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Mary Pomerantz

Outdoor Advertising Association Pokes Holes in Digital Ads

Mary Pomerantz

Ms. Pomerantz has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Mary Pomerantz Advertising for the past twenty five years. She was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of Pomerantz Staffing, which grew to be one of the largest privately-owned staffing companies in the US under her leadership.

person holding a shattered smartphone in their hands

Outdoor Advertising Association Pokes Holes in Digital Ads

scale showing laptop for digital advertising even with billboard for outdoor advertisingIndustry experts and thought-leaders have been writing the obituaries for traditional advertising mediums like print and out of home (OOH) since the 1990s. It was then that the advertising community realized that the Internet was here to stay and that the digital revolution was upon us. Over 20 years later, traditional advertising like outdoor advertising hasn’t gone anywhere, and it seems that digital marketing is not all that it was cracked up to be.

This was certainly the stance taken by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) in its newly released white paper as part of the “Feel the Real” campaign. The white paper was created to drive home the benefits of outdoor advertising and highlight some of the egregious failures of digital marketing.[1]

The paper, titled “This is What Reality Looks Like,” highlights some of the drawbacks of digital marketing and the benefits of OOH. It also chronicles an experiment involving the donation of unsold advertising inventory in popular locations, designed to prove how OOH can be successfully integrated with digital marketing.

Digital’s Reality Problem

map of the U.S. with criss crossing lines to represent internet traffic and 61.5 percent comes from botsOne of the main criticisms the OAAA had about digital marketing is the cavernous gap between its reported effectiveness and its actual effectiveness. The somewhat whimsical question the organization asked was: “If a bot clicks on a non-viewable ad, does the ad blocker hear it?” This rhetorical and sarcastic question was highlighting that a large portion of digital ads are never actually seen by humans, but instead by software applications programmed to run automated tasks at high speeds, otherwise known as bots.

  • In 2013, 54 percent of online display ads were non-viewable. This meant that the banner ads did not load in time to be seen, were below the fold or less than 50 percent viewable on the screen.[2]
  • 61.5 percent of all Internet traffic is bot traffic.[3]
  • 40 percent of the world’s Internet users have installed ad blockers.[4]
  • As little as 8 percent of digital impressions are ever actually seen by a real person.[5]
  • Non-viewability is estimated to have wasted $7.5 billion of the $14 billion advertisers spent on digital ads in 2013.[6]
  • It is estimated that bot fraud will costs businesses around the world $7.2 billion in 2016.[7]

OOH Makes Digital Real Experiment

The OAAA’s advertising campaign was designed to show how OOH marketing can enhance digital.

As noted in OAAA’s white paper, an experiment was conducted that utilized outdoor advertising locations in major U.S. markets to target media companies. Using the baseline slogan: “This Ad is Real,” the OAAA plastered the nation with a sea of customized messages. These messages ranged from targeting markets, landmarks, locations, mediums, agencies and even specific people. Each advertisement featured the website:, as well as a series of binary codes as a not so veiled shot at digital marketing.

Sample Messages:

  • “This Mobile Ad is Real” (alongside a bus)
  • “Sit On This Ad, It’s Real” (on a park bench)
  • “The Traffic to This Ad is Real” (on a heavily used highway)
  • “The Longer You Wait For The Bus, The More Real This Ad Gets” (at a bus shelter)

illustration of various types of outdoor advertising showing billboard, bus, bus stop, benchWhat made the experiment a success was the response to the campaign. The organization reported that 40 percent of the individuals who went to as a result of the ad were among the core targets – marketing and advertising professionals. An astounding 85 percent of the visitors who accessed the site did so after seeing the outdoor advertising campaign. Most importantly, all traffic generated as a result of the outdoor advertisement campaign were actual humans, instead of bots.1

How Valuable Is OOH Advertising?

illustration of a lot of vehnicles stuck in traffic and forced to view outdoor advertising on a billboard Out of home marketing is the oldest style of advertising and is the one medium that can’t be turned off. A person can change the radio station, switch the television channel, turn the pages of a magazine or newspaper and bypass digital ads using an ad blocker. But how would a person waiting for a bus turn the channel or change the page on an advertisement in the bus shelter? How would commuters manage to ignore a massive billboard on their way to work or home?

Here are some other advantages:

  • 23 percent of people exposed to OOH use their mobile device to search for more information vs. 16 percent for other media.[8]
  • OOH is nearly three times better at driving online search activity than TV, radio or print.[9]
  • The average consumer spends 19.6 hours per week with OOH, higher than any other medium other than television.[10]

Very few people of any age simply sit in the house all day, every day. The fact is that most people go to work and/or school, travel, go out on weekends and spend a large portion of their time outside of their home. The most cost-effective way to reach these people is often through OOH marketing.

Digital Is Not All Bad

While the OAAA was not shy about pointing out the shortcomings of digital marketing, it was not discrediting the medium completely. It was simply stating that OOH marketing and digital advertising could work hand in hand. By the end of 2017, it is expected that global digital ad spend will exceed television advertising, ending the medium’s 60-year reign as king of advertising.[11]

Effective advertising often requires a cohesive mix of multiple mediums, including print, OOH, broadcast and digital.

Digital marketing offers considerable advantages, including affordability, near limitless reach and increased ability to measure and collect data. Add in the fact that 64 percent of Americans now own smartphones,[12] and that there are more than 1 billion tablet users worldwide,[13] and it becomes impossible to ignore the impact of digital marketing.

Effective advertising often requires a cohesive mix of multiple mediums, including print, OOH, broadcast and digital.

Allow Us to Guide Your Advertising Efforts

Your marketing strategy heavily depends on the type of business you have and the consumer demographics you’re trying to reach. Understanding which mediums to use and how to maximize their value is the key to achieving your advertising and revenue goals. For over a quarter of a century, Mary Pomerantz Advertising has helped businesses of all sizes define and promote their brands and reach their target audiences.

No matter what your advertising goals include, we will assist you in creating an effective marketing campaign across multiple channels to help you succeed. When it comes to your advertising, trust the pros. Call 732-214-9600 today to learn more.







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