How Smartphones Increase OOH Advertising Engagement

A billboard showing a shark and someone holding their phone up to it with the message on the phone "Turn on the light to reveal the ocean's most terrifying killer"

In the past decade, smartphones have become the most popular available technology with over four billion active smartphone users worldwide. Smartphones are widely used for social media sharing, interacting with different apps, and gaining valuable data about one’s surroundings. In recent years, these mobile devices have been integrated into OOH (Out-of-Home) advertisements through posters, truck-side, and billboards in order to engage with consumers and provide an enhanced user experience. By using technology such as Geofencing, beacon, and QR codes, companies are able to share and receive important information, statistics, and feedback through their advertising campaign in real-time. OOH advertisements are now able to collaborate with the digital marketing world to offer perks such as location data in order to better target specific demographics. Consumers are now able to engage with OOH like never before by using apps to interact with the ads themselves. Ocean Outdoor, an outdoor advertising services company, revealed that consumers are 48% more likely to interact with a mobile ad after seeing the same ad as an outdoor advertisement first. This article will assess exactly why and how smartphone integration is the perfect way to captivate an audience, drive consumer engagement, and boost your return on investment (ROI) like never before.


Geo-fencing is a service that can be useful to any OOH advertiser. It works by using Wi-Fi or GPS to trigger a specific action within your mobile device. By tracking the location of consumers, geo-fencing allows companies to engage with their audience by sending messages to their smartphones when they enter a certain area. This specific area is called a geo-fence. In other words, once customers enter the specific longitude and latitude (otherwise known as ‘crossing the virtual fence’), anyone in that specific zone can be targeted. The areas usually used for geo-fencing are populated and dense locations such as shopping malls and city centers so that the most amount of people can be reached at one time. This technology is extremely useful because it allows advertisers to better understand their target market by showing them the optimal location and timing for  their products and services to be advertised. The location targeting also allows advertisers to retarget these same users in the future, thus leading to a boost in sales, loyal  customers, and a higher return on investment. Just a small increase in customer retention can lead to a significant increase in profits which is why so many companies are using geo-fencing today.

Beacon Technology

Beacons are another relatively new form of technology that OOH advertisers have been using to increase consumer engagement through location and proximity marketing. A beacon is a wireless transmitter that uses Bluetooth to send signals to nearby smartphones. With beacon technology, advertisers are able to jump into the user’s phone and give informational, contextual, and personalized experiences. With the use of beacon technology, advertisers are able to improve user experience by gathering data and feedback as well as increasing sales by creating personalized experiences. Beacons are often used for transportation services, stores and shopping malls, news outlets, as well as travel and hospitality. For example, beacon technology can track the movement patterns of consumers and send them notifications based on where they are located in the store. It can be used to help customers find items within the store or even alert them about in-store events, coupons, and discounts. Beacons target loyal customers by engaging with them in innovative ways and improving their experience with a brand within the targeted location. The point of a beacon is to always improve the user experience for the consumer and at the same time, gather data to create even better experiences in the future.

QR Codes

Mapleview shopping mall billboard with a QR code scanner on the side to engage with the billboard.

QR codes are another way that OOH advertisers can interact and engage with consumers. A QR code is a special code that looks similar to a barcode; a white box with a specific black pattern that users can scan with their smartphone’s camera. The QR code can have many uses such as helping customers navigate a store, showcasing new products and services, and announcing sales and discounts. The code can lead users to Google Maps, YouTube, the company’s website , and more. The feature can also drive online traffic sales as consumers are redirected to the company’s online store which helps build a positive, long-lasting relationship between the customer and the business. With QR codes, OOH advertising and online sales become integrated as one marketing strategy. There is an endless range of possibilities for QR code technology as companies can utilize it to better engage and interact with customers. It is a win-win for both the business and the consumer as the brand becomes known for being user friendly and engaging. When the consumer enjoys the experience so much, they will likely become a loyal customer.

Virtual Valentine

Valentine billboards in subway station, there is a QR code heart and it says 'Scan the code', on the other side it says 'Share Love' and 'Use the filter, tag us and a friend, share your story'

Outfront Media, an outdoor advertising company, made a super creative advertising campaign for Valentine’s Day, which involved digital billboards placed in subway stations around the U.S. The billboards had heart-shaped QR codes that could be scanned by a smartphone to activate a special augmented reality (AR) filter on Instagram. The filter included a Valentine’s day message which could then be shared with other Instagram users within the messaging feature of the app. The post could also be shared to the OutFront Media Instagram account to give users more engagement as more people would see their images and be able to like, comment, and share them. This campaign was a perfect example of how well OOH advertising and smartphone technology (in this case QR codes) can pair together to create a seamless user experience and increase consumer engagement. Since consumers are much more likely to visit a mobile ad when they see the OOH ad first, it becomes crucial for companies to use both to market their products and services. Furthermore, since one in every four consumers will post a picture of an OOH ad, it helps both the outdoor advertising industry and the digital advertising industry drive traffic and become viral just as this campaign did.


Green Bloomscape truck side ad with pictures of plants and the message "Give a gift that grows"

Movia recently partnered with Bloomscape to create a truck-side ad campaign in Austin, Texas that would promote the brand, engage with consumers, and boost sales. Bloomscape is an online plant delivery service company that delivers beautiful live plants straight from their greenhouses to your front door. Because the plants are delivered straight from the growing source, they arrive healthy and thriving every time. Gardening has become an extremely popular hobby during quarantine so it was the perfect time for Bloomscape to promote their business. With the help of Movia and their beacon technology, three trucks were sent out displaying Bloomscape ads. The trucks looked just like their personal delivery vehicles, making the brand stand out even more. By combining outdoor awareness and online conversions with beacon technology, Bloomscape was able to target key demographics in specific neighborhoods leading to 10.8 million impressions over the span of 9 weeks. Bloomscape was then able to retarget specific consumers with Movia’s beacon technology leading to 800,000 online impressions for that specific demographic. By creating brand awareness and using location-based technology, Bloomscape was able to boost its sales and create loyal customers that will keep returning for more. Talk about a win-win!

Shanghai Rolex Masters

Billboard in airport with tennis players and a QR code to scan.

An OOH advertising campaign was created to promote the Shanghai Rolex Masters event and run a competition for consumers. The campaign put up billboards at the Shanghai airport for 20 days and used beacon technology to invite people to shake their phones using the Wechat app so that they could play a tennis game on their smartphone and win VIP tickets to the tennis tournament with a lucky draw. The campaign also included exclusive mobile content such as videos of the championship tennis games. Over the span of the campaign, there were over 2,600 shakes performed by people in the airport. This limited-time offer created high conversion rates and consumer engagement as people got into the competitive spirit to win the VIP tickets. The beacon technology that the advertiser used created a sense of urgency for users to participate for the chance to win the game and get a free limited-time promotion out of it. Check out this cool video to see the billboard and mobile game in action!

To Conclude

By combining the modern technology that smartphones have to offer with outdoor advertising, it becomes evident that this is the perfect marketing tactic to gain lifelong customer loyalty.  By obtaining valuable feedback through technology such as Geofencing, beacon, and QR codes, advertisers are able to track data to further expand their sales strategies like never before. Advertisers can now captivate their audience with the enhancement in user experiences by knowing exactly who to target and when. This invaluable information is what will keep the OOH advertising industry at the forefront for years to come.

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