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How Rural OOH Works and Who Can Benefit

May 26, 2023

When many people think of Out-of-Home advertising (OOH), they tend to think of Billboards on highways outside major cities or places like Times Square. But, inventory in more remote markets definitely exists and can have some significant benefits depending upon the brand.

In this article, you’ll learn about rural outdoor advertising, how it works, and how brands can benefit from going off the beaten path.

How to Plan for a Rural Market

Planning and buying OOH in smaller, rural markets can look much different than in the big cities. These areas have less dense populations and often less inventory available. But there is often OOH advertising in the form of Billboards, Transit Shelters, small sports arenas, retailers, and more. Rural advertising is a great way to get messages into smaller communities. It works exceptionally well for businesses that want to engage more personally with their audience or target hyper-locally. 

What Kinds of Brands Should Explore Smaller Markets?

Brands that benefit most from rural advertising want to reach a specific, hyperlocal audience.

Many brands want to be recognizable and a part of their communities. For example, some nationwide insurance companies have individual representatives serving small areas. Some of these companies allot ad dollars towards local, community advertising to support their agents. This helps agents get their name and contact information into their community. It shows their “boots-on-the-ground” presence.

National brands with local reps, real estate agents, and local small businesses, such as auto dealerships, can also benefit from building camaraderie within small communities. Ads that include an individual's face can make them instantly recognizable to their audience. Imagine the effect of seeing someone’s face on a Billboard and seeing that person at your local coffee shop. It humanizes a brand.


Often, these kinds of advertisers will have just one placement. They aim to make one big splash instead of splitting it up with multiple formats. Many advertisers tend to put all their resources in the spot they’ve invested in. Additionally, because many placements are “perms” or long-term placements, some advertisers can become emotionally attached to their “local landmark.” Though this likely wouldn’t be a great strategy for a larger market or budget, it can be pretty effective at getting a business or individual’s name out to the community.

Brands aren’t limited to those listed above. Several other businesses can benefit from exploring small hyperlocal markets in less densely populated areas. Anyone who wants to advertise to people who live and operate in a small community can benefit.

What are the Benefits of Rural OOH?

Advertising to non-primary markets comes with many benefits to those who choose it. It is cost-effective, engages the community, and placements are often long-term.

  • Community Engagement: Brands speak directly to a hyperlocal audience and often have a more personal relationship with their prospects. Ads often run for more extended periods than standard US 4-week campaigns. This can make the Billboard a valuable part of a community’s landscape.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Prices in these markets tend to be much lower than in primary markets. This is because the audience is smaller, and there is less competition for ad space. The best pricing tends to be based on longer-term buys.
  • Long-term Placements: “Perm” placements or long-term placements are common. Media Owners want their Billboards to have advertising on them. Advertisers can often negotiate for great long-term rates. This keeps their ads running far beyond the standard US 4-week campaign for up to years at a time.
  • Options for Place-Based: Place-based advertising can be an excellent option for customized campaigns. Branded sanitation stations cropped up in local stores during the pandemic. Brands and organizations with government money had specific dollars to use toward a more rural audience. 

What Should I Consider Before OOH Advertising in Rural Areas?

Though Rural OOH comes with many benefits for those who use it, there are also a few considerations that need to be made when planning a campaign:

  • Smaller Media Owners: Inventory is often locally owned. There are a number of small independent shops or local landowners who own just one Billboard. Finding independent media owners can be a challenge. This is one reason it is often easier to work with an OOH specialist familiar with the media owners, market, and process. 
  • Less Traffic: These areas are less densely populated. Advertisers may not see the same amount of impressions as they may see in a larger market.
  • Less Inventory: Though a fair amount of inventory is available, there are fewer units. Odd-sized units are more common. Because there are many long-term leases on units, options can be limited. Transit is often more limited in rural areas, with fewer format options.
  • Installation Timing: Installation costs should be considered. Often installers in these markets are independent. They need longer lead times to account for travel to/from the market. There could also be longer times for the installation itself. 
  • Longer Repair Times for Damage:  Some areas are prone to weather damage from tornados and hurricanes. “Acts of God” can cause materials to fall off of a board or destruction of a Billboard. Smaller markets often have slower response times. Collecting the resources, trucks, and teams to fix the board can take a while. 
  • Less Payment Flexibility: Smaller Media Owners often have quicker turnaround times for payment than larger ones. While larger Media Owners often have flexible 60 or 90-day payment terms, smaller ones often request that their invoices be paid in advance or within 30 days.
Despite these considerations, many brands value engaging with a hyperlocal audience. Working with an OOH Specialist can help you navigate working with Media Owners, find the most effective inventory, and ensure a successful campaign.

Work with an OOH Specialist to Build Your Small Market Strategy

At Billups, we have 20 years of experience working with brands of all sizes to help them find the most effective placements. We have access to all inventory in the US. We can help you plan a successful campaign that gets your message deep into local communities and builds camaraderie with your neighborhood. Reach out today to learn more. 

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