Understanding the Psychology of OOH Ads: How to Win the Signage Game

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Out-of-home advertising hit a hurdle during the pandemic when lockdowns forced people to stay home. Brands realized that spending big on billboards and banners was useless when no one was around to see them. They quickly siphoned their marketing budgets to online channels to keep the momentum going.

Things changed quickly after the pandemic receded and the dust settled. OOH advertising witnessed a resurrection, with 80% of consumers stating that they purchased after seeing an outdoor ad. Moreover, ad spending in the OOH market is estimated to reach a whopping $ 9.15 billion in 2023. That shows how crucial it is for brands to be visible in the retail space. 

Whether you want to promote an international brand in the Big Apple or a small business in Charlotte, you must have an out-of-home advertising strategy in place. Beyond only circulating information, your brand should understand the psychology of outdoor advertising to stand apart in the competitive landscape. 

Here are some valuable insights into OOH advertising to help you win the signage game:

Think Like Your Customer

Emotional connection is the mainstay of customer retention. Did you know that 7 in 10 buyers recommend a product or service because they feel connected with it? A study shows that emotional marketing campaigns have a success rate of 31%. Thinking like your customer is key because the more you know them, the stronger connections you build. 

Once you get into the mind of your target audience, think about what they expect to see in your outdoor ad. Understanding the behavioral science behind consumer perception and decision-making is the key to creating conversion-optimized commercial signs. If your banner resonates with buyers’ emotions, it is a surefire winner. 

Beyond the needs of the audience, consider factors like age and demographics. You cannot expect the commercial signs in Charlotte, NC, to be the same as those in LA or New York because of the difference in locations and lifestyles. 

Phoenix Signs recommends going the extra mile with the design of your commercial sign. Consider it a sustainable asset for your brand, and do not cut corners with the material quality, design, and messaging. A good one can add a winning advantage to your OOH advertising strategy.  

Pursue Attention 

The attention span of an average customer is only 8 seconds, whether they are on your website or near your brand’s billboard. Holding attention is even more challenging in the retail space as your brand competes with other OOH ads. Attention emerges as one of the most crucial aspects of consumer psychology. 

You can ace the signage game by playing with bright colors, prominent fonts, and compelling messaging. These are the elements that make billboard ads of brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Apple, and Nike click with their attention-grabbing details. While you try to get these factors right, do not forget to stay true to your image. After all, buyers know your brand due to its originality. 

Capitalize on Cognitive Biases 

Did you know that cognitive biases can help you maximize the sales potential of outdoor signs? These are errors in judgment that affect the way the brain processes information. For example, confirmation bias makes people seek out information supporting their preexisting beliefs. That means you can subtly convince customers to buy something by leveraging something they agree with. 

Loss aversion, the mere exposure effect, the framing effect, and the compromise effect are other psychological concepts you can use to develop effective OOH signs and campaigns. Most buyers are unaware of these biases and tend to make buying decisions when you play with their beliefs and perceptions.  

Get the Location Right

The psychology of OOH advertising is not only about the emotions and feelings of your target audience. It is also about getting their location right by displaying your banners where they are most likely to see them. For example, transit signage is ideal for targeting commuters and urban consumers. Likewise, you can put up signs near stadiums to reach sports fans. 

The idea is to understand where you will likely find your customer demographic and ensure visibility there. You can even tailor campaigns to specific target audiences, goals, and seasons to maximize the impact of your OOH investment. Think of pushing your campaigns with extra signage during the holidays and sports seasons. 


OOH is going nowhere, even in the era of digital marketing. Successful brands set aside an average of 13% of their marketing budget for it. Statistics highlight the significance of commercial signs for big brands and small businesses. But hanging up random signs in high-traffic areas isn’t enough to run successful campaigns. You must understand customer psychology and apply it to your strategy for the best results. 

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