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Industry Forum: Is OOH better at generating brand awareness than driving a call to action?

We asked: Is OOH better at generating brand awareness than driving a call to action?

Akshaya Singh Sikand

Head of marketing, Cadillac


While OOH certainly ensures greater visibility and impact, with a sizeable number of commuters whizzing by daily, it also offers a crushingly short three-second window to communicate your message. In most cases, it severely lacks the luxury of time, which is why the medium is better suited to build brand recall or to communicate a product, service or feature than driving action in that brief moment when the viewer’s attention is divided, with external forces at play.

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Carla Klumpenaar

Marketing, communication, HF and retail design (UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman), IKEA Al-Futtaim


Out-of-home (OOH) media gives us the opportunity to drive brand awareness and affinity with the potential to reach a large percentage of the population every single day, making it an integral component of the marketing mix and not just brand advertising. It helps us to be tactile with location and dynamic with our messaging. OOH positions itself as the ideal medium for delivering purposeful brand-led objectives ensuring brand resonance and loyalty remain on top of minds in a larger and long-term way.

Ghassan Kalash

Media director, Havas Media Middle East


OOH advertising, in its traditional sense, is better at leveraging brand awareness than driving a
call to action. 

OOH advertising, especially large formats, serves as a canvas that can bring a brand to life visually. It generates high-impact awareness rather than driving an instantaneous CTA that we’re accustomed to in the digital realm. This, in turn, leads to guiding consumers further into the sales funnel. Whether that action results in follow-up measures in response to seeing an ad or eventually purchasing a product, OOH ads are extremely effective. Especially, when it comes to enticing consumers to take action, as a result of the impact the brand has had on them. The numbers speak for themselves: OOH media grew by 176 per cent from $358m in 2020 to $986m in 2021 in MENA. However, OOH is often underestimated and still not adequately measured in our region, but that is changing slowly.

Melek Ourir

Strategic planning manager, FP7 McCann Dubai


If we were to measure the efficiency of driving app downloads and/or promotions through a Sheikh Zayed Road hoarding versus native ads, chances are OOH would perform poorly. 

As a broadcast medium, OOH excels at delivering wide coverage and visual impact, and even plays a halo effect on other channels’ performance. This kind of exposure matters because it influences how creative work is processed and builds memory structures that are essential to maintaining sustainable brands. In fact, research shows that OOH brings twice as much impact in the long run, defying the norms of short-term marketing and even shorter attention spans.

Mitin Chakraborty

Head of marketing, Babyshop


 It is certainly more effective to drive brand objectives than trying to drive any other niche calls to action (CTAs). Whilst OOH enabled with data and tech is evolving to the middle of the funnel, the core still lies in its strength as a mass-media, top-of-the-funnel driver. Most OOH assets are limited to a few seconds of exposure. Thus, making them very effective for a short, crisp brand message or compelling visual branding. In our industry, we use it as a strong brand-recall agent, and it has time and again proven to be very effective.

Mohamad Al Azzawe

Head of brand marketing and digital, Samsung Electronics


OOH advertising is one of the oldest marketing formats and has been around for centuries, and with time the role of OOH has evolved to serve multiple brand objectives. 

I strongly believe that OOH is better at generating fast and mass brand awareness. However, with the right ingredients, it can serve other business needs, such as a CTA to activate and boost sales. 

With the right creative and the integration of digital in OOH, it becomes a tool that encourages mobile engagement. For all this to work, we need to keep in mind a few criteria: location, digital integration for changeability, and eye-catching displays or cut-outs. The CTA should be short, sweet and sharable. Check who is around and reduce the clutter.

Paul Abouchacra

Manager, Media Mix Advertising


OOH is a brand awareness medium; getting your brand in front of a broad audience is what this channel does best. Research has shown that OOH is the most effective medium when it comes to increasing brand awareness and recall. 

A call to action is relatively related to the product characteristic, likeability and special offers; so, OOH will put your message out there in front of everybody to see, but how your target audience interacts or reacts depends solely on how good the delivery of the message is. OOH is the messenger, and your message is guaranteed delivery. So, it’s a big yes for brand awareness.

Reham Nader Mufleh

General manager, Horizon FCB Dubai


Even though OOH can achieve both, it’s more impactful at generating brand awareness, especially at strategic locations with high traffic. It’s a mass medium that guarantees instant impact, memorable messages and, most importantly, high reach to a wider audience, whether driving the highways or walking through the neighbourhoods and malls. This is ideal at the awareness generation stage of brand communication. CTA is usually achieved with tactical messaging, through more targeted communication supported by data. 

Richard Nicoll

Chief strategy and capability officer, Liquid Retail


While OOH advertising can be great at generating massive brand awareness, it can also move consumers towards a purchase, if not close the sale.

In today’s saturated digital world, where consumers are served with ads left, right and centre, large-scale OOH such as the mega billboards on Sheikh Zayed Road can indeed be a powerful tool to stand out and demand audiences’ attention to your brand. It gets you seen.

But to ignore the potential of OOH media to activate an action or even inspire purchase consideration is perhaps missing an opportunity in our ever more ‘always on’ shopping world.

Ross Molloy

Senior director, PHD UAE


The short answer is it can do both. Defining “better” really depends on the context of the campaign, its core message and the audience it is trying to influence. By way of an example, if a streaming brand wants to reach a mass audience to promote a new show, I’d argue a premium outdoor site with standout creative can help drive both objectives. While this desired impact is not applicable to all categories and calls to action, the evolving digitisation of OOH into exciting areas like 3D and programmatic will expand its capabilities to interplay with other channels to deliver more supplementary objectives across the funnel.