From the May 2000 issue of Entrepreneur

Is your present advertising campaign buried in an avalanche of competing messages? Instead of waiting for customers or prospects to find your ads, would you like a way to place them right under their noses?

New forms of out-of-home advertising are springing up everywhere, and they help advertisers do just that. They're called place-based media, since the locations themselves draw the audience to the advertising. Traditional forms of out-of-home advertising, including billboards and transit advertising, are now being joined by innovative, new place-based media that work because they let you fish where the fish are. From advertising on movie screens, at theme parks and resorts, to advertising on taxi tops, truck-mounted billboards, video monitors in airports and malls, and even posters on restroom walls in bars and restaurants, now there's a media opportunity to fit every type of business and budget.

Place-based advertising will allow you to:

  • Advertise free of competing messages. If you live in a major city, you've seen the specially designed, truck-mounted billboards that carry a single advertiser's message to viewers along predetermined routes. Taxi-top and bus-shelter ads also allow urban advertisers to communicate their messages unencumbered by competition. If your prospects can't be found on city streets, your message can take to the air. Let's say you own a small restaurant in a beach community. You could have an aerial advertising company fly a banner with your message up and down local beaches. This form of aerial advertising would really stand out, compared to a campaign relying on the local entertainment guide, where prospects would see your ad among dozens of others.
  • Use environmental stimulation. Imagine you're riding a ski lift up a mountainside preparing for your second run-and you see an ad for soup. Chances are having a hot bowl of soup would sound like a great idea. Now suppose you're sitting in your family room after dinner, watching television, and a soup commercial comes on. Are you going to be as receptive to the message?

Place-based advertising that relies on environmental stimulation is effective because it guarantees that ads will be seen by those who are in the best frame of mind for your message. The key is to choose the right medium for your company. For example, you can now run ads in slide form on movie screens across the country. This type of advertising works best for marketing entertainment venues or consumer products and services to adults ages 18 to 49, the primary movie-going demographic. So movie- theater ads would probably not be effective for a management consulting company, because the tone of the message would appear out of place.

  • Reach prospects where it matters most. If you have a pet, you know that veterinary waiting rooms are chock-full of pamphlets and posters with helpful information paid for by manufacturers of products you can purchase while you're there. Depending on the type of products or services you market, look for opportunities to communicate information in environments that lend credibility to your message when prospects are closest to the point of sale.
  • Find lower-cost advertising alternatives. The cost to run a one-third-page, black-and-white ad in a major daily newspaper on a single day costs more than $5,000. On the other hand, for less than $500, you could run your ad three times before every movie on all eight screens at a local cineplex-for a full week. For many entrepreneurs, place-based media offers an opportunity to affordably launch or expand their campaigns. To find the right type of opportunities for your company, consult the Standard Rate and Data Service (SRDS) directory called Out-of-Home Advertising Source or visit www.srds.com.