The revolution will be outdoors: the democratisation of outdoor advertising

Posted on: 2014-10-27 in Opinion

B2B PR Blog's Editor, Heather Baker examines the factors keeping smaller businesses out of large-scale outdoor advertising - and the disruptive influences helping them find their way in. 

Every small business – and, let’s face it, their PR agency – dreams of being able to make the same kind of impact as their larger competitors. Social media has levelled the playing field in terms of online exposure to a certain extent, but the internet is a very crowded place.

When it comes to more traditional crowded places – the physical spaces where people congregate – it is part of the reality of promoting a small business that high-impact campaign elements such as advertising on public transport, billboards or stations, are exclusively reserved for big players with gargantuan budgets. In the B2B space in particular, this means that smaller businesses have to try and target their audience during working hours – while larger companies are reaching them during their commute.

So what’s a small company and their PR team to do? For the most part they seem to have accepted their lot in life, turned their backs on large-scale outdoor advertising with a shrug and focused on quirkier ways of grabbing attention. Which is great – we all love quirky and who wants to spend thousands of dollars or pounds commissioning giant posters, anyway. But it’s always struck me as interesting that so few people have tried to find a way around the traditional entry points into high-impact spaces.

I’ve been thinking about this as I recently came across a company which offers precisely this sort of workaround. US company Zeusvision runs a fleet of digital media vehicles that give smaller businesses the opportunity to quite literally see their advertising appear on the side of a bus. The model is based on providing access to large-scale outdoor media buses in major cities such as New York or Los Angeles at affordable prices. A lot of thought has gone into ensuring that the campaigns put as little strain on resources as possible: the campaign management app can be run from an iPad and buses use digital images rather than specially commissioned posters. And of course, because the vehicles aren’t tied to a public bus route, they can be sent wherever the brand’s target audience is likely to be.

Media access for all

What I found really interesting, was that rather than being a poor cousin to the real thing, these digital media buses are attracting big brands, too. A quick glance at the Zeusvision client list reveals names like Disney and The Ellen Show. Whether they are attracted by the ability to use digital imagery, tailor their route, or take advantage of features such as geo-location or eye-tracking, the fact that big names are using the service has the effect of giving smaller brands who use it a boost.

I’ve yet to come across any other companies offering a similar service – but given the amount of growth being generated by small businesses around the world, expansion in this area can’t be far off. And if more companies start thinking about smart ways to provide access to high-impact advertising spaces, you won‘t have to spend much longer wondering at what point your business – or your clients’ - will be successful enough to be advertised on the side of the bus.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – which is why we’ll be putting the Zeusvision method to the test for TopLine Comms - the B2B tech PR agency behind the B2B PR Blog. We’re going to promote the company on a bus in New York and see what kind of traffic we get from NY. We’ll be posting our findings on the blog, so make sure you visit regularly to find out how it went.




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About this blog


The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, founder of TopLine Comms, and inbound marketingB2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say.  Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact the B2B PR Blog editorial team via email on [email protected].


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