Outdoor Advertising Recall

A Comparison of Newer Technology and Traditional Billboards

Anne Cunningham
Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University, United States

Renita Coleman
Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University, United States


The definition of outdoor has changed dramatically as the industry has developed new outdoor media formats in response to the needs of advertisers. Today, outdoor means billboards; but it also means street furniture and transit advertising . . . as well as other alternate formats” (OAAA, “Facts and Figures,” 2003).

Technological advances have fueled the growth in outdoor formats, making outdoor bigger, brighter and more interactive. Transit advertising “can now talk to you (via short wave radio links), download data into your Palm Pilot (through a patented Street Beam device), connect you to the internet (via souped up taxi tops), and change as you pass by (through motion detectors)” (OAAA 2003b). While the term outdoor (also called out-of-home) has expanded to cover a number of advertising formats, billboards still account for 60% of all outdoor advertising spending (OAAA 2003b). Having come a long way since the days of hand-painted, two-dimensional signs, billboards now feature three-dimensional figures such as the Chik-fil-a cows and can cover entire buildings such as the Godzilla board that covered one entire side of the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles (Jensen, 1998). Signs designed as a set of triangular columns have replaced many static boards, allowing three messages to continually rotate. Taking the technology further, “smart boards,” which look like giant flat-screen televisions, can upload images via telephone lines, allowing outdoor companies to change billboard images from second to second.