Nowhere is the creativity of advertising more clearly displayed than in a medium that generates positive associations between customers and brand. Posters rely less on conversions and more on raising awareness. You’re attempting to occupy the mental territory overlaid upon a city through landmarks encased in snap frames and good will. Knowing where to display a poster, and how to structure it so that your brand is registered in a split-second, is key to its success.
Figures from the OAAA show that outdoor advertising is the fastest growing local medium in the industry. A growth of 22% ($1 billion) in the last decade was bolstered by a 4.5% rise in 2012 alone. Despite coming in at only 5% of a company’s ad budget, poster advertising is a vibrant business.
You can contrast these figures with the exponential growth in digital advertising and be left with the erroneous impression that print media is a dinosaur. While banner ads and pop-ups all demand you engage with them, rather than simply pass them by, statistically you’re more likely to be able to complete Navy SEAL training than click on a banner ad.
The Big Picture
Research clearly indicates that images are stored and retrieved more easily than words. Recent studies have shown, however, that a plethora of stock images is having a detrimental effect on advertising impact. Many consumers fail to identify the brand behind the image as no one can tell whether the bubbly blonde is smiling because she’s bought a new pair of shoes or acquired a loan. This is largely due to cheap online advertising space.
Most advertisers are so enamored with the potential of the digital landscape that they simply won’t admit that the Internet is dragging advertising into the dirt, Google algorithms or no. Snap frames and perspex are favoured because a stunning breadth of artistic talent informs the use of poster advertising, cementing it as a valued and trusted medium, yet pop-ups and spam are intrusive and obstructive. You don’t have to close a poster down before you order your coffee in Starbucks, and they have been around so long that they don’t have the negative connotations of digital advertising.
As fixtures that stand alone, posters are a familiar and accepted feature of our day-to-day geography. Snap frames ensure a poster endures where alternative mediums can be brushed aside. The quality of an outdoor advert is often vastly superior to its digital counterparts; since it is not encumbered by the paucity of imagination inherent in those wheeler-dealers touting knock-off Viagra or ‘free money’, and neither are walls or bus stops prone to viruses. If you look at one poster, you are not going to have your vision dominated by a flurry of a thousand similar ads because the walls have remembered your preferences and subverted your firewall.
Location, Location, Location
Working out the best place for a poster is still a matter of good old-fashioned market research. As metrics are worked out on cost-per-thousand-impressions, heavy footfall is a necessity, but you want to make sure those feet are attached to your target audience.
The hefty price tag for a billboard at the Superbowl isn’t due to the number of people who will be watching, but the association a company is creating with one of America’s most celebrated past-times. Creating positive associations are dependent upon the advertisers’ ability to harness existing associations. You will need to identify areas that have a heritage and atmosphere associated with your brand.
Successful posters are a case of harmony of form and content, and things like knowing which colour is appropriate to a location and the product is of great importance to a medium that relies on split-second, non-verbal brand recognition. The majority of posters are positioned inside buildings, close to counters or terminals, where people will have more time to take them in. Snap frames are used to extend their lifespan, and it’s not uncommon for adverts to run for several months at a time.
Association, Association, Association
As good as online algorithms are, they will never be able to paint a whole street pink to sell Barbie dolls, or project the image of a model’s bare buttocks onto London’s Big Ben. This is the science of association, not similarity. On the street, it is not a wise idea to choose red, for example as it is associated with a demand for people to stop. Scientists have discovered that the most successful color for an advert is blue, that models in fact shouldn’t be used, and that humor is just a distraction.
Research into the effectiveness of posters often runs counter to actual practice, most commonly because people assume a popular image will create an effective poster. Here is a roundup of the ten most useful, and surprising, findings:
- Don’t use a model, and if you do, don’t have them making eye contact with the passer-by. They increase creative appeal but decrease brand recognition.
- Don’t use humour. Posters rely on split-second brand recognition, and there is no time to deliver a punch line.
- Don’t put your logo in the bottom right hand corner like everyone else. It is the last thing that the customer will register, and by then they will have already lost interest.
- Don’t put your brand in the headline, and don’t mention price at all.
Say as little as possible. Minimize everything from the amount of colours, fonts and words to unnecessary descriptions of product components. Try and associate your brand with a single word, as Coca-Cola has done with “Open Happiness”.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Global Jet