10 Tips for Designing an Unmissable Out-of-Home Ad: Creative OOH ad design that boosts results

ooh advertising design

They’re big, bold, and unstoppable. You can’t skip them, block them, or avoid them. In fact, you can’t even ignore them. Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is having a moment, and for good reason.

We may live in a digital age, but out-of-home advertising is—not surprisingly to industry experts—a genuine growth market. OOH advertising is seeing consistent ad revenue growth and is delivering significant business results.

So how do you make the most of this form of advertising and reaching your audiences when they’re outside their homes?

Creating an OOH campaign or ad isn’t the same as designing a magazine or digital ad. A solid OOH campaign is driven by creative design that engages with your audience in ways that other advertising channels don’t.

Competition is high for attracting the eye of the consumer, so smart concepts and good graphic design are key to standing out. OOH ads have to be persuasive. They have to be bold. And they have to be spot on.

In this article, we’ll walk you through 10 tips for designing great creative for your OOH campaign.


Identify and pursue your target audience

Before coming up with a winning ad, you have to know who you’re trying to reach. Get to know and understand your target audience and what makes them tick, so that you can ensure your ad layout, images and copy resonate with them.


Know your goal

Your OOH ad should tie back to your marketing/promotion campaign and other marketing and advertising tactics.

Have a specific goal for each OOH ad. Knowing what you want to achieve will drive the direction of your creative concept. Do you want to:

  • Create more brand awareness
  • Generate a call to action
  • Educate your viewers
  • Advertise a new product line
  • Try new demographic, market, or geographic area?


Use compelling copy—but keep it brief

Print or online ads can be packed with lots of information and small print that viewers can read at leisure. With OOH, you have to help viewers digest the information in just a few, simple lines.

Messaging is vital in OOH advertising, and it can be a challenge to convey that message in just five or six words.

Keep it simple, and use a single memorable contact method, like a shortlink, hashtag, or just your company name. Smart, short taglines and punchy copy work really well and will help you reap rewards in OOH ads.



Lead with a hero image

With magazine or editorial ads, you have flexibility in design and can create complex images to make readers think, but OOH advertising is different. OOH is essentially a visual experience, and a simple, relevant hero image should be central to your messaging.

Imagery is often more important than text in OOH advertising. Choose a single image or graphic element that:

  • Captures the attention
  • Conveys your message
  • Is high resolution
  • Is memorable, entertaining, or emotionally compelling

OOH ad design tips Lead with a hero image



Roll out the red carpet: use bold colours

Colours are really important in OOH advertising. While magazine ads have to ‘fit’ in to the publication’s ‘look’, OOH background and font colours have to be bright and high-contrast to help with readability.

White space can be really effective in media print ads, but too much of it in OOH ads can dilute or distract the message.

By using contrasting colours, you can attract the attention of your audience and place emphasis on certain parts of your ad, making it easy to read at any time of day.


(Kalvin Taylor/Goodall Media Inc)


Tell a story

To cut through visual noise (and so few words), you have to tell a story and give meaning to your message.

Design your OOH around a central story: does it solve a problem, satisfy a need, evoke an emotion, compel them to take an action?

Your company brand story will help you find a strong visual direction for your ad for an aspirational, bold concept that will influence viewers. OOH It’s a big space. It’s no time to think small!


Consider your location when you design your OOH ad

Out-of-home advertising is always in a fixed point in space. Consider using the location where it’ll be displayed as part of your ad use it as a springboard for a clever message.

People’s memories are better when they’re connected to a physical location, so OOH advertising is ideal to create brand awareness.

To optimise the retention of your ad, stay consistent with your design choices and branding in other channels: keep logos, colours, fonts, hashtags, and messaging consistent.


Test your ad

OOH ads have slightly different testing techniques than regular print ads. Sometimes the hardest thing is conceptualising the distance and scale of the ad’s images and text.

Visualise what your artwork will look like from across an ice surface or playing field, and test it:

  • Print it as business-card sized, and hold it at arm’s length away from you.
  • (You can also reduce it (minimise it on your screen) so it measures approximately 1” high.)

You have just a few seconds to get your message across: does it work? Can it be read from one foot away? If not, go back and refine your design, and test again.



Use our OOH ad design specs

You’re nearly ready to send in your OOH ad. Here’s a few last recommendations:

  • Keep the messaging clear and simple
  • Save your artwork as an editable high-resolution PDF
  • You can use spot colour (Pantone) or process colour (CMYK)
  • Make sure text and graphics must be within the Safe Area and at least 1” from the trim
  • Don’t use borders for rinkboards because the bleed will be trimmed at different heights for each facility
  • Make your text at least 6” tall (bold and readable)
  • Text should be large enough to read at a distance of 80+ feet
  • Any text or graphics that are difficult to read should be enlarged or removed

Over to you

Are you trying your hand at out of home advertising? Have you found our tips helpful? If you need a little more guidance about planning your next OOH advertising campaign, we’d love to hear from you.

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