Media planning in OOH advertising

27.05.2018 Media planning in OOH advertising

When it comes to media planning, out-of-home advertising has its own specifics, because standard media planning tools in this case are inapplicable.


• OOH advertising has a great variety of forms and types. OOH advertising constructions differ in size, shape, location, material, way of image transmission etc. It is quite hard to compare the efficiency of the impact when advertising media is so different.

• OOH advertising efficiency depends on weather conditions, time of the day, season, location etc.

• OOH advertising is basically the only type of advertising that communicates the message to the target audience transit. In this situation problems of defining target audience and location of the advertising construction are quite important.

• Targeting is hard when it comes to OOH advertising, but at the same time it can help to communicate the message within a specific region or area. OOH advertising also offers large audience rotation and uncontrolled ad showing.

The quality of the impact of OOH advertising depends on its type and location. At the same time placement of OOH advertisements is comparatively cheap. The longer the placement period, the bigger audience you will cover and the more often your ad will be viewed. In the field of OOH advertising we usually speak about monthly coverage. The efficiency of the advertisement depends on the factors listed below. 

So, when making a media plan for an OOH ad campaign you should consider the following:

• Target audience (locations with biggest traffic flow)

1.1. Audience quality:

• Social and demographic parameters;

• Consumer preferences;

• Affinity index.

1.2. Audience quantity:

Mostly, measurement of efficiency of an OOH campaign is based on expected audience quantity, which the ad will have the impact on.

The main parameter is potential quantity of views or contacts (i.e. the quantity of people who will see the ad during a certain period of time – day, week or month).

The assessment of potential quantity of contacts is performed via measuring the total potential audience quantity for a certain ad space location. At the same time, sources of potential audience and its “flow rate” are also measured:

• private vehicles;

• public transport;

• freight transport;

• pedestrians.

The quantity of cars and public transport is converted into the quantity of people with the help of specific coefficients. The quantity of the audience is measured along the line of sight of the ad space at a distance, from which the text can easily be discerned. Total audience quantity per day is calculated via coefficients derived from the traffic flow measurements during specific time periods that represent circadian dynamics. Additional measurements for different days of the week and month help to calculate coefficients for measuring total audience quantity.

• Selection of an appropriate OOH media (according to its type, technical parameters etc)

2.1. Type (dynamic, static).

2.2. Form (billboard, banner, signage etc).

• static OOH

Separate advertising constructions (billboards, pillars, roller constructions);

Constructions mounted on buildings (roof tops, wallscapes, ad constructions on bus shelters etc.)

• temporary OOH

(advertisements on construction netting, wearable ad constructions (“man-sandwich”), advertisements on carts, kiosks, umbrellas etc).

2.3. Media format. Quantity of surfaces.

The bigger the surface, the greater the coefficient of attracting attention of the audience, and as a result, the bigger coverage of the target audience (supersites, wallscapes etc).

On the other hand, such types of OOH advertising as city-formats (1.2*1.8) (pillars, poles, HoReCa) are usually sold in packages (for example, a pole advertising package that includes 30 ad spaces). It is suitable for certain types of goods/services and provide more frequent contacts with the audience (mostly pedestrians).

2.4. Material

The type of material used for production of the advertisement has a great influence on its cost and its durability. For example, when placing an advertisement for 3 months it is not recommended to use paper, because the quality of the ad can be severely affected by weather conditions.

2.5. Lighting

Lighting makes it possible for the ad to be seen at night, which expands the coverage and the quantity of views.

• Selection of ad location. GRP analysis.

You should keep in mind that legislation regarding OOH advertising can be different in different cities. 

Main zones. Usually, the territory of a big city is divided into three zones – historical zone, special city zone and common city zone. The requirements to OOH advertisements for these three zones are different.

1) Historical zone:

• territories adjoining historical or architectural sights and art objects, as well as monuments and religious objects;

• architectural or historical buildings and sights;

• natural sanctuaries and natural sights, or parks and gardens of certain cultural value.

Usually placement of OOH advertisements in historical zone is not allowed, or can only be performed on a temporary basis, for example, on construction netting or fencing etc.

2) Special city zone:

• main roads;

• squares adjoining main roads;

• railway station squares;

• areas around government buildings.

Special city zones have certain requirements to the imagery of OOH advertisements, and certain types of OOH constructions that don’t comply with the architectural style of the city are prohibited.

3) Common city zone:

• all the other areas and territories of the city (city entrance and exit, suburbs etc).

The price of placement depends on the location of the ad space in one of these three zones. And ad spaces are divided into categories accordingly (first, second, third etc.).

Advertising agencies are offering OOH advertisement placements according to media plans. At the same time, there are usually several OOH advertising operators in the market, and constructions that provide the biggest coverage are usually unavailable. That’s why the advertiser needs to adjust their media plan in advance.

OOH advertising media planning can be performed according to one of the following location patterns:

• Spider web – the pattern implies that the billboards are located around the office of the company (advertiser), running through the city infrastructure. Usually, the closer to the office, the more dense the ads are located. Of course, this is also true for main roads. The model is absolutely inapplicable for companies that have their offices in the suburbs.

• Main road – the pattern implies that the billboards are located along the main road (with the heaviest traffic) of the city. There are two types of “Main road” pattern: one-sided (all billboards are looking in the same direction to create the greater impact on the audience) and two-sided (billboards are looking in one of the two directions of the traffic).

• Nests – the pattern implies that the ads are spread around the city in small clusters (nests) of several ad spaces. Usually the billboards are installed in the most crowded places: at the crossroads, near markets and squares.

• Expert – the pattern implies that the billboards are located in the best available spots. It is the most chaotic pattern and is regarded as the least effective from all the listed patterns, but sometimes ad campaigns are planned and performed in less than a month, and booking any decent locations in such a short period of time is basically impossible. So the advertising agent has nothing else to do but to select the best ones from those available.

Specifics of application of these patterns depend on the business scale of the advertiser, advertising budget and features of the advertised product or service. Using these patters you can cover different zones of the city, thus expanding the target audience coverage.

Media planning process also involves calculation of GRP (Gross Rating Point). This is one of the main factors that determine the cost of ad placements. This is the starting point for determining coverage/viewing frequency of an OOH ad.

GRP (Gross Rating Point) is the percent of an “opportunity to see” value (OTS) to the total quantity of the audience (population of the city older than 18).

Usually the ad space is bought on the basis of the GRP data per day, and the coverage/viewing frequency are calculated on a monthly basis.

Coverage/viewing frequency of an ad space is influenced by many factors, including:

• size of the ad space. Billboards 3*6m are usually more eye-catching than an A1 poster.

• location. For example, a billboard located along the main road will be seen by a greater number of people, than a poster on a side wall of a building.

• quantity of purchased GRPs. As with all other types of media, the greater the quantity, the greater the coverage and viewing frequency. 

In case the advertiser buys 100 GRPs every day, standard basic unit represents the quantity of posters that needs to be placed in a certain area to cover entire audience of this area on a daily basis. One rating point is equal to 1% of the entire audience (population of the area) at a given time. The GRP index is based on the accurate data about daily audience, as the main parameter of the percent of the audience. If four packages of posters located in a certain area will be viewed by 80000 people out of potential 100000, then the GRP index will be 80%.

• Calculation of the effective audience (views by the audience, or OTS – “opportunity to see”).

On the basis of the gross rating point and the specific area it was calculated for, you can calculate the quantity of views (or contacts), which is usually referred to as OTS (Opportunity To See). This parameter shows the quantity of times that consumers could have come in contact with your ad. It is calculated according to the following formula:

OTS = GRP * total quantity of potential viewers

Unlike GRP, OTS has a substantial value that allows assessing the impact of the campaign in terms of quantity of contacts with the audience. When calculating OTS, the possibility of a person viewing the ad several times on the same day is not taken into consideration. 

Thus, even a single traffic flow measurement can give you a total “gross”-audience. Not only does it omit the possibility of overlapping with audiences that might have seen the same ad in a different location, but also ignores repeated viewing of the ad by the same person.

As for the total quantity of the prospect audience, when selecting the type of the ad construction and assessing parameters of the location of the ad space, you need to adjust it for the part of the prospect audience that would actually be able to see the ad. These parameters include:

• turning angle

• transport location

• distance to the traffic light

• width of the road

• visibility distance

• “competitive” constructions

• possible visibility hindrances

These parameters are applied to each direction of traffic that the ad is “working” for (up to three directions for billboards located at crossroads).

Location of ad constructions is highly influenced by the direction of traffic. 

Here is the classification of traffic flow directions:

A – to the city center along radial roads;

B – from the city center along radial roads;

C – clockwise direction on ring roads;

D – counter-clockwise direction on ring roads.

These parameters are used as a system of decreasing coefficients and helps to calculate the quantity of effective audience (or OTS – opportunity to see), which is measured in 1000 people (or views). First of all, billboards or other advertising constructions are located in places where they could be seen by a maximum possible quantity of pedestrians and drivers. That’s why location in the visibility range of public gathering areas, such as bus stops, pedestrian crossings, kiosks, city sights etc., or near some objects that constrict the speed of the traffic, such as traffic lights, traffic police checkpoints, frequent traffic jams etc, is a huge bonus.

To make sure that the location is suitable for billboard installation, a video with fixed exposure is taken to calculate the quantity of pedestrians and cars passing by the location within a clear visibility distance. 

View point

It is important to take such parameters as view point and viewing angle into account. View points are to be considered when selecting location of the billboard. The best location is the place with the maximum view points. Viewing angle of a pedestrian in a crowd of people and a pedestrian in an empty street will be different. Viewing angle must be considered when designing the basement of an advertising construction and its height.

For example, you should measure the actual visible surface of the billboard against the calculated one. The billboard can be partly hidden behind trees, bushes or buildings. The angle of the surface of the billboard to the direction of the traffic and the height of the billboard above the ground are also to be considered.

Form and background

It is important to consider the background, in which the advertisement is placed and will be perceived by the audience, as it can have an enhancing or reducing effect on the ability of the advertisement to make an impact (examples of such background objects are visual media, advertisements located nearby, historical or architectural monuments etc). A billboard or any other advertising construction must stand out against the background of other ads or objects, and at the same time match the general style of the city landscape.

5. Calculation of minimal cost per view/contact with 1000 consumers (rating point).

Apart from OTS and GRP, there are also measurements of prospect audience per month and CPT – cost per 1000 views. This parameter shows the ratio of the ad campaign budget to its audience.

CPT = (production and rent costs / quantity of views per day) *1000.

CPT is used not to measure the cost of actual views or contacts, but the cost of prospect contacts that could or could not happen.

When calculating CPT you should keep in mind that production cost and rent of the ad space is comprised from several elements (that depend on the type of ad construction): layout design costs, registration costs, media costs, rent for ad spaces according to local rates, production costs, installation costs, maintenance costs and agency commission.

As you can see, OOH advertising media planning must include:

• target audience planning;

• consideration of technical features and specifics of different types of OOH ad constructions and their location;

• calculation of media parameters for OOH ad campaign (GRP, OTS, CPT and rating point).