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Common Outdoor Advertising Terms and Definitions

Key Definitions At a Glance

  • Bulletin - The 14' by 48' foot monsters most people think of when they think of billboards.
  • Digital billboard - Any billboard that can change copy quickly through the use of digital technology. Usually rotation times last about eight seconds and are shared among multiple advertisers to reduce cost.
  • Impressions - The number of times a person is likely to see an advertising display.
  • Billboard Sizes - Because many different agencies refer to billboard sizes by different street names, the most effective and universal way to refer to them is by the number of sheets they contain (e.g. 32 sheet, 48 sheet, etc.). Think of it as the number of sheets of ordinary paper it would take to fill up the space. The more sheets the bigger the advertisement.

Billboard Jargon

In order to be able to soak in some of the information we provide about billboards, it's important to familiarize yourself with the industry terms.

Jargon Sections
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
  • A

  • Allotment
    The number of units necessary for a company to receive their desired number of impressions in a target market.
  • Approach
    The distance from which the sign becomes completely visible to the distance at which it is no longer visible at all.
  • Awareness
    Users ability to remember an Out-Of-Home advertising message. This metric is influenced by the quality of the advertisement and overall customer satisfaction with the brand.

  • B

  • Billboard
    Large Out-of-Home home advertising displays used for reaching viewers at various distances, usually 50 feet or more.
  • Billboard Sizes
    Because many different agencies refer to billboard sizes by different street names, the most effective and universal way to refer to them is by the number of sheets they contain (e.g. 32 sheet, 48 sheet, etc.). Think of it as the number of sheets of ordinary paper it would take to fill up the space. The more sheets the bigger the advertisement.
  • Bleed
    The area of the ad copy which extends beyond the normal surface area of the billboard structure itself. Think of the cows hanging off the sides of the signs in many popular Chick-fil-A advertisements.
  • Bulletin
    Bulletins are what most people think of when they think of an outdoor billboard. They are the 14' x 48' monsters that jump out at you on the side of the freeway. These structures are most often permanent displays but recently digital billboards have become a similar size option with additional perks.
  • Bus shelter
    Bus shelter advertisements are most commonly found on sidewalks at regular stopping points on bus routes and outside Metropolitan areas of commerce. Ideal position for smaller posters.

  • C

  • Campaign
    The length of time for which an outdoor advertising budget is designated.
  • Circulation
    An overall measurement of traffic in a particular market. This number is an estimate of the number of potential viewers for any particular billboard. Because it's only an estimate, it is not the most valid metric for advertisers to use.
  • City Billboards
    Billboards in major city areas with both high population and visitor traffic.
  • Copy area
    The area of an outdoor advertisement that is used for viewing.
  • Coverage
    Also referred to as coverage area, it represents the total number of people they can be reached with the inventory in a given market.
  • Count Station
    A particular area of road with a defined traffic pattern. Count stations provide estimated traffic totals as well as demographic breakdowns of that traffic.
  • Cross-Read
    An OOH advertisement that can be seen from two sides of the same highway.
  • Custom market
    Custom markets generally refer to counties and/or groups of counties where advertisers showcase their OOH delivery platform.

  • D

  • Digital billboard
    Any billboard that can change copy quickly through the use of digital technology. The content itself is static and multiple advertisements rotate within that space. Usually rotation times last about eight seconds and are shared among multiple advertisers to reduce cost.
  • Digital OOH media
    Any out of home advertising display that incorporates digital technology.
  • Distribution
    Distribution involves the placement out of home advertising units throughout a market. Distribution affects the total reach of the campaign, specifically as it rates with the target audience.
  • Dwell Time
    The amount of time a customer is near or in close proximity to an out of home advertisement.
  • Effective Reach
    This metric refers to the number of people exposed to an OOH advertisement three or more times.

  • E

  • Embellishment
    Special-effects created on a particular outdoor advertisement. Embellishments can include, but are not limited to, letters, mechanical devices, and other figures attached to the structure of an out of home unit.
  • Exposure
    Exposure refers to an actual eye contact with an advertising unit and its message. Exposure ratings are calculated based on the number of passersby who are likely to notice the advertisement.
  • Extension
    Also referred to as bleed, the area of the advertisement that falls outside the surface area of the bulletin or poster itself.

  • F

  • Face
    the surface area of a bulletin or poster where the advertisement is placed. There can be multiple faces for any given structure.
  • Facing
    This refers to the primary direction and out of home unit is facing. As an example, Westward facing displays will be viewed by vehicles traveling east.
  • Finishing
    This may be more appropriately referred to as trimming. It is the process of hemming the edge of a display in order to hang welding pockets or other tools from the structure.
  • Flighting
    The duration of an OOH campaign. For example if a campaign runs for three months from January to March, that period of time represents the flighting time.
  • Freeway Billboards
    Billboards placed directly adjacent to any major highway or interstate.
  • Frequency
    The typical number of times an outdoor advertising message is noticed. This metric is usually reported based on a four week measurement period, but that length of time can be adjusted.

  • I

  • Impressions
    The number of times a person is likely to see an advertising display.

  • J
  • Junior Posters
    A standardized poster format, typically measuring 6' x 12'; formally known as an 8 Sheet. Perfect for bus shelters.

  • L
  • Line of sight
    Refers to the ability to see more than one advertising unit at the same time.
  • Location list
    All locations of advertising displays will be included in the list provided by the billboard owner.

  • M

  • Market
    Geographically defined areas based on median income, population size, ethnicity, and other demographic metrics.
  • Market Ride
    Market rides take place when the physical inspection of an outdoor advertising unit is required. These rides can take place either before or after a billboard has been purchased.
  • Message Duration
    Usually used for digital billboards, duration refers to how long an individual message will be displayed. Messages are typically displayed in 8-second blocks within a 64-second group.
  • Mobile billboard
    A truck, bus, taxi, or any other moving vehicle that has been equipped with an advertisement. These advertisements can be panel units or wraps and are usually used to target dense populations within a key demographic.

  • O

  • Off-premise sign
    And OOH display that advertises services or products that are not available at the location of the advertisement itself. Most outdoor advertising displays fall into the category of off-premise signs.
  • On-premise sign
    The signs are used typically by proprietors directly adjacent to their place of business. They advertise Products and services that can be consumed at the property where the sign is located.
  • Out-of-Home media (OOH)
    A blanket category that encapsulates all forms of outdoor advertising intended to reach viewers outside the home.

  • P

  • Percent composition
    The number of people within a given population that represent the target group an advertiser is trying to reach.
  • Poster
    Originally referred to as a 30 sheet, standard posters are typically 12'3" by 24'6". Poster sizes can vary within a target market. Fantastic for trucks and city advertisements.
  • Posting date
    This date marked the true beginning of your advertising campaign this will be the first day that your advertisement will be displayed to the public.
  • Posting instructions
    The instructions provided to an outdoor advertising agency detailing how and where an advertisement is to be displayed.
  • Printed OOH media
    Refers to any static advertisement traditionally printed copy. Printed media is the counterpart to digital media.
  • Proof of Performance (POP)
    A detailed report provided by the advertising company that shows all contracted services have been performed.

  • R

  • Reach
    The approximate number of people expected to view an outdoor advertisement one or more times during an out of home campaign.

  • S

  • Snipe
    Snipe is an adhesive strip that can be used to cover any part of the display on an outdoor advertising unit. Think of this as white-out for billboards.
  • Spectacular
    Spectaculars refer to the largest outdoor advertising displays available to advertisers. They are usually larger than the standard bulletin size of 14' x 48' and are placed in prime locations within a target market.
  • Squares
    Any billboard with equal height and width.
  • Street furniture
    These structures provide both public utility benefits and unique advertising opportunities. Advertisements on street furniture are typically at eye level and appear in and around areas of extremely high foot traffic. This can include bus shelters, shopping malls, newsstands, and in-store signage.
  • Substrate
    substrate refers to the type of material used for an advertising display. Various substrates include Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polyvinyl Chloride, and several others.

  • T

  • Target audience
    A viewership today an advertiser is attempting to reach with their message. The viewership can be broken up into several key demographics including age, median income, race, and even gender.
  • Traffic count
    The number of vehicles and/or pedestrians that passed by a particular point. Traffic count is often used to calculate circulation.
  • Transit
    Outdoor advertising displays secured in common areas of transit terminals or public transportation vehicles. This includes buses, airports, trains and taxi tops.
  • Trim size
    This is the final size of the OOH advertisement once it has been fully prepared and rendered for the campaign.
  • Tri-vision
    Any outdoor advertising unit that has three distinct sides for advertising display.

  • W

  • Wallscapes
    Murals and posters that can fill part or all of a building wall.