OoH advertising, or Out-of-Home advertising, is any form of advertisement that you encounter in real life when you’re outside of your home; when walking or driving to work, at the bus station or airport, at the supermarket or at a restaurant.

It takes a myriad of forms and can be anything as large as a billboard on the highway or a branded bus, a poster at the supermarket aisle, or as small as the complimentary key chain you receive from your favorite telecommunications provider.

The Evolution of Out-of-Home Advertising

Out-of-Home advertising has its root in early civilizations. Thousands of years ago, Egyptians chiseled messages in stone obelisks to communicate laws, treaties and events, setting the stage for OoH advertising as we know it today.

Hand-painted leaflets became popular in the 17th Century, being used to pass on news and information on events. The advent of lithographic printing in the 18th Century ushered in the popularity of posters and large signage, which early merchants used to publicize their wares.

The posters and signs grew in size as lithographic technology advanced, but it was not until the invention of the automobile in late 19th Century that the growth of Out-of-Home advertising exploded, when pioneer marketers realized there was an opportunity to utilize long stretches of road to entice travelers to landmarks and attractions in towns and cities, and to market their products.

As motor vehicles became faster, billboard signs became larger in order to be more visible. Vehicles also became a medium for placing customized advertising messages, as did buildings and storefronts.

The practice of renting out billboard advertising space also became popular around this time, when real estate investors realized they were sitting on a goldmine, and within no time the billboard advertising industry as we know it was born.

LED-lit billboards became popular at the turn of the 21st Century and today, billboards are no longer restricted to roadside signage – virtually all street furniture- from sides of buildings, to bus stops, street lights and shop windows – has the potential to become an advertising platform.

The Global Scene

Today, the global Out-of-Home advertising industry is estimated to be worth over US$ 25 Billion and is expected to grow to US$35.5 Billion by 2025, according to The Out-of-Home Advertising Global Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery to 2030 report by The Business Research Company. The billboard advertising market is the largest market segment, accounting for 43% of total spend in 2020.

The Local Context

In Kenya, the OOH Advertising market in has registered a consistent upward growth trajectory over the last 10 years, with perhaps the exception of 2020, registering spends of over Kes 1.7 Billion in the first half of 2021 against total advertising spend of Kes 60.3 Billion, as reported in The State of Media in Advertising Spends H1 2021 Report by The International School of Advertising and ReelAnalytics. Betting and Gambling was the top spending industry during the period, registering spends of Kes 7 Billion during the period.

The report further predicts an 18% growth in advertising spend in 2022, in anticipation of the electioneering period and an overall market rebound.

There are a total of 2,166 billboard sites in the country, with Nairobi accounting for 54% of site presence countrywide.

What is the Future of OoH Advertising?

The interaction between brands and consumers has been evolving rapidly, propelled by the acceleration of the digital age and the Covid-19 pandemic. After being forced to connect mainly through screens, there’s the heightened tendency by consumers to appreciate the outdoors when outside. Customers also have more control of the messages they see, and data privacy remains a real concern, making

Just as in many other sectors, technological advancements have revolutionized the advertising industry, enabling the use of smart sensors, fully digital billboards that can scroll through several images in a minute and that allow 3D elements, and facial recognition software that can further customize messaging and engagement.

Outdoor advertising remains ideal for creative, groundbreaking displays, and is the only traditional medium that’s prime for integrating the digital and mobile worlds through technological advances like QRT codes and large format video displays.

Increased infrastructural developments and rising urbanization is expected to continue driving the industry’s growth, and as technological advancements continue to evolve and consumers continue to demand more engaging, non-invasive brand messages, there are truly no limits to the capabilities of out-of-home advertising.


About the Author.

Carol M. Nyaga is passionate about helping brands and businesses harness the power of Marketing Communications and Out-of-Home Advertising to drive business growth. She has 20 years’ experience in developing and implementing effective marketing and communications strategies and plans.

She is the Marketing and Business Development Director at BMA OoH Advertising.