How effective is outdoor advertising?

Imagine a city without the colourful billboards, bus q-shelters, posters, kiosks, etc.
Don’t the city look dull and lifeless?
Yes, outdoor advertising plays a major role in the look of the city but have you ever thought how effective this outdoor advertising is? Are there any tools available to measure its response?
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The outdoor advertising business looks huge with innovations in this field from time to time. Any marketing campaign is incomplete without the use of outdoor advertising. Even TV channels use this medium to promote their new/existing programmes. These days, billboards of reality show ‘Indian idol’ by Sony Television can be seen in almost every part of all Indian cities.

These billboards are strategically placed at high-traffic zones where the chances of getting attention are highest. Such locations are even charged at a premium. But, just being in the high-traffic zone doesn’t means that everybody who passes by would notice and actually read the billboard. This depends on various factors like inviting visual, the time actually spent near the billboard, overall look of the billboard, readability of the text, etc.

So, what is the perfect way to measure the success of outdoor advertising? Ever heard the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology for outdoor ratings? Well, US-based Nielsen Outdoor released the outdoor ratings data using GPS technology.

For those who are not familiar with GPS technology, here’s a little info on that. The GPS is currently the only fully functional Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Utilizing a constellation of at least 24 medium Earth orbit satellites that transmit precise radio signals, the system enables a GPS receiver to determine its location, speed and direction. GPS has become a widely used aid for navigation, and a useful tool for map-making, land surveying, commerce, and scientific uses. More recently, as we mentioned earlier, GPS is now used for outdoor advertising measurement.

Nielsen Outdoor, in association with US-based RDP Associates, developed Npod (Nielsen Personal Outdoor Device), which is about the size of a cell phone. This device is linked to the GPS satellite 24×7.

For the survey, Nielsen Outdoor gave Npods to a cross-section of people who carried it with them whenever they travelled. The company then monitored their location relative to the location of outdoor signs and the time when they passed them and their speed. With such information, Nielsen estimates how many people would have actually seen the ad. With this concise data, advertisers can actually calculate the number of people tapped by their advertising, their gender, age, etc which will help them to calculate their return on investment.

Hence, advertisers can benefit from this information as they can quantify the number of people who have actually seen their advertising message.

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