Automakers Take OOH Ads To The Next Level

JCDecaux created an OOH ad where they tilted the car to let passersby see the inside of the car in a creative way.

The best way to reach drivers is on the road, where consumers spend most of their time commuting to and from work on a daily basis. So where else would be a great place to advertise your next car or motor campaign better than on congested roads? The Texas A&M Transportation Institute issued a report in 2019 stating that commuters waste an average of 54 hours a year stalled in traffic. That’s why many automakers are turning to outdoor advertising and digital LED billboards as a solution for marketing and advertising their campaigns.

According to OAAA Org, OOH is cheaper and more affordable than other media vehicles. It’s stated that OOH delivers a high return on investment – for every $1 spent on an OOH ad, you’ll receive $2 in sales. Moreover, it’s cost-efficient and can dramatically improve the reach of other media at a lower cost, increasing reach by 18% for TV and up to 316 % for mobile ads. Additionally, they mentioned that 55% of the people in the survey use mobile and social media to share information while seeing an ad, 82% search the web as a direct result of seeing an OOH ad after 5 exposures, and 58% buy a product after seeing an OOH ad after 5 exposures. Outdoor advertising on streets, arterial roads, and at transit stations provides an opportunity for automakers to reach a myriad number of commuters from all walks of life with outdoor advertising across city streets and transit stations.

Technology Found Its Way To The OOH Ad World

Advances in technology are making billboards more intriguing and attractive, which is why car makers consider all types of OOH ads and also prefer to merge them with other marketing efforts to complement the process. Marketing and advertising agencies are going to great lengths to enhance and develop more interactive and integrated OOH advertisements to be aligned with their clients’ marketing strategies. They do this by using dayparting, dynamic messaging, and leveraging real-time traffic conditions that trigger to display hyper-targeted ads.

Dealer Marketing Magazine came out with a report about the latest technology used by automakers in the OOH advertising world. They are using new OOH ad measurements to lead consumers to dealerships. Clear Channel Outdoor used new OOH ad planning and attribution technologies called CCO RADAR, which enticed major U.S. automotive manufacturers to start utilizing a kind of new technology that integrates the latest audience behavioural patterns from aggregated and anonymized mobile data from one in four mobile devices into its advertising planning and measurement solutions. This is helping automakers and dealers to determine the best outdoor locations to reach auto buyers with OOH ads and then measure actual visits to auto dealerships with a very strong intent to buy. Furthermore, these same exposed audience groups can be retargeted with mobile ads to reinforce the brand message.

The magazine also mentioned a case study about a major vehicle manufacturer that used RADAR for a campaign to raise consumer awareness and drive dealership visits throughout Los Angeles. The campaign ran seven weeks and used proximity targeting to select printed and digital billboards within a five-mile radius of the dealership. The plan was optimized to provide roughly equal coverage to all 51 participating dealerships. The results were impressive:

– Participating dealers saw a 175% lift in visits to dealerships among consumers exposed to the OOH campaign versus a control group in the same DMA, which was unexposed.
– Consumers exposed 13 or more times had a visitation rate twice as high as average.
– 26% of exposed consumers visited a dealership 15 or more miles from where they live.

These results show exactly how effective an OOH campaign can be in engaging with an audience of car buyers.

Programmatic OOH

Awarion utilized digital programmatic billboards to make Toyota Hybrid different and attract the attention of customers in Turkey. The campaign used real-time data feeds around traffic patterns, fuel consumption, noise levels, and currency exchange rates to trigger dynamic creativity. For example, when there’s a traffic jam, Toyota displays a traffic map while highlighting the hybrid motor’s low fuel consumption capabilities. Or when there’s noise pollution, Toyota displayed the current street noise level while talking about the hybrid engine’s low noise advantage. Moreover, the campaign used audience data to send push notifications to drivers highly likely to be across the street from a billboard running Toyota creative. The result was impressive as Toyota saw a 44% year-over-year increase in hybrid motor sales, making it the highest-selling car in the country according to the Turkish Automotive Distributors Association. 

Let’s go through some of the most creative OOH ads!


In 2015, Ooh! Media created an innovative campaign for Porsche at Melbourne Airport using a digital billboard. Once the car approaches the airport, the billboard automatically changes the content on the digital billboard with the message, “It’s so easy to pick you out of a crowd”. They used the car recognition technology developed by oOh! with digital experiences using IBM software and oOh!’s own content management system ARGLYE to identify incoming Porsches before revealing the message for 10 seconds. In simple words, they installed cameras 300 metres from the billboard analyses then they marked approaching vehicles in real-time to identify if the car is a Porsche. Once a Porsche is detected, it triggers the tailored message to be displayed as the Porsche is approaching. By incorporating vehicle recognition technology into that campaign, they were able to deliver personalized content to Porsche drivers increasing the likelihood that messages will be noticed and remembered.


What about a car hanging upside down from the ceiling? JCDecaux and Fiat created an exceptional campaign for the exploration of their new car model. This was a very exciting and engaging campaign for consumers.

JCDecaux and Fiat created an exceptional campaign for the exploration of their new car model

As parking in busy urban locations is intimidating and challenging, Leo Burnett marketing agency executed a creative OOH ad called, Parking Helpers, for Fiat in Germany to introduce Fiat 500’s parking assistant feature and showcase how easy and seamless the car is able to park. They installed clever software that showed people, kids, youth, and older folks, lending a helping hand. This innovative ad demonstrated how stress-free and safe it is to park with the Fiat parking assistant.


JCDecaux coined VW’s OOH ad with social media interaction. They asked consumers to ‘Big up the up!’ in an interactive Facebook and digital outdoor campaign. The campaign used the Volkswagen UK Facebook page to ask followers to pay a compliment to the new Volkswagen up! model and in return, Volkswagen would return the compliment by showing an image of fans accompanied by flattering remarks on their outdoor poster sites across the UK. Compliments paid online to date include, “The VW up! Won the ‘What Car? Car of the year 2012’ award. People could also watch the Facebook page live streams as VW returned compliments on their outdoor sites located in different cities in the U.K.

Volkswagen UK Facebook page to ask followers to pay a compliment to the new Volkswagen up


The launch of the all-new ‘BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine’

The launch of the all-new ‘BMW 3 Series Gran Limousine’. They created a creative teaser designed with the tagline, ‘Coming Soon,’ displayed in LED lights. The billboard campaign targeted media sites in metro cities like Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Pune, and Mumbai. These sites are traffic-jammed locations and major routes leading to BMW dealership centres. The creative vision for the campaign was to highlight the extra length and luxury that the new model offers. The revolving tires on large billboards are a spectacular, attention-grabbing innovation. The front and end headlights were blinking in the background making the billboard illuminate and hard to miss.


 Audi ran outdoor billboards with the tagline, "Audi as your sixth sense”,

In the United Kingdom in 2017, Audi ran outdoor billboards with the tagline, “Audi as your sixth sense”, which used data from current driving conditions to promote the latest assistive technology. Using traffic, time, and weather data, Audi triggered content that was contextually relevant at each location in an effort to enhance the brand’s agility in the digital space and increase awareness of the advanced intelligent technologies available in their latest models. The campaign ran across premium roadside screens on a nationwide scale. So, what was the idea? For example, when the traffic is heavy, the ad alerted drivers to Audi’s “Pre-Sense” feature, an in-built technology package for predictive safety. During adverse weather, the ad changed to feature, “Quattro-on-demand,” an all-wheel-drive technology designed for rain, snow, or hail conditions.
“This is the first data-driven digital OOH campaign we have launched on a national scale. By using data to contextualize copy, we can reach drivers with targeted and tactical advertising messages that are relevant throughout the day, tapping into the driver’s mindset at the moment.” Benjamin Braun, head of marketing, Audi U.K.

To Wrap up

Cars are being improved and changed all the time and so should their ads. Advertisers and marketers understand this fact and work hard to observe consumers better than ever before. They use new technologies that enable them to target and engage the right consumers, which ultimately leads them to dealership centers. This technological level puts auto manufacturers behind the wheels of their OOH ads as it provides them with invaluable opportunities to reach and capture their attention on the go in a more creative way before, during, or after their commute in the hopes of influencing their decisions. Last but not least, OOHads are the best complement to other marketing efforts and can perfectly integrate with social media campaigns to perform even better.

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