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The Intimacy of One-to-Many —Rick Robinson

What is your description of an OOH Impression?

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a clinical description


Publisher’s Note:

The description of an OOH Impression

How do you characterize an Out of Home Impression?
Do you have a description other than the clinical one shown above? 

For those who sell OOH everyday, how you describe an OOH impression rather than define it clinically, may make the difference in success.  Put that thought in your next sales pitch. 

OOH TODAY wants to know what you think? How does one describe of an OOH Impression? There are many experts in the OOH Industry. We’d like to challenge the leaders in the Industry to share; what is your description of an OOH Impression? You don’t have to have a C Suite or Manager title behind your name but we sure think as a minimum we’d hear from those who do. 

We would like to know your thoughts. Use the ‘Leave a Reply’ comment section at the bottom of this page. FYI, you can make it anonymous. Rick Robinson writes about it below.  


The Intimacy of One-to-Many


Rick Robinson, Billups, Partner/Chief Strategy Officer

Written by Rick Robinson,
Partner/Chief Strategy Officer





OOH is intimate. Yes, technically, it’s a one-to-many messenger, the experience is public, concurrent, and you are not alone. Yet a viewer’s OOH consumption happens on a personal level, internalized, and with a singular interpretation.

Imagine finding yourself standing on a city street or looking out the window while driving a car. Alert, expectant, out in the world. Life is swirling about, most people are wearing masks, some aren’t, everyone is seemingly on a mission. You take notice how the crowds and traffic are increasing, and relish in the expectation for more action and energy in the coming weeks.

You’re naturally taking it all in – navigating and investigating what’s happening around you. Engaging in a visual triage of sorts. Your brain’s instinctive bias for efficiency leans into pictorial messages. The survival mechanism is kicking in. You are processing all manner of visual rhetoric. Working through hierarchies of intent and meaning. A constant filtering of input and stimuli. Making lightning fast judgements of what you see – Yes/No, Friend/Foe, Helpful/Not Helpful? In this stream of signals are moments of OOH media.

Something in your line-of-sight stops you for a pause. A message resonates, disrupts expectations, triggering a dialogue. Asking and answering a question with intrigue, humor, literal relevance, aesthetics, or perhaps a contextual adjacency. The exchange is active and present, satisfying your craving for progress, unity and order when out in the public space. The puzzle is complete. There is empathy. Everything “clicks” and the persuasive power of seeing and solving is gratified.

This is an OOH impression. It happens in crowded spaces with a shared sense of cooperation and purpose. The public, the space and the OOH messenger all know their roles. These conditions create a reciprocity of trust, an emotional closeness, an opportunity for disclosure. When a message is received on target there is a pronounced impact on our attention and long-term memory storage. There’s a flow, a freedom and an intimacy – the intimacy of one-to-many.

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  1. Thomas F Carroll says

    I have always assumed the word “impression” was chosen intentionally for OOH measurement. What advertiser wouldn’t want to convey an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone, especially one formed without conscious thought? One impression seems like a pretty big deal. Multiply that by thousands and thousands and you begin to understand the power of Outdoor Advertising!

  2. Rod Rackley says

    I think an impression has a relation to “connection” with the viewer. Creative matters.

    Did we invest the time and energy in putting something in the public space that makes someone think, makes use of our scale, is clever … or did we phone it in and make crappy OOH?

    Think about the share we could grab if we were disciplined enough to only post excellence in the public space?

    No Crappy OOH!

  3. Ron GRAHAM says

    The word “Impression” is the most important next-thing for OOH & DOOH. Potentially – done right – OOH impressions can allow trading alongside digital media and compete for the largest ad budgets. It is also a potential mine-field with the chance for loss of credibility and trust.
    Out of home media audience was formerly limited to traffic counts, as a basis of defining potential exposure or as a blunt indication of Opportunity To See (OTS)
    Individual site attributes like size, angle and viewing length were used as a classification variables to determined the likelihood of actually being seen (LTS)
    More sophisticated attribution tools such as eye-tracking and even neuroscience have allowed us to apply a Visibility Adjusted (VA) factors to OOH & DOOH assets.
    We are getting really close to predicting actual audience impressions.
    Device-based location data plus VA factors, offer precise audience data and this is where the best OOH measurement tools are currently; Geopath, Route, etc.
    The final hurdle is the multiplier and the divider, for DOOH.
    As a one to many medium we are justified to multiply one physical showing on a digital board, to represent exposure to many people at one time.
    However we also have to divide the exposures result to factor in the time when your ad is not displayed, when sharing the loop with other content.
    We have to tackle the share of time issue with professionalism and candour if we are to promote our media with reliable impressions data.

  4. We’re all for the power of Outdoor Advertising. Relevant point:

    “especially one formed without conscious thought”

    Thank you Tom F. Carroll

  5. “an impression has a relation to “connection” with the viewer…disciplined enough to only post excellence”

    Impressive thoughts here. Thank you Rod Rackley

  6. I think you nailed the clinical how and why in describing and defining Ron Graham. Strong points and comments Ron Graham. Your ‘final hurdle’ of ‘multiplier and divider for DOOH’ has long been a topic ignored. Thank you for mentioning it.

  7. Keith Thompson says

    How do you characterize an Out of Home Impression?
    Do you have a description other than the clinical one shown above?

    These are excellent and relevant questions that Rick Robinson’s “The Intimacy of One-to-Many” essay eloquently brings to life in his terrific description of how we, as consumers, interact with OOH messages of all forms.
    For me, I was taught early in my career – back when the DEC was the standard and only measurement – that an impression is “an opportunity to view” – which is true, but, boring and sterile.
    Over the course of my career, I have come to think of an impression as so much more. To Rick’s point, when we speak about impressions in OOH there is both the clinical description AND the EMOTIONAL description. OOH is most powerful when the messaging – whether on a spectacular, oversized wallscape or a piece of street furniture – engages the consumer on that emotional level. It is at that point that the brand messaging has succeeded by creating a moment of relevance with the consumer.
    I think of it this way: Impression is derived from the word “impress” which is defined as: “To make (someone) feel admiration and respect.” AND/OR “An act of making an impression or MARK.” As such, a “true” impression resonates on a level that transcends the ephemeral a deepens the relationship between the viewer and the brand. Anything less is just “an opportunity to view” which, from a brand perspective, is an opportunity lost.

  8. Excellent post Keith Thompson. From “back when the DEC was the standard and only measurement – that an impression is “an opportunity to view” – which is true, but, boring and sterile’ to “a “true” impression resonates on a level that transcends the ephemeral and deepens the relationship between the viewer and the brand” We appreciate the comments. Thank you!

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