online advertising all its cracked up to be? Let’s set aside the privacy issues that dominate the news and the frustration online ads cause us every day. Let’s look purely at effectiveness. A landmark study by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) recently revealed that as few as 8% of online advertising impressions, a marketing word for “times an ad was displayed,” were actually seen by real people.

So, what about the other 92%? All those impressions fell into one (or more) of the following buckets.

  • 62% of impressions were generated by “bots,” bits of online compute code that moves around the web.
  • 54% were non-viewable (displayed off-screen, never loaded successfully, etc)
  • and, the OAAA found that 25% of reported impressions were just plain fraud!

Take a look at these graphs. They perfectly illustrate the marks of fraudulent traffic. In the experiment below, the OAAA made two websites. was advertised only on outdoor ad space. As you can see, its web traffic followed a clear ebb and flow from day to night, exactly what you would expect from real, human, users. People do need to sleep, after all! The second website,, was advertised online. It’s traffic showed none of the very human characteristics we see in the first graph.

At the end of the day, real people spend money, bots don’t… that’s why more and more businesses are choosing the proven strategy of targeted out-of-home advertising. 100% of outdoor advertising impressions are seen by real people. It seems a little crazy to even say that’s a feature, but that’s the so-called “modern” world of digital advertising! And, out-of-home is now more measurable than ever. In fact, BillboardsIn is happy to help you measure the success of your outdoor campaign.

Here’s an example of what you can expect to see when you use affordable, reliable and real outdoor ads:

  • outdoor ad are 3X more efficient than TV, radio and print at driving online search activity.
  • 23% of people exposed to outdoor ads use their mobile device to search for more information (vs. 16% for other media)
  • Outdoor ads deliver the most value (in terms of cost-per-thousand impressions) of any type of advertising

No wonder outdoor advertising has seen years of sustained growth while other “traditional” types of advertising have declined.

Questions about how to create a great campaign for your business or cause? Contact us.