Guest column: 6 most common mistakes people make with outdoor advertising: Alok Gupta, Director, Graphisads

From replicating the print ad for outdoor to focusing on only one popular media opportunity, Gupta debunks 6 popular myths about outdoor advertising

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: May 6, 2017 8:01 AM  | 6 min read

Doing something is one thing, doing it efficaciously is another. The same holds true for promoting a business or brand through outdoor advertising. However, it is general observation that even the shrewdest and far-sighted entrepreneurs opt for a shortcut when it comes to peddle their product on the platform of what constitutes Outdoor and eventually lose more than they gain. Let’s see through the myth, or call it a mistake, versus the methodical professional approach.

  1. Why create a new design for outdoor; just replicate the print ad

After all, print ads happen to be carrying more information at any time than an outdoor creative. So, why not just replicate it on a hoarding? A very legitimate thought unless we realize the limitations and scopes of the two media types. It needs no explanation that a magazine or newspaper is something solicited by the readers who are ready to spare time poring over page after page of the journal. Hence, a creatively appealing print ad can afford to be adequately informative and descriptive. Contrarily, outdoor media is unsolicited advertising, which tries to catch the attention of passersby, zipping by in their vehicles. Hoarding communication should be an essence of the print ad, but not the naive adaptation so that the rushing commuter devoid of the luxury to spare more than a glance, if at all, on a 20x10 ftunipole, must get the gist with a good impression about the product.

  1. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can do the campaign

It is as far from the truth or reality as assuming that every selfie clicker is a professional photographer. This reminds one of Leonardo da Vinci, the 15th century genius and arguably the greatest painter, who said, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” Simplicity, whether, in designs, architecture or literature, is easier said than achieved without great experience and practice. There are many fly by night operators all across industries and outdoor media is not new to it. In a trade where big industrial houses have come and failed miserably, the last thing you would like to do is offer your precious hard-earned dollars to just anyone. Whenever you are planning to do an outdoor campaign, talk to experts in the field, those offering lowest rates are not always the brightest!

  1. Outdoor campaign should be visible on the route between boss’s home and his office

We have seen right from the biggest brands to new-age billion dollar start-up babies fall for this, as if outdoor advertising is a kind of welcome board meant for self-gratification of the worst kind. In fact, this mistake happens due to lack of proper understanding of location, sites, and purpose about the media. Sometimes, even one hoarding at the right place can bring the windfall sale and popularity for the brand. Whereas painting a whole street may not give the desired results. Product, demand factor, potential audience, and apposite site are some of the parameters that true professionals in the field of outdoor advertising account for before deciding on the outdoor media distribution to a given brand.

  1. Quality of sites is always better than quantity of sites

Again a myth, or for naysayers I shall call it partially correct. Outdoor is a hyper local medium and should be exploited as per the desired output of the campaign. A lot of times, we see that a campaign is restricted to Mumbai only, or if the plan is for Delhi, clients are taught that South-Central Delhi is enough! People living in all parts of Delhi are consumers of any product/service. Limiting any campaign to specific regions for no reasons whatsoever is actually closing your eyes to new and most of the times relevant target audience.

  1. Take five sites on ring road/outer ring road and burn the budget

The best utilization of one’s outdoor budget is to do the balancing between cost, quantity, and quality. Thoughtful media deployment comes with experience and resources. It is multi-layered astute planning, which requires keen expertise along with ownership of the media. That leads to the success of a campaigning, which inevitably calls upon converting an onlooker into a customer of the product. Like a good architect has the skill to utilize the space optimally, the good outdoor advertising agency knows how to derive maximum mileage in a given budget. Those living in Delhi would know that money actually resides in North/West Delhi, which can never be covered with ring road/outer ring road assuming everyone comes on these two roads.

  1. Exhaust all budgets on Delhi Metro

Of late, a new “save my reputation” attitude has been seen in a lot of marketing managers who look after outdoor advertising. Some campaigns are being promoted only on Delhi Metro through its train panels, stations etc. While metro is an upcoming media opportunity, it only caters to around 10–12 per cent of Delhi/NCR’s population. Eventually, the population using Metro also has to travel outdoor to go to their homes. Just using the logic that “we have the numbers”, one cannot defy the common sense of 10–12 per cent of Delhi vs Complete Delhi. If planned and executed well, campaigns can be done across Delhi at the same cost as metro.

Penny wise,pound foolish

In many cases, clients do get their creative right for outdoor, but do not optimize it further by failing to use innovative mediums to amplify the message. Some routine innovations like cut-outs, LED lighting, etc. are not at all expensive but play a significant role in creating the right kind of impact, sometimes even doubling it. As a prudent media owner, it is suggested that clients keep 10 per cent of their budgets for innovation on the medium.

Having attempted to counter the myths vis-à-vis mistakes often committed in outdoor advertising, it is worth adding that outdoor media holds great potential as a growth driver of businesses. The only condition is that it should be handled skilfully. Outdoor advertising is a serious business and it must be remembered that ‘chaltaahai attitude se brand nahichaltaahai’.

(The author is Director of Graphisads, an advertising agency offering solutions in print, outdoor, electronic, event, exhibition, and digital)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube