Very large outdoor formats drive advertising ‘multiplier effect’

Very large outdoor formats drive advertising ‘multiplier effect’
Big outdoor screen: Global site in Holborn, central London.

A variety of large screen outdoor formats builds more brand awareness and experience “a multiplier effect” across categories.

A new study by Global and Differentology has reported on how combining different outdoor formats and environments has brand cut-through, salience and mental penetration, as per marketing professor Byron Sharp’s Theory of Mental Availability and How Brands Grow.

These three terms link to brand recall. Cut-through is defined as spontaneous ad awareness, salience as when a brand is spontaneously associated with the category, and mental penetration as the proportion of people that associate a test brand with at least one category entry point, so the brand is readily available in a buying situation.

The study showed each participant two 90-second videos with one creative from a selection of 36 from across the country. It used a control cell which were not exposed to any advertising, a test cell which was shown two 48-sheet ads, and 18 multi-format test cells which were shown a 48-sheet video before a video of either a Digital Mega 6-Sheet, a Digital 96-Sheet, a Backlit 96-Sheet, a Digital 48-sheet or a London Underground Digital Gateway.

The videos were shot from the point of view of a pedestrian or driver to show a journey by car, on foot, or walking through a London Underground station to more than 5,350 participants. A sample size that Global says makes it the largest study of its kind.

The videos were filmed in Glasgow, Manchester, and London to ensure regional diversity, variety of classic and digital formats in multiple locations, and roadside, pedestrian and transport inventory.

The study found 20% of those in their control sample with no ad exposure named one of the test brands. This rose to 38% amongst the group exposed to two 48-sheets, and the 50% of those shown two different large outdoor formats. This equated to a 150% increase in advertising cut-through between the control and those shown a variety of large screens.

According to data from Space, Global has the most out-of-home screens out of the top four outdoor media owners, followed by Clear Channel, JCDecaux and Ocean Outdoor.

Another finding was that using a mix of a static 48-sheet and digital 48-sheet, or a static 48-sheet and London Underground Digital Gateway both registered a 49% uplift in mental penetration, compared to the control group which recorded 30% mental penetration.

Global Multiplicity report chart on mental penetration.


The brand-building impact of multiple formats of large outdoor screens applied across these three metrics in motors, telecoms and finance.

The report also found this multiplier effect of large outdoor formats on cut-through, salience and mental penetration applied to 18- 34s, the hardest to reach target audience, with an increase of 156% in cut-through between the control group and those that saw two different large outdoor formats.

Global is testing more campaigns using this methodology “in the real world”. Through testing five campaigns it has found uplifts from the control group of more than 50% on salience (55%), cut-through (82%) and mental penetration (63%).

‘Counter to misleading narratives’

Steve Taylor, joint-chief strategy officer at media agency VCCP Media, said of the findings: “Gathering hard evidence to prove why out-of-home should be on a media plan has been frustrated by a dearth of evidence in recent years. Instead we’ve had to rely on outdated material, or broad media market reports that might only mention outdoor in passing.

He said the report “acts as a counter to any half-formed or misleading narratives” about outdoors’s role in the media mix and reveals its “true brand building credentials” and impact on different facets of mental availability.

Taylor also said the multiplier effect, showing not just an increase in frequency makes a different, but use of different formats, was “a unique and valuable insight for planning teams”.

He added: “There are a lot of advertisers unsure which way to go at the moment; who feel their digital investments are becoming saturated, that search can only do so much for them, and that inflation is outpricing them on other mass market channels.

“Knowing what different media channels are best at doing, and how to leverage them to the absolute fullest when budgets are under pressure, is reassuring to clients. And in the moments that matter, it’s clear out-of-home can serve a brand very well indeed.”

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

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