The evolution of OOH


Out-of-home advertising — posters, billboards, branded hoardings — is one of the oldest forms of advertising. Public wall graffiti has been found in the ruins of Pompeii promoting political candidates; ancient Egyptians used papyrus for mass sales messages. As far back as we can trace civilisations, we’ve found evidence of ways that commercial messages got communicated to masses.

While OOH advertising is traditional, it’s also evolved. From making images come alive through digital billboards to taking the consumer journey offline to online through QR codes and tracking, it’s a dynamic and integral part of any current marketing strategy. Its longevity speaks to its resilience in mirroring our own societal developments, and it’s wildly adaptable, even in an increasingly digital world.

The pandemic momentarily dimmed the lights on OOH advertising, but the world bounced back. The format has reached pre-pandemic levels across the US, and is now setting new benchmarks in innovation and audience engagement.

At a time where ad agencies are pushing creativity further than ever, OOH campaigns are being approached in new lights.

Makeup and beauty brand Maybelline, for example, utilised public transport to advertise their new mascara. Their mascara-wearing tube and bus ads caused a frenzy online and effectively reshaped perceptions of what OOH could achieve.

However, whilst this viral campaign took a new spin on the format, the whole thing was in fact a hoax - with CGI having created these fake OOH scenes to simply create an online buzz. An interesting take, but safe to say it definitely worked - we’re sure the team leading on this got a big bonus!

Image Source: Maybelline TikTok


The hoopla raises some questions around where OOH is headed. The Maybelline campaign toed the line between innovation and public deception. It was powerful but also strangely unsettling. Is this a case of advertising taking another step towards becoming more intrusive? One thing is for sure, with the use of augmented reality – the lines are definitely being blurred between the OOH, social media advertising and Guerrilla marketing.

Digital Out Of Home, or DOOH, has been a massive catalyst in the format’s revival, and is projected to grow exponentially in 2024. From 3D projections that pop out of billboards to interactive experiences that engage directly with audiences, DOOH is again blurring the lines between digital and physical advertising spaces. From the real to the imagined. From 2D to 3D. DOOH has redefined what is possible in the realm of public advertising.

During the pandemic, 3D iterations of this advertising genre really started to make their mark. The most striking of which was the giant wave developed by d’strict, which could be seen at K-Pop Square, in the heart of Seoul’s Gangnam District. More recently, Meta Reality Lab promoted their Meta Quest 2 virtual reality (VR) headset in the same fashion in Piccadilly Square, London. This is becoming a more frequented OOH format, often making up a small yet impactful part of wider campaigns.

What’s more, the accessibility of DOOH is widening, with advertisers and content creators now able to sync their ads from social media to digital billboards all through mobile.

TikTok's new 'out of phone' advertising solution allows for exactly that. Taking campaigns from the small screens of mobile devices and amplifying them onto billboards, cinema screens, and other public displays - it's a bold move that marries the virility of social media with the visibility of OOH, offering brands a new way to reach audiences.


Looking ahead, the fusion of AR and VR technologies with traditional advertising mediums hints at a future where immersive experiences become the norm. The possibilities are endless, from interactive AR installations that educate and entertain to VR experiences that transport audiences to different worlds.