Outdoor advertising includes various types of promotional displays, from highway billboards to transit posters and arena placement, all geared towards communicating a message to the public. The message might be to buy a product, take a trip, vote for a politician, or give to a charity. It might even be a public service announcement. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Inc. (OAAA), businesses spent $5.8 billion dollars on outdoor displays in 2004, a figure expected to rise again in 2005.
In part, the OAAA attributes continuing success of outdoor advertising to the fact that, while diversified forms of media have splintered audiences of traditional venues like newsprint and radio, automobile traffic continues to grow. Tens of millions of Americans commute each day, by some estimates covering over three trillion miles annually. Strategically placed advertising guarantees substantial exposure for very little investment, comparatively speaking. This makes it very cost-effective.
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There are many kinds of outdoor advertising choices. Eateries and hotels commonly make use of highway billboards to steer customers in for a rest or a bite. The automobile and tourism industries account for a very large percentage of billboard revenue. Bus benches often feature ads for local businesses, while bus shelters might display a major movie promotion. Beverage companies commonly make use of sporting events and arenas, among other venues, while taxicabs, buses, railways, subways and wall murals offer other forms of promotion.
The OAAA divides outdoor venues into four major categories: Billboard revenue accounted for over half of the advertising pie in 2004, transit system or mobile advertising and advertising on public furniture made up approximately another 30%, and alternative advertising brought in the last percentage points of the 5.8 billion spent to catch the eye of the outgoing public.
Though it may seem like outdoor advertising is for big players, small local businesses account for most advertisers. Rates vary according to the type of advertisement, size, location and duration.