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Can Outdoor Advertising Bring In Local Bookings?

Out-of-home (OOH) advertisements can seem a bit old fashioned. You might wonder why anyone would pay for a billboard that will be seen by daily commuters when you can reach the entire Internet with your web ads.

But billboards and bus shelters still have their place in local advertising. In some cases, they might even complement your online bookings better than web ads can and drive local bookings.

Today’s customers come equipped with smartphones, and they aren’t afraid to use them. So where once OOH ads needed to compel viewers to either make a phone call on the spot or remember an ad hours or days later, now viewers can simply search for your company when an ad interests them. This might not be as quick a path as online advertising, but there are a few caveats to that quicker path:

  • Ad-blockers are endemic, enabled by about 47% of internet users.
  • Internet users are over-saturated with ads.
  • You have little say over where your ads are posted.

There are benefits to online ads, of course—accurate analytics, granular targeting and lower expense among them—but they aren’t universally ideal.

That may be part of the reason why OOH advertising revenue was up 4.5 percent in the US last year, bringing in a record $8 billion. A quarter of the biggest OOH advertisers are from the tech sector, with Apple, Netflix and Google taking some of the top spots. Major tourism campaigns also make heavy use of OOH advertising.

While tech giants have the budget for massive, stunning campaigns, you can do a lot with less. You might need to think beyond billboards, but they’re far from the only OOH option.

There are many other places you’ll find OOH advertising:

  • Bus shelters
  • News racks
  • Mall kiosks
  • Transit ads
  • Digital networks

Depending on your goals, any of these might be a good target for a tour & activities campaign. If you want to bring people directly into your location, billboards and outdoor advertising might be your best bet, as they’re particularly good at location-specific impact. If you want to bring people to your booking website, a digital network can catch them in moments when they have a smartphone and time to use it.

And OOH advertising does work. According to a study from COMMB and the University of Alberta, 57 percent of adults ages 18-64 have taken action that was prompted by OOH ads. Visiting websites is the most common response, so driving people to your booking website is a great approach.

If you’re going to invest in OOH advertising, here are a few tips:

  1. Start early. OOH ads are most effective 2-3 months out, so if you wait until your peak season to advertise, you’ll be missing out.
  2. Keep it simple. You have a brief window to catch people’s attention, so your creative should be bold and visual, with a simple call to action.
  3. Support your OOH campaign. Don’t let your investment end with a billboard or bus shelter. Support your campaign by carrying it through to your website, emails and social channels.
  4. Set goals. Just like any advertising endeavor, having a plan and setting KPIs will help you get the most from your budget.

OOH advertising can’t stand alone, but it can be a great companion to the tours and booking website you’ve put so much care into.

Written by

Nissa Campbell is an author and blogger who covers tourism and technology . Since 2014, she has been documenting booking software at Rezgo and working with tour operators at all levels of the industry to help them find solutions to their technical needs.

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