A Guide to Competitive Media

RAB's new Competitive Media section gives you complete access to the latest information profiling 10 competitive media. Each profile contains a complete whitepaper as well as the advantages, disadvantages and plus Radio for each medium.

This section also gives you the option to build custom media profiles reflecting specific talking points in a colorful, street-ready one sheet.


  • Outdoor advertising, sometimes referred to as out-of-home advertising, is made up of more than 100 different formats. The outdoor industry includes over 2,100 operators throughout the nation, ranging from multinational media corporations to small, family-owned businesses. (Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2011)

    Outdoor advertising formats fall into one of five major categories: Billboards (including traditional and digital roadside signs, murals, posters, etc.); Street Furniture (including bus shelters, newsracks, mall kiosks, etc.); Transit (including buses, subways, taxis, etc.); Alternative (including stadiums, airborne, marine vessels, etc.); and Cinema. (Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2011)

    Revenues for outdoor advertising grew 4.1% in 2010 to approximately $6.1 billion. (Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2011)

    Billboards accounted for 65% of overall outdoor ad revenue in 2010, compared to 16% for the Transit category, 11% for Cinema, 6% for Street Furniture, and 2% for Alternative. (Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2011)

    Ad revenues for digital out-of-home media increased 24.5% in 2010 to $1.1 billion. (Digital Place-Based Advertising Association, 2011)

    Billboard revenue is comprised of 73% local ads, 18% national ads, and 9% public service ads. (Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2011)

    The top 10 outdoor advertising categories of 2010: 1. Miscellaneous Services & Amusements; 2.Media & Advertising; 3. Retail; 4. Public Transportation, Hotels & Resorts; 5. Restaurants; 6. Communications; 7. Financial; 8. Insurance & Real Estate; 9. Government, Politics & Organizations; 10. Automotive Dealers & Services. (Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2011)

    The top two outdoor media companies in the world are Clear Channel Outdoor and JCDecaux. Other large outdoor advertising companies include Lamar Advertising and CBS Outdoor. (Hoovers, 2011)

    The top 10 outdoor advertisers of 2010 were: 1. McDonald's; 2. Verizon Long Distance; 3. AT&T Wireless; 4. Verizon Wireless; 5. Warner Brothers Pictures; 6. GEICO; 7. Metro PCS; 8. Coca-Cola; 9. State Farm; 10. Chase Bank. (Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2011)

    A study funded by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America found that 63% of consumers rely on billboards (conventional and digital) when they are traveling to learn about local attractions, lodging and restaurants. (Outdoor Advertising Association of America, 2011)

  • Attention Grabbing: The combination of size, color and illumination attracts attention.

    Strategic Placement: Billboards can be placed in high-traffic areas or other strategic locations, while transit signs can be affixed to the backs and sides of buses, in bus stops, and in rail stations.

    Low Cost: Based on research by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, outdoor’s cost-per-thousand is significantly lower than any other advertising medium.

    Building Word of Mouth: Billboards can generate curiosity in "teaser" campaigns.

    Full-Time Audience: Outdoor's message can appear year-round. For additional fees, outdoor advertisers can purchase evening lighting – or in some cases, even 24-hour illumination.

    Directional: Billboards can be used as directionals, guiding consumers to the location of a given business.

  • Brevity: The very nature of outdoor advertising demands that the commercial message be brief and relatively simple. Therefore, it is difficult to communicate product details, competitive advantages, and specific consumer benefits. Billboard companies generally recommend no more than seven words on a billboard, or people speeding by will not have time to read the message.

    Limited Availability: Prime outdoor locations (in high-traffic areas) often are controlled by large, long-term advertisers. Construction of new billboards is restricted by costs, space availability, and sometimes-rigid municipal codes and environmental regulations.

    Lack of Effective Measuring Tools: Unlike other advertising media, outdoor advertising has no truly reliable method to measure its effectiveness. A few studies have been done, but they mostly apply to limited geographical areas and employ widely varying methodologies.

    Low Recall: Commuters behind the wheel and other potential customers are exposed very briefly to outdoor messages, minimizing message retention. Such adverse conditions as heavy traffic or bad weather also can limit message impact and recall.

    Ugly Image: Because of growing environmental concerns, many communities have eliminated, reduced, or limited the volume and placement of outdoor advertising.

    Inflexible: Once a message is up, it generally stays up through the duration of the contract, even if the advertiser's needs have changed. In addition, printing a new message is expensive, possibly taking weeks to produce and days or weeks to have it displayed.

  • Power of Sound: To be effective, billboard messages must be brief. That’s where Radio can help. Use Radio to enhance and expand on the message displayed in your billboard showing.

    Reach and Recall: Radio blankets the market. Your outdoor message can be seen only where it is displayed, but Radio allows your message to travel with your customers wherever they go – at home or at the office as well as in the car. By combining Radio with outdoor, you can build your message’s range and frequency – and reach more of your customers more often building recall.

    Personal Connection: The Radio Ad Lab (RAL) shows that Radio listeners enjoy listening to their station and believe the advertiser's message is directed toward them.

    Flexible: Radio gives you the option to easily make copy changes. Use Outdoor for image, and Radio for timely information. A billboard can grab your customers' attention; Radio can give them the details. By combining these two complementary marketing forces, Radio can deliver all the information on your products and services your customers need in order to make intelligent purchasing decisions.

    Bad weather and adverse traffic conditions: Both are known to decrease outdoor ad exposure, but Radio listening actually increases under these circumstances. American consumers depend on their car Radios for weather and traffic reports, so billboards and Radio make an effective drive-time combination.

Other Competitive Media Resources

In this section, you'll find links to information profiling media OTHER than radio. Below are links to Weekly Sales Meetings, Whitepapers, special reports and other articles that you can use to help your advertisers understand the important role of Radio in supporting ANY marketing effort.

Please make your selection from the lists below and don't forget, you can always call RAB's Member Response Helpline at 1-800-232-3131 for more information.