OOH vs. Outdoor vs. Out of Home: A Marketer’s Linguistic Juggle

As those of us spending our day in the outdoor advertising media channel work hard to grab more market share in the advertising media world, we have many conversations.  Some are with potential clients already familiar with OOH.  Others are with potential clients less familiar, or completely unfamiliar, with out-of-home.

People in this second pool of potential OOH advertisers are always familiar with two terms: billboards and outdoor advertising.  In my conversations with them, if I say “out of home” or “OOH”, I will hear silence or “out of home, what’s that?”. And so, the explanation starts:  “Well, in the industry, that’s often —but not always— how we refer to the media, because the media  is —as a general rule— found outside of a consumer’s home … ‘OOH’ is a shorter acronym, but ‘outdoor advertising’ is really interchangeable with them both.” Did you follow that?  I would understand if you did not.

Such is the verbal juggle of any marketing person promoting outdoor advertising as we try to simplify and streamline in-person, phone, and online conversations about the reasons to take a deeper look at — oh what should I use this time? I guess I’ll go with … out-of-home.

Recently there has been an even deeper tangential conversation in the industry about whether the correct spelling is “out-of-home” or “out of home” with no hyphens. I won’t even start down that luge track of advertising linguistics!

These 3 terms (outdoor advertising, out-of-home, OOH) are so entrenched in the various sectors that provide, and need, our media that it is too late for using a single term.  Even the OAAA, (the Outdoor Advertising Association of America) is perpetually caught up in the juggling between their name and heavy website content reliance on “OOH” which is of course the acronym for … well, you get it the point by now.

So what are you going to call it?  Really, it doesn’t really matter in the long run if we can bypass all of that and get to using the media creatively and effectively to reach your audience, goals, and show your team just how great your further foray into this advertising media channel has been for you.

So pick a term, any term, and stick with it.  You can leave the linguistic media juggle to the out-of-home, out of home, outdoor advertising, OOH professionals.

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Jerry Buckley
Director of Strategic Partnerships,EMC Outdoor
With 17 years of OOH experience, Jerry has spoken on the Outdoor Advertising Association of America's (OAAA) panel at their national convention, and acted as a judge for the OAAA Media Plan Awards. When not thinking about out of home and experiential, Jerry spends his time with other creative endeavors: music, design and happy family.

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