Chances are, you’ve probably come across ambient advertising in your day-to-day life without realizing that’s what it was. Ambient advertising is all about making your product or brand a part of people’s everyday experience in unexpected ways.

The best examples of ambient advertising don’t look anything like traditional ads. They’re designed to draw the eye and show the viewer a new twist on something familiar. Ambient advertising takes specific environments and uses clever messages to subvert the expectations of the people in that space and create a memorable interaction with the brand.

Highly public places are ideal for ambient advertising—think bathrooms, elevators, bars, sports stadiums, universities, and shopping centers. Other approaches include creative use of billboards, or using the sky as advertising via planes, helicopters, or even drones. However, there’s definitely no tried-and-true method: ads can be placed in any kind of space they “don’t belong”—such as ceilings, floors, stairway railings, crosswalks, and more.

Before committing to ambient advertising, be sure to weigh your predicted success against the logistical challenges. Depending on how extensive and permanent the installation is, ambient ads can be expensive and potentially require long-term commitment. If the costs are likely to be high, but you’re not sure how many people you’ll actually be able to reach, you may want to try a different method.

Because ambient ads are often tied to a distinct location, they target whoever happens to travel through that specific space. This means that the ambient ads typically have a smaller capacity to reach people than, say, a digital ad. This can be countered by placing ads in high traffic areas, which creates a wider reach. However, the wider the variety of people who will be exposed to the ad is, the more difficult it is to accurately evaluate a specific target audience.

It’s possible to get around the limits created by the ad being stuck in one location. One possibility is to advertise on public transportation, like buses or trains, which cover a lot of ground. This can also mean that the viewers on the street who are exposed to the ad will see it for a shorter amount of time. Other possibilities include using portable items and apparel (such as coasters, bags, glasses, t-shirts, coffee cups, etc.), presented in unique ways.

Because there’s generally less space and time to communicate information about the product, service, or brand, ambient ads must make their mark with their originality and ability to catch the viewer’s attention. Plus, the more creative the ad, the more likely that it will gain attention on the internet, which will allow a far wider range of people to view and share it, creating a reach far beyond those who see it firsthand.

Ambient ads are a powerful approach that can be incorporated into a strategic marketing campaign. Their whimsy and uniqueness allows them to act as an extension of their environment, creating an inside joke between the brand and the viewer. When done correctly, they result in a memorable experience and form a personal connection with the brand.

Creative Spot is a full-service marketing and advertising agency in Columbus, Ohio. If you would like to learn more about how we can help your organization with strategic marketing, please contact us.

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