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Location, Location, Location, Doesn’t Really Work for OOH

Have We Had it Wrong All These Years

4 944

Location Location Location

Those 3 words may work for real estate, it does not work as an absolute for OOH.
Location does not carry the day for OOH in terms of the absolute truism, people often credit to it.
Location is not the number one determinant of OOH success.  Location is important, however, it is not number one.

Creative is the number one

Creative is the number one determinant to OOH success. I believe I have, an answer to silence the location proponents of this endless debate.

Creative is the number one determinant to OOH success.

OOH Today is suggesting of all the elements which are critical to planning and executing a great OOH campaign, creative is most vital to success. Not location. Not number of faces. Not total impressions. Not data!  Not length of contract.

Creative is the single most important element as it will attract the consumer’s attention, creating a memorable impact selling a product or service. And yet, we do not include it in our measurement.

This has been a career long debate. 

Consider this simple example to demonstrate the absolute superior value of ‘creative over location’ in every OOH campaign.

The solution is a real one, you can take it to the streets of your OOH market.

Choose your ‘worst location’ in the market.  I know, you “don’t have any bad locations. They are all good.”  Select one which is less than ‘perfect’.  To be reasonable, do not select the unit which is 100% blocked by trees or other obstructions. (Yes, OOH ads can be blocked, contrary to all the opinions and posts people headline otherwise). Select a ‘poor location’, partial obstruction is acceptable.

… a totally nude man and or woman. Show total frontal nudity.

credit photo DailyBillboardBlog.com

Post a billboard, poster, transit ad or any OOH media, with creative which is a totally nude man and or woman. Show total frontal nudity. Do not block selective body parts. The full image. Got it?

Next, take an award-winning design from last year’s Obie’s, post it the same day. Install on your ‘best location’. Install on your strongest, dead ahead, right reader, so close to the road you can touch it in the drive by and with hundreds of thousands of daily impressions.

Now wait…





Wait, for the phone to ring. Wait, for the internet to crash. Wait for social media to explode!  Wait… for the newspaper and news stations calling.  Perhaps the city attorney.  Wait, for your mom to phone. That will determine the winner.  Agreed?

They will not be calling about the Award Winning Obie design.  Tell me which is more effective?
The nude creative on the poor location?  Or the ‘award winner’ on the best location?

What?  You can not post a totally full frontal nude man or woman on any of your OOH locations?  By virtue of the effect in the marketplace, the nude creative will create, you can not even allow our little competition to commence?  Any further discussion which is most important element to OOH?  Creative wins.

Creative always wins.  I have never once heard someone say, “hey did you see that awesome location with that horrible creative?” 

Creative wins

Creative always wins.  I have never once heard someone say, “hey did you see that awesome location with that horrible creative?”  Unless they know the parties involved.  But when great creative hits the street, even colleagues come in to the office talking about it.  Yet, we still don’t factor in creative in measurement.

This Heidi Klum creative was not allowed to go on the streets of LA as a billboard.

We are not advocating nudity on OOH of any kind. Through the extreme example, we are illustrating the secondary importance of location and the primary importance creative plays in the success of Outdoor.

No amount of great locations, strategic data targeted for maximum impressions delivery or latest software, hardware will save a campaign if the creative is not effective.

No amount of strategic data targeted for maximum impressions delivery or latest software, hardware will save a campaign if the creative is not effective.

Our example was to define creative as the single most important element of Outdoor Advertising. Too often, poor management decisions are based on the perceived value of locations.

We know the asset valuation a location brings to the financials. We understand the opportunity a great location provides.  Open, unsold faces, void maximizing the value of the opportunity and assets.  Mediocre or poor creative cripples the entire effort.  Support great creative, together with the other elements mentioned above, for the most effective OOH campaign.  Bring creative measurement into OOH ratings.

Creative must always be ‘winning’ in your OOH ‘store’.  Keep uncompromising creative, the focus in your office/market/company with your entire team, not just the creative staff.

Where do you stand on the argument?  Creative or location? Which is most important?

What say you?  Zara Korutz, John Altman,  David Menk,  Brianna Foley Kevin Joyce



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  1. Andrea Messimer Henley says

    I agree creative is number one. I lIke your analogy about nudity.
    I see many prime locations with mediocre creative and think what a waste. Verizon and wireless companies come to mind. Simple yes, creative no, Are they getting impressions? absolutely because of their positioning- Are they making an impact like Chic Fila? Not even close- They could do a better job to stand-out and not look so clinical.

  2. Jeff casper says

    show me a way to reliably measure creative impact as part of an industry measurement system. Even if there was a way to do it validly, reliably, and efficiently, tell me how measuring creative helps creativity. There is no debate about the power of creative vs location. It’s not creative vs location. Good location helps good creative. Bad location hurts good creative. That is a fact I can and have proven..

  3. Bill Board says

    Jeff Casper, thank you for your comments. Actually, there is an ongoing historical debate in OOH Providers Offices about location verses creative and which is most important. Particularly among the OOH providers. The debate appears on the posts of LinkedIn weekly. Check out Zara Korutz, Outfront Media, LinkedIn posts for starters. OOH creative can be broken down element by element systematically. See all the ‘rules of OOH creative’ written in blogs and posts. When you create a data rule, you turn rule definitions into data rules, and bind the logical representations that you create with data in the data sources defined for your project. Creative can be measured. For example, font size, letter style, number of words, colors used, color combinations, the list is very long, nevertheless there is a reliable way to measure creative. Most creative’s people, if not all, will agree on the majority of elements which make for a successful creative execution. It will not be exact. But what measurement is? You ask, “tell me how measuring creative helps creativity”? I am a bit perplexed by that question, as I think the answer is obvious. The answer is in the question. Simple answer is, if in pre-production the creative does not pass a predefined measurement threshold, it goes back to the artist for work. You’ll find exceptions and that is why the best creative often breaks the rules. Those will be easy to identify. But the mediocre designs, the ones which have taken so much space in social media discussions? See Tod Turner, Brianna Foley, Harrison Mills. The average designs will be sorted out for the opportunity for more work. Many will cry ‘blasphemy!’ in suggesting creative can be measured, just as salespeople bristle when management suggests there is no art to sales. The reality is creative it can be measured. But just because something can be measured does not always mean it should be measured or would be of value if measured. The debate may be, would we use it even if we did?
    No argument from OOH Today that, “Good location helps good creative. Bad location hurts good creative.” We agree. We would love to see your proof. Thank you again for comments. Bill

  4. Bill Board says

    Agreed Andrea. thank you for your comments. Consider this…”If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
    If a billboard has poor creative and is not looked at does it have impressions? Should the impressions be counted?
    It is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception.

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