Out of Home Advertising – A Brief History

Posted by: Richard Williams | Posted on: | 1 Comments

Outdoor advertising is perhaps the oldest form of advertising there is. Indeed, long before the Internet, TV and radio, out of home advertising was the only form advertising in existence.

Perhaps the Egyptians were the first to use outdoor advertising, as decrees and public information have been found inscribed on obelisks dating back over a thousand years BC.

Shopkeepers in Europe began using outdoor signs a millennium ago too. Most of these were symbols such as the barber’s pole, which is still in use in some places today—making it one of the world’s oldest advertising symbols.

It wasn’t until the invention of the printing press (Gutenberg c, 1450) that outdoor advertising really took off with the introduction of handbills. Soon illustrated printed posters followed as improvements in printing developed and outdoor advertising became ubiquitous.

By the nineteenth century, posters, billboards and sandwich boards were incredibly popular with high streets, railway stations and thoroughfares adorned with advertisements from all sorts of industries.

Outdoor advertising reached a peak during wartime with appeals for public assistance to help the war effort mixed in with general advertising, many of which have become famous and iconic today.

Even with the advent of TV and commercial radio, outdoor advertising never waned, and it is still a powerful advertising medium today—even with the internet and other modern technologies.

Digital Signage

Digital signage—the use of LCD screens as out of home adverts—has increased the effectiveness of outdoor advertising and helped to propel it into the twenty-first century.

Increasingly, digital signage screens are replacing static posters and other forms of out of home advertising. Even outdoor digital signage is becoming popular with giant billboards now seen along highways and LCD displays around high streets.

With many advantages of digital signage over static imagery, including more eye-catching content, the ability to show moving images, and to have content uploaded remotely, digital signage is set to become an even more common sight and will ensure outdoor advertising is just as important a form of marketing as it has always been.

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