Effective Billboard Advertising

When creating and designing effective outdoor advertising, the following principles should be kept in mind:

1. Simple Ideas and Brevity in Design Elements:

The outdoor viewing audience is mobile and often traveling swiftly. Viewing time is limited to a few seconds. Outdoor designs require a disciplined and succinct approach. The general rule for brevity is less than 7 words and 3 or less elements. Remember, less is more, much more, when using outdoor advertising to communicate a message. The limited message and the frequency are the fundamental strengths of outdoor advertising.

2. Humor and Surprise in Design Elements:

Use humor, wit, intrigue, surprise, or aesthetics to capture the viewer's attention. Often these elements are combined. Humor and aesthetics arouse favorable responses from viewers through funny or witty messages or pleasurable images or art. Intrigue and surprise, through unexpected or unusual design elements, cause the viewer to do a "double take" or present a clever puzzle that, when recognized or solved, is remembered. Dynamic or provocative messages are also effective.

3. Color in Design Elements:

Brilliant colors can inspire lasting impressions and with the proper use of colors can be one of the outdoor advertising's distinct advantages. Choose colors with high contrast in both hue and value (such as blue and yellow or black and white or green and white). Contrasting colors are viewed well from great distances while colors with low contrast tend to blend together and obscure the message. According to the OAAA, research demonstrates that high color contrast can improve outdoor advertising recall by 38%.

4. Fonts in Design Elements:

Fonts selected for outdoor advertising must be easy to read from variable distances. There should be adequate spacing between letters, words, and lines to enhance visibility. Avoid the following:

-Overcrowding: Compressed type or too many words will reduce the clarity of a message.

-Anemia: Fine or skinny typestyles will fade into the background, becoming indistinguishable as the viewing distance increases.

-Overweight: Too heavy of a typeface can lose its basic shape when the viewing distance is increased resulting in reading difficulty.

-Illegibility: Ornate, stylized, or large serif typefaces can be difficult to read, reducing the effectiveness of an outdoor sign.

-All Caps and Same Size: Words comprised of both upper and lower case or big and small capital letters are generally easier to read than words comprised solely of the same size capital letters.

-Small Letter Size: The copy must be large enough to read. Letter height should generally be greater than 10 inches.


Outdoor advertising is a frequency medium that provides multiple exposures to a message throughout the full duration of a campaign period. Consistent and repeated exposure to an outdoor message over an extended period of time will maintain high levels of advertising awareness and recall.

Outdoor advertising is effective, and continues to grow at a rapid rate nationally.