Skip to main content
Market Voice 28 Sep 2021 - 5 min read

How to build your brand in two seconds: At-a-glance advertising the world’s biggest tech companies use to drive growth, shift product

By John Harris - Sales Director, JCDecaux | Partner Content

Out-of-home is a one-to-many channel. It provides brands and advertisers the scale, impact and immediacy to reach audiences at large.

In out-of-home advertising, you have as little as two seconds to land your message. The world’s biggest tech companies understand that universal truth. Which is why they invest a little more creative intelligence upfront to drive huge returns. Even tech start-ups are jumping on board. Here’s how marketers and their agencies can make every second count.

If you’ve only got a couple of seconds, here’s all you need to know: Think about the ‘where’ when creating out-of-home ads as much as the ‘what, why and when’ – and you’ll both build brand and drive sales.

You only have 1-3 seconds to land your message to people driving by an ad, so make it brilliant. Creativity from idea to execution to placement is the difference between success and failure.

If you’ve got 15-20 seconds, about the time it takes to walk by an ad, consider this:

Out-of-home is a one-to-many channel. It provides brands and advertisers the scale, impact and immediacy to reach audiences at large, and more than any other channel. But each campaign is only as successful as the simplicity of its message. The trick to delivering more effective out-of-home creative is to think about:


  • Duration – how long does your audience have available to engage with your ad?
  • Visual processing – how are their eyes scanning the artwork? Is it landscape or portrait in orientation? Is the copy legible?
  • Visibility – what is the size and viewing distance of the ad?


Pretty simple – because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make better ads that build brands and drive lower funnel conversion. Which is why Apple, the world’s largest tech company, uses high impact out-of-home to such great effect. Its ‘Shot on an iPhone’ campaign heroes the product – and the creativity of its customers. Great product, user experience and brilliantly simple creative marketing is the reason Apple is worth almost $2.5 trillion.


The four pillars of better out-of-home

We know attention spans are short – because capturing attention is our business. But if you have a few minutes, the kind of time people might spend standing by ads in airports or retail environments, or waiting for a bus or a train, here are the four things you need to know to supercharge the most effective creative in out-of-home advertising.


1. Put everything into context

Contextual messaging is proven to be more effective at driving recall, relevance and brand favourability than standard messaging.

Think: Make your brand relevant to the time, location, cultural moment or audience mindset and needs.

Design: Consider the position of the site in order to create interaction – right creative, right location.

Tip: Understanding location is key to making mass reaching messages feel personal.


2. Tell better stories

Storytelling remains at the heart of good communication.

Think: Repetitive viewing of brands and messages enforces familiarity with an audience.

Design: Different versions of an ad for the same brand makes the campaign more interesting. Consider the power of video in places like train stations, to amplify and tell your story to people who have the down time to engage.

Tip: High dwell time is a key focus for longer copy and storytelling.


3. Think bigger

High scale, high impact formats create a sense of your brand being everywhere.

Think: In binary pairs. When it comes to out-of-home, audiences see things as impactful or non-impactful.

Design: Consider viewing distance – will it be viewed from afar, or will the audience be up close with a format?

Tip: Scale isn’t just about the size of the format but the footprint of the network.


4. Convey key message smartly, sharply

Leverage data for clever messaging to engage with audiences.

Think: People are more likely to recall unique or unusual information. In fact our research suggests dynamic messaging (changing artwork on digital formats) makes people pay more attention (54 per cent), makes brands seem more relevant (41 per cent) and 1 in 3 people say it makes advertising more preferable to them.

Design: Simplicity is key.

Tip: Be funny or entertain your audience to capture their attention.


Optimise creativity to win

If you’re pressed for time, that’s it: Investing in better creative strategy delivers much, much higher returns than the ads that are repurposed at the end of the plan.

In an increasingly competitive attention economy, it has never been more important to optimise creativity to prime audiences to inspire and drive action.

Data sophistication, bravery to trial new thinking, and getting the basics right from start to finish delivers a roadmap both for creative freedom – and sharper results – in a place we all can’t wait to spend more time in.

If you have more than a few seconds, and want to better understand how to drive growth, we can give you the full picture.

Push new boundaries and change the conversation at

Share your reaction (and see how others voted)

Leave a comment (you must be logged in)

Be the first to comment

Search Mi3 Articles

Make it personal

Join Mi3 to receive our weekly edition and personalise your experience