Outdoor Advertising Association Wants Agencies to Know Billboards Are Seen By Real People, Not Bots

Acknowledging that upwards of half -- depending upon whom you ask -- or more online ads are consumed by bots rather than living, breathing human beings, the Outdoor Advertising Association has launched an campaign touting the fact that billboards, unlike current-day online ads, are seen by actual human beings.

The new campaign, called Feel the Real, carries the headline, "This Ad Is Real." Launched to coincide with Advertising Week, the campaign aims to remind people the medium is alive and well and still working hard for advertisers. 

Other headlines on posters and kiosks include "You are consuming this advertisement. You are real" and, with a jab at today's online first mentality, "Media planners, do you have a reality problem?"

Several ads are placed close to ad agencies and are customized specifically for the individual agency. For example, a billboard that appears outside Ogilvy & Mather New York reads, “Hey, Shelly, does this ad feel real to you?” referring, of course, to the agency's Chairman Emeritus Shelly Lazarus.

Of the campaign, Matt Dowshen, president of PNYC which created the ads, said, “In a world where digital and its ability to deliver what it promises is under significant scrutiny, out-of-home has a unique and compelling point of view that having one foot grounded in the real world matters.”

The campaign points to a website (ironically meta?) on which viewers are asked the question, "Did you see one of our out-of-home ads?" That's followed by four options, “Yes, I saw it in the real world,” “Yes, I saw it online,” “No, I heard about it,” and “No, I’m a robot.”

What with the rampant furor over ad blockers making the rounds recently, this particular campaign might actually garner some awareness for the dusty, old outdoor ad medium.



3 comments about "Outdoor Advertising Association Wants Agencies to Know Billboards Are Seen By Real People, Not Bots".
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  1. B Baer from baerboards, September 28, 2015 at 11:47 p.m.

    "... for the dusty, old outdoor ad medium."  Richard, if I had not been in the business for as long as I have, I might be offended by your reference.  But I love it and the sense of humor. We'll take this clean and very green, as in $$, old outdoor ad medium to the bank. 

  2. Robert Ceier from TMS Inc, September 29, 2015 at 9:35 a.m.

    One of the biggest ad blockers to billboards is everyones phone. Billboards primarily designed for passengers have lost about 70% of their effect. In addition many drivers are too busy texing and in some cases watching the road to even view  billboard ads.   How many passengers in any vehicle today are looking out their window? IoT.

  3. Jonathan Saylor from Lamar Advertising, September 30, 2015 at 4:27 p.m.

    Quite the contrary. If you refer to some of the largest media survey groups such as Nielsen and Arbitron, you will find that in fact, 58% of consumers report consciously looking at Out-Of-Home Advertising. We can all agree that too many drivers are distracted by their cell phones, dashboard entertainment, navigation, etc; however, in recent surveys, 75% of Americans responded as having seen a billboard or transit advertisement within the past month.

    The unfortunate nature of the industry is that there are outdoor companies who still inflate their impressions, provide 2-way traffic counts, and tell you that everyone sees your billboard ad.  Fortunately for media buyers and customers alike, Lamar Advertising has set their company apart in the OOH industry with several new aspects of measurement.  Beyond using independently audited traffic counts, they go one step further by implementing weighted visibilty factors.  We can all agree that drivers are distracted.  We also know that there are factors that affect an ad's visibility, such as: panel size, illumination, height, distance and left to right position.  Lamar accounts for these measures, and with a weighted calculation, provides a more realistic perspective on how many times an ad is actually being seen each week.  Often times, these numbers will end up lower than a competitor's, but what is important is the honesty, accuracy and integrity of impressions that are being reported to an agency or client.

    I think we can all agree on a few things. No matter what radio stations we're tuned into, which TV shows we watch (or don't watch), which HULU subscriptions we have, or magazines we read... If you put 100 people in a room and asked them about their media habits, they would all have varying answers to some degree. Within the next week, however, there is a good chance that 99 out of 100 people are going to get in their car and go somewhere... along the way, there is a equally great chance they will pass a billboard ad, and unless they're driving with their eyes closed or looking at a mobile device, the chances of seeing a billboard ad are signinficant. In fact, we know from the BrandScience Global Econometrics study that the average ad retention for OOH advertising within a week is 55%.  Since most billboards are up for at least 4-weeks, I believe it would be a fair assumption to say that this number will be greater upon completion of a successful campaign.  All said, outdoor advertising is a tried and true media for those seeking traditional advertising that is targeted, cost-effective, proven and here to stay.


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