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The hidden power of OOH advertising
The role of psychology in outdoor advertising

The hidden power of OOH advertising

The hidden power of OOH advertising

OOH ads are the ads most likely to trigger an emotional response from consumers.Emotions directly affect the decision-making process.Customers do not always make their purchasing decisions in a rational manner, and the subconscious mind is significantly influenced by the feelings generated by creative advertising and channels such as outdoor advertising media.

Psychology plays a significant role in all successful marketing campaigns. Why? Because it is closely related to human emotions. People tend to be emotionally driven and give special meaning to those material things that either evoke certain emotions in them, or result from a specific psychological need, or resemble who they want to be perceived as. OOH ads, as the only media, have the greatest power to engage people, build brand awareness and evoke specific emotional reactions in recipients. Emotions are considered to be one of the main factors influencing purchasing decisions, they determine the way people decide to buy products. Statistics suggest that emotions are the driving force behind about 50% of all purchasing decisions. Phillip Adcock1, an expert in the field of consumer behavior, found that when making purchasing decisions, the ratio of emotions to rational reasoning significantly tilts to the side of feelings:

  • emotional reactions are 3000 times faster than rational reactions,
  • the emotional parts of the brain process sensory stimuli 5 times faster than those responsible for rational thinking,
  • The ratio of emotional persuasion to reason is 24:1.


The hidden power of OOH advertising

OOH advertising can significantly help to engage consumers, which will directly translate into building a brand image and increasing profits. However, outdoor advertising has another hidden power that most consumers may not be aware of. This is the power of our unconscious mind.

The hidden power of OOH advertising is the power of the unconscious mind

The brain processes data from outdoor advertising, regardless of whether the consumer is watching it consciously or not. According to some estimates, the image on billboards, both traditional and digital ones, is regularly viewed and consciously processed by at least 71% of the population. Other psychological research proves that billboards engage recipients regardless of whether the presented advertisement is viewed consciously or unconsciously. How does it happen? Science says that the unconscious mind has the power to process as much as 11 million pieces of information per second, which are received by the sense organs. The conscious mind, on the other hand, has less ability to process large amounts of data in real time – it is able to process only 40 pieces of information per second2. Conclusion? Billboards are seen by consumers, even if they are unaware of it. Therefore, if companies want to build their brand, engage recipients effectively and increase profits, they must use those marketing channels that are able to evoke an emotional response, i.e. invest in OOH advertising.

OOH advertising and psychology

OOH ads have an impact on the audience, no matter they watch them consciously or not. Even if consumers do not pay attention to outdoor advertising, their brain registers the images on a subconscious level. What’s more, the human eye perceives the presented content in a fixed way – it moves along the image in a linear, Z-shaped way. Hence, the information at the top and in the middle of the advertising board is absorbed more easily than the information “scattered” throughout the image.

 “95% of our purchasing decisions are made unconsciously and only then are they justified by logic

Research conducted by Harvard Business School professor, Gerald Zaltman,3 shows that “95% of our purchasing decisions are made unconsciously and only then are they justified by logic”. However, in addition to the fact that consumers have an unconscious reaction to stimuli (dictated by basic feelings and intuition), advertisers use additional “stimulators” in their campaigns, which enhance the process of fixing the image in memory and effectively induce purchase:

– emotions used in campaigns. The ad distinguishes 6 “basic feelings” that are used to evoke strong emotional reactions, including: happiness, anger, disgust, sadness, fear, surprise,

– colour. It plays an important role in attracting the eye to the advertising message, in a conscious and unconscious way (so-called colour psychology). Vivid and eye-catching colors, referring to the visual identity of the brand and its current palette, can directly affect the minds of customers, evoke a specific reaction and, above all, improve the recognition of OOH advertising.

An important psychological factor that directs customers’ purchasing decisions is the fact that they attach great importance to brands they already know. They treat such brands as a priority. Why? This is related to the natural instinct of attracting items that fall within the comfort zone of consumers. Customers prefer to do things that give them a sense of satisfaction, comfort and security, rather than trying new things that are outside their comfort zones. In general, people are resistant to change, even those that may seem positive. OOH advertising is the medium that allows you to “get to know” the recipients more closely. Depending on the location of the advertising medium (the selection of which will be effectively advised by the BE Media Agency), consumers come into contact with the OOH message every day (or even several times a day). Thus, when shopping, they can easily recall a given brand (because they know it better) and they are more likely to buy it.


It turns out that psychology is a strong foundation for successful advertising campaigns and successful relationships with consumers. It refers strictly to emotions that have a great power to direct both unconscious and conscious decisions of customers. Consumers, on the other hand, tend to engage with brands with which they can emotionally connect. The issue of trust in OOH can also be a reinforcement here. According to Nielsen research, outdoor advertising is one of the most trusted advertising media – 56% of customers unconditionally trust this medium, and another 58% are willing to take direct action after seeing an advertisement.


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Joanna Pełech-Mikulska

Charismatic manager of the creative and client department of BE Media agency. A graduate of economics, political science and management. The author of numerous publications in the field of advertising, marketing and persuasion in communication. She has always been associated with marketing, and above all with creative outdoor advertising. She took her first professional steps in marketing departments in the United States, where she completed a 2-year graduate internship. After returning to Poland, she worked in the Polish branch of an American technology company, where she was responsible for the company's day-to-day contacts with Polish media and key business partners. The author of texts and a traveller with a passion for singing who adheres to the principle that there are no short-cuts to success.