Creating Effective Outdoor Advertisement


The key to effective outdoor design is BREVITY. Simple, clear, and concise designs are the best way to get the most bang for your outdoor buck.

 The ideal outdoor ad only contains three basic elements; an image or graphic, a copy line, and a company name or logo. The purpose of the image is to grab the viewers’ attention and make them look at the ad. The copy line is used to describe the product, service or message being advertised. Finally the logo or company name is there to let the viewer know where to get the product or service. Detailed descriptions and long lists of products and services should be left for websites, mailers and brochures.


The average viewable time of a bulletin is around 7 seconds. Keep in mind, no one can pull their eyes off of the road and focus on your ad for the full 7 seconds. Try to keep copy to around 9 words.


Readability is another key factor in good outdoor ads. It’s a good idea to stay away from overly ornate or fancy typefaces. Keep in mind the viewing distances in outdoor as you select the type used in the ad.


Another important aspect in outdoor design is good contrast. The stronger the contrast between the background and copy, the easier it is read from a distance. Use dark text on light backgrounds and light text on dark backgrounds.


Be sure to use typefaces that are easy to read. Fancy and ornate fonts should only be used sparingly if at all.

Fonts for Outdoor Advertising

Avoid using low contrast color combinations when picking your text and background colors. Low contrast hurts readability.Low Contrast Typefaces for Outdoor Advertising

Using high contrast color combinations will help the readability of your design at any viewing distance. Strong contrast equals better readability.High Contrast Typefaces for Outdoor Advertising


A good way to measure the Brevity of a design is to stand in front of someone about 6 feet away, and hold up the design printed on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. Pull the design back down after 5 seconds and have them recite what they were able to retain from the ad in that amount of time and distance.

Outdoor Advertising Best Practices

If all of the designs elements were digested, you have an effective outdoor ad! Good job!

If only the name was remembered, it’s not perfect, but if all the viewer gets out of the ad is your name, it’s not a total loss. You might want to emphasize some of the other pertinent information.

If the only thing recalled does not directly relate to the advertiser in the design, it’s time to re-think the ad. Try removing any unnecessary information and emphasize the main points of the design, the copy line, or advertiser’s name or even a directional if that’s the main purpose of the advertisement.

Image Credit: Lamar, The Hangline