Research Outline

Brand Awareness: Radio versus OOH


To understand the impact of radio, out-of home (OOH) advertising (specifically, billboards), and print advertising in driving awareness for mass-focused brands to support advertising decision-making.

Early Findings

Traditional Advertising

  • This study, by the American Marketing Association, demonstrates that traditional advertising (television, radio, out-of-home, and print) is more effective than social media in generating brand awareness, consideration, and equity.


  • According to leading market research firm, Nielsen, radio advertising reaches 92% of adult audiences weekly, with adults over 18 spending just under 12 hours weekly listening to radio.
  • In a 2017 Nielsen survey across 38 podcast clips and 18 brand advertisements, 69% of respondents said podcast advertising increased their awareness of a new product or service, while 62% correctly identified a brand that was advertised during the podcast.
  • In a March 2020 Nielsen survey of 1,000 adults 18+, 28% of respondents claimed they are spending more time listening to radio.
  • A Nielsen survey also found that a radio ad can boost awareness of a TV ad when used in an integrated campaign, with 35% of respondents who heard the radio ad citing higher awareness of a TV ad, than those who only saw the TV ad.
  • A 2019 Nielsen Audio report concluded that, because radio reaches consumers throughout the day and on-the-go, when they are closer to the point-of-purchase, it is an effective means of amplifying the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

Billboard Advertising

  • According to a 2017 Nielsen survey, billboard drives more online activity per dollar spent compared to radio and print. Following exposure to a billboard (OOH) ad, 46% of those who saw the ad visited a search engine, and 40% visited a Facebook page.
  • According to Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), outdoor digital billboard spending has grown 35% from 2010 to 2018 and will overtake traditional outdoor advertising spend by 2020.
  • The PWC survey showed that outdoor ads were the only traditional media category to grow in 2018, with the increase to $33.5 billion, driven by 16% growth in digital out of home advertising (DOOH).
  • Growth in DOOH is traced to a shift in overall digital advertising. A number of large firms, including Netflix, are moving toward this variation on out-of-home advertising.
  • While this research was undertaken by an industry group, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, it provides some visibility into returns for out of home advertising. This research found that every dollar spent in OOH yielded $5.97 in ROI.
  • Online grocer, Fresh Direct, leveraged out of home billboard advertising in New York City to drive website traffic. This campaign drove 41,000 website conversions.

Traditional Media Spending Trends

Summary of Early Research Relevant To The Goals

  • We leveraged as many primary, objective sources as possible to determine the effectiveness of radio advertising versus billboard advertising (and where possible, print advertising). We found that primary sources (market research industry and consultancy surveys and studies based on consumer input, advertiser input, scanner and panel data, industry expertise), provided the most informative, while still objective, source of information. We did provide information from one potentially biased source, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, given the value of their 'ROI versus dollar spent' finding.
  • We also found that of the three traditional sources of media, out-of-home is growing, due to the influence of digital spending. Radio still appears to offer some potential, given its reach and potential to drive awareness (specifically with respect to new products and more so for podcast advertising than traditional radio advertising),
  • If we make an assumption that the shift of advertising spend toward digital and away from traditional reflects brand results (which would likely include, amongst other variables, brand awareness, engagement, and conversion to purchase), print advertising appears to be the least appealing to advertisers, with both newspaper spend and magazine spend declining most from 2000-2020. Several sources indicate out-of-home spend is growing, due to the rise of DOOH.
  • We found a number of case studies highlighting out of home advertising campaigns as well.
  • Our recommended next steps are below.