Sustainable OOH Advertising – 9 Strategies to Improve Your Environmental Impact


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9 Tips For Sustainable OOH Advertising That Consumers Love

There’s a cost to every form of advertising, and that cost isn’t just monetary. Somehow, some way, it takes resources to create and deliver advertising, and OOH advertising is no different. As climate change dominates the newsfeed, more companies are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. With sustainable OOH advertising strategies like what you’ll find in this article, you can deliver on that goal.

In a well-known survey, 83% of consumers say they choose brands that prioritize environmental sustainability. So when companies looking to use OOH advertising can report on real strategies they’re using and show the data to back up theireffectiveness, that keeps their reputation strong and positive for their customers.

Here are nine ways to improve the environmental impact of your OOH advertising:

1. Recycle old OOH materials

Most traditional billboards are created on some version of vinyl, which doesn’t break down naturally, ever. And they use inks made from some pretty scary chemicals to make the colors pop and be visible from far away, not to mention withstand the weather.

It’s all well and good while it’s up on the billboard, but what happens when you take it down? How do you dispose of this huge display?

Rareform has arisen as a unique business solution to this problem. They already collect about 80% of used billboards in the US, adding up to nearly 300,000 so far. Then, they turn the material into handbags and other stylish merchandise. Because their products are made from old billboards, each item is one-of-a-kind, which appeals to consumers who don’t like showing up to parties all sporting the same accessories.
If you’re not selling your used billboards to a company that will repurpose them, this is a great solution to the biggest environmental challenge of printed billboards.

2. Switch to LED lights for billboards

The next main environmental cost of outdoor advertising is the lighting. Your billboard must be seen day and night to maximize its reach and ROI. All that lighting requires energy, and the lights are bright and shining nearly nonstop. 

Modern LED lights are brighter than traditional lights, but they use far less energy. Plus, they last way longer, meaning laborers have to change bulbs much less often.

This company in New Zealand switched to LED on 550 billboards over a four-year period, and they now use 85% less power than before the switch – quite a huge improvement for a relatively simple change.

Meadow Outdoor Advertising switched to LED in seven US states, reducing its energy use by 65% and saving nearly $120,000 in energy costs. The LED bulbs have a larger upfront price, but you recover those costs in a relatively small timeframe.

3. Invest in alternative billboard materials

The recycling option is great, but eventually the consumers will throw away their handbags. A longer-term approach would be to start investing in research to find other materials — for the billboard itself and the ink, that have a lower environmental cost.

4. Give back what you take from the earth

Offsetting production of carbon dioxide by planting trees is another real-world path to sustainable OOH advertising that almost any company can get behind. Plants consume carbon dioxide, so you can calculate the environmental benefits from the trees you plant. Power Direct has taken an aggressive approach to this in order to offset the environmental impact of their elite-level door hangers, a more personalized and targeted form of OOH advertising. 

They plant more trees than they use for printing, and they also fund sustainability projects around the world. They also use 10% recycled paper. And, speaking of alternative materials, Power Direct uses vegetable-based inks, which are less harmful to the environment. 

See what else Power Direct does to deliver sustainable OOH advertising.
Movia, an OOH company that specializes in mobile billboards, plants 100 trees for each truck bearing their advertisements that drives for four weeks. So far, they have planted over 55,000 trees, and have set a goal to plant one million.

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5. Install solar panels on billboards

In addition to LED lights, you can invest even more and zero out your energy usage from non-renewable sources. With LED lights and small solar panels installed on billboards, you will use far less energy, and generate whatever energy you do need from the sun. Even without LED lights, this strategy of sustainable OOH advertising works great. 

And if you are operating digital billboards, your energy usage will be higher, meaning solar delivers an even larger environmental — and financial — benefit. 

Lamar has installed over 7,000 solar panels on about 2,000 billboards in just two states. Those panels generate so much power that they send over 2 million kWH back into the grid because they produce more than they need to light their billboards.

With 48 more states, you can see the untapped potential from this sustainable OOH advertising strategy.

6. Use DOOH advertising

Again — every form of advertising carries with it an environmental cost. As you just read, DOOH advertising uses much more energy than printed billboards. But, it avoids the need for ink and vinyl. 

And with solar panels, you can produce the energy required for your DOOH billboard.Even without solar, DOOH eliminates the need for constantly transporting billboards to and from each location and switching them out every few months. And the disposal issue is mostly negated as well. With much lower material usage, reduced transportation needs, and lower labor costs, DOOH advertising offers its own set of sustainability benefits.

7. Cleanse the air with new billboard coatings

Developing new billboard materials and inks that are environmentally sustainable may take many years. But some OOH companies are already using a special titanium dioxide coating to help cleanse the air. 

This coating attracts various air pollutants and converts them to neutral compounds that just wash off in the rain. Spread across all the billboards in a city, the effect of this will be substantial. 

The coating adds about $2,000 to the cost of a billboard, according to Billups.

8. Get creative with sustainable OOH advertising

Creativity sometimes costs more, but when done well, it also gets more attention. And more companies are getting creative with their OOH advertising venues in ways that increase environmental sustainability.

Here’s one company that created a streetside billboard that doubles as a garden.

Others have surrounded billboards with flora, attached water filters to their structures, and tried other creative ideas. 

Casper used a DOOH billboard in an attention-getting advertising campaign. To reduce their use of energy at night, they turned the billboard to ‘night mode,’ with a message saying their advertising was going to sleep too. It put off far less light at night, but still promoted their brand and was easy to see. 

9. Measure the environmental impact of your OOH advertising

Last, whatever you do, be sure to find a way to track your data. 

If you’re planting trees, keep track of how many. If you’re reducing energy usage due to solar or LED, find out how much less you’re using each month. Going DOOH? Quantify how much less energy you’re using due to transportation savings. 

Whatever sustainable OOH advertising strategies you’re using, keep tabs on the impact. That way, you can report it to your shareholders and employees, as well as the media and your customers.
This may seem a bit self-serving, but note that if you can motivate otherwise obstinate stakeholders by showing them a benefit to the bottom-line, it’s a net win for the earth. 

See how various OOH ad agencies measure their environmental impact.

Targeted OOH – greater impact, less footprint

Want to increase dwell time and engagement from your OOH ads? Nothing has more potential for this than a door hanger distribution campaign, especially one that targets a particular set of prospects. And as you’ve seen, Power Direct offsets their printing by planting more trees than they use and investing in other environmental initiatives.

Get in touch with a front door OOH marketing specialist from Power Direct to talk about customizing a front door marketing campaign for your products or services.

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Billboardsdoor hangersLindmark InkMovia MediaOOHPower Directsustainable ooh advertising
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