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More than a billboard: Integrating out-of-home advertising with digital direct response

We’re all familiar with out-of-home (OOH) advertising – billboards, signs, ads in malls, at parks and in public transportation systems. For many years, these tactics have been used by brands to effectively reach massive audiences outside the home.

In fact, a recent study reported that 41% of people who have seen an OOH ad are more likely to investigate the brand further. 70% said these ads are likely to sway their purchasing decisions.

For quite some time, nonprofits have been using this effective tactic as a part of their larger multichannel strategy. But what if we combined this established advertising solution with cutting-edge digital technologies to create innovative and impactful direct-response campaigns?

Many agencies and organizations around the world are already doing this.

In this blog, I wanted to highlight some of the creative ways nonprofits can pair OOH advertising with digital innovation to reach donors in new and engaging ways.

QR codes

Thanks to the pandemic, the world has been reintroduced to QR codes. What once was a cumbersome experience that required a special app is now accessible through virtually everyone’s smartphone camera.

The re-emergence of QR codes has created an opportunity for nonprofits looking to drive traffic from OOH advertising to donation forms, websites or other key landing pages. There are even opportunities to create QR codes that are branded specifically for your organization.

The image below is just one example of how this can be done.

Helping hand QR code donation formSource: Pro Bono Australia

Mobile payment solutions

Thanks to technology like Apple’s Mobile Wallet or Visa’s contactless payment option, people are used to the concept of tapping to make a payment and going on their way – why should donations be any different?

In this campaign done by GPY&R Melbourne for Public Transport Victoria, donors are able to tap their transportation cards to donate a ride to homeless youth through an outdoor ad in a metro station.

While this exact concept may not be relevant to your organization’s mission, it’s an easily transformable idea to adopt.

Imagine if someone can tap their credit card or phone to feed a child or save an animal’s life.

Public transport victoria mobile paymentSource: Digital Buzz Blog

Interactive digital billboards

We’ve all seen digital billboards in malls, airports and various other locations. But this campaign by Misereor took it a step further, reimagining the way passersby interacted with their ad. By integrating a swipe feature that accepted credit card donations, Misereor was able to make the donor a part of the solution.

As they swiped their credit card, a video was triggered that showed them slicing bread to feed a hungry family.

Misereor interactive billboardSource: Creative Guerilla Marketing

In another example by Swedish advertising company Clear Channel, digital billboards were used throughout the city to help aid those experiencing homelessness. The weather forecast was displayed on the billboards, directing people to the nearest homeless shelter whenever severe weather was on the way.


Clear channel digital billboardSource: Springwise

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) may be popular in the gaming world, but it can also be used by nonprofits to make donors a part of your mission.

In this inspiring campaign by the NHS Blood and Transportation Organization, billboards were placed throughout the community. But this wasn’t just any billboard. The concept instructed donors to download an app where they could virtually donate blood through AR. As they donated, the patient’s bag filled up at the same time.

Paired with a corresponding social media campaign, the interactive experience helped the organization to show the impact donating blood can have on a person’s life.

NHS augmented reality billboardSource: Marketing Week

These are just a few of the many innovative ways nonprofit organizations across the world are pairing OOH advertising with cutting-edge digital technology. As we re-enter the world and continue to accelerate our digital practices, I’m excited to see how we can think of out-of-the-box ways to further your missions.

Mario Salman

For the past 30 years, Mario has led creative teams at top U.S. advertising agencies as well as international networks throughout Latin America. An expert in the direct-response arena, he has produced extensive award-winning work in TV, radio, print, direct mail, digital and social media.

A conceptual thinker who is highly strategic and results-driven, and a copywriter by trade (English and Spanish), his work for top advertisers such as AT&T, Procter & Gamble, Citibank, Ford, Verizon, and General Motors, among many others, has been recognized at prestigious local and international awards shows, including Cannes, London International Advertising Awards, New York Festivals, ADDYs, and the ECHOs.

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