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What Is Outdoor Media Advertising?

Jen Ainoa
Jen Ainoa

Outdoor media advertising may bring to mind a simple sign or billboard, but there is actually an entire industry built around this unique form of marketing. Anything used outdoors to convey an advertising message is outdoor media advertising. One place that is known for its amazing array of outdoor media advertising is Las Vegas, Nevada. Visually interesting signs, projected videos, light shows, and posters cover entire sides of buildings and even adorn the sides of buses and taxis in that city.

The most common form of outdoor media advertising is a simple sign or poster announcing a product or service available to the public. Park benches and the exterior windows and walls of businesses are also frequently used as locations for hanging banners or attaching professionally produced signs. Many times, a utility pole will be plastered with simple, paper announcements of garage sales, directions to a neighborhood party, or upcoming events, such as the performance of a local band.

Las Vegas is famous for outdoor media advertising, particularly signs for casinos on the Strip.
Las Vegas is famous for outdoor media advertising, particularly signs for casinos on the Strip.

Unusual, fun, and creative forms of outdoor media advertising are used in a number of places. One such unique form is an airplane trailing along a large banner announcing anything from special sales to marriage proposals. Car dealerships may put up huge, inflatable characters, like giant gorillas or dancing columns, as a lure to attract customers. Colorful flags and balloons are also used. For events like a carnival or fair, large spotlights may be used to illuminate the night sky and attract the public.

Not all places are open to outdoor media advertising. The island state of Hawaii, for example, has laws prohibiting billboards because large signs detract from the ocean and mountain views. Many neighborhoods in cities all over the world also ban the use of fliers and signs, as they can create an untidy appearance. Other cities go to the opposite extreme, however, and new posters are placed over the old ones, leaving a veritable history trail of the events over the past few months or years.

Neon signs, projected videos, and elaborate screens are among the more high-tech forms of outdoor media advertising. These signs dot the roadside along major highways and light up the night sky for major event arenas. These bright, colorful, signs are even used to alert drivers of hazards in the road ahead. Outdoor media advertisement such as this is intended to instill a feeling of a high quality business or product in consumers, but not all consumers may appreciate the effort.

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Discussion Comments


A friend of mine wanted to try some outdoor media advertising for his vintage records and thrift store. The outdoor advertising agencies in town sent him a lot of creative outdoor advertising ideas, but he was worried about the cost. He finally decided to get a static billboard ad placed at a busy intersection near a high school. He figured a lot of his potential customers were in their late teens or early twenties.

He did seem to get a spike in visits after that sign went up. I think he would probably do even better with an electronic billboard that could be animated with a spinning record or something.


When I was a kid, outdoor media mostly meant billboards along the highway and big signs outside stores. I didn't know what to think when local car dealerships started using inflatable animals and spotlights and helium balloons. It seemed a little cheesy to someone my age.

Now the newest thing in outdoor media advertising are those huge electronic billboards that change messages every 30 seconds or so. Our city government allowed one to be put up on a busy street as an experiment, then approved it for other outdoor advertising agencies. They had to make sure the signs were too distracting for drivers, however. At least I get to see different advertisements every time I drive by one of those billboards.

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    • Las Vegas is famous for outdoor media advertising, particularly signs for casinos on the Strip.
      By: Elnur
      Las Vegas is famous for outdoor media advertising, particularly signs for casinos on the Strip.