5 rules of effective street panel ads

The humble street panel is the bread and butter of most outdoor advertising campaigns. It’s so ubiquitous that it can be easy to think that by simply booking out street panels you will get results. Actually, there is as much art as there is science to effective street panel advertising.

This guide looks at some of the hidden rules that can help you get the most out of your street panel campaign.

1. Keep your design simple and impactful

The average attention span of a passer-by is around 2-3 seconds. And there is lots of noise in an often-saturated OOH street environment. So your design needs to not only stand out, but have a simplicity that delivers a single message clearly and with lots of impact. Don’t clutter your design with complex ideas and layers of information. Pick one impactful idea and really pull out all the stops to sell it.

Your message is not a hieroglyphic to be decoded by dedicated passersby, so legibility trumps aesthetics any day. Don’t use a boring font, but do use one that’s effortlessly legible and that can be read from the approach as well as close up.

Do the “arms length test“. Print your artwork out on a business card; if it can’t be read from arms length, your idea is too complicated. Go back and tweak the design until it passes the test.

2. Understand the why and wherefore of your ad placement

What’s the prime environment in which to place your street panel? If you’re a retail store, you’ll want to place ads near your outlet. If you’re in a shopping mall, maybe target the local transport hub, like bus stops or the nearest train station.

If you want people to engage with your ad via mobile, perhaps via social media, bus stops are good sites to place your ads. Bus commuters have plenty of dwell time whilst waiting at bus stops, and whilst on the bus itself, to engage with your campaign via social media, QR codes, or NFC tech.

3. Research the competition

Why not take your marketing team on a day out, walking the streets and looking for examples of how your competitors place their ads? This will give you a more objective perspective on what works and what doesn’t.

Make a note on a map where you saw standout ads. Were they placed in a location appropriate to their target audience? Was it a mega corporation placing an ad or a small/medium sized business? What was most effective about the ad? Think about how what elements can be applied to your own concepts.

4. Timing is everything for street panel advertising

Is this a short-burst campaign geared around a time-limited special offer or a one-off event like a store opening or TV premiere? Street ads can be booked in short two-week blocks which gives you plenty of flexibility.

Or are you engaged in a long-term brand building strategy? Think seriously about purchasing long-term outdoor advertising. This is great for building awareness and brand engagement, reserving the best locations, engaging with new customers, and more.

5. Know your objectives

There’s an obvious allure to a national campaign colonising high streets up and down the country. Not only is this out of the question for most small or medium businesses, but this can be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

If your campaign only achieves one goal, what should it be? Advertising a new store opening? Creating an uptick in sales for a new product range? Driving more users to your URL?

Once you know your main objective you now have a concrete way to measure the success of your ad. It also means that all your resources are directed at achieving that one goal.

Planning your street ad is essentially about reverse engineering your desired objectives, asking yourself, if I want to achieve X, what would I have to do to achieve that? What would that look like in practice?

With these five rules of effective street panel advertising you are not guaranteed success, but if you want a chance at winning the game, it helps to understand the rules.

For more in-depth tips, you may want to check out our post on How To Advertise Outdoors.