Why do Wild Postings and other visual advertising mediums rely primarily on images to attract their target audience?
Why not use more copy? Or a mix of both copy and images.
According to CapitalOutDoor.com, a company dedicated to measuring outdoor advertising effectiveness, the average person only looks at a billboard for 4 seconds. (Wild Postings sometimes have more time than this, but it’s still a small window.)
And research by 3M, the Post-it Notes company, discovered visuals are processed 600,000 times faster than words.
So it’s no surprise why companies avoid using the copy in their outdoor marketing.
But copy in outdoor advertising isn’t an absolute rule. And like most industries, there are exceptions to every rule.
Do you ever have a song stuck in your head from a radio ad?
Here’s a great example:
Companies often use a catchy jingle and rhyming words like this one to help customers remember their products. And it works.
But this idea can also be effective without the enticing melody.
In Oklahoma, the state’s soccer association wanted more of their residents to take part in soccer, so they used on another foot related interest people have: Bigfoot.
They created a billboard with an image of a soccer field, with a giant microscope looking at both a Bigfoot footprint, a soccer ball and text that read “Find Your Big Foot.”
The outdoor ad campaign raised awareness and laughs over its flight length.
Less is More
Bethesda, a popular game studio making of such classics as Skyrim and Fallout to name a few changed its payment structure for its online MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online Game) Elder Scrolls Online to free to play.
What does this have to do with wild postings and outdoor advertisements?
When marketing this change, Bethesda didn’t go into specifics or talk in length about the game.
Instead, wherever their game was advertised on a wild posting or other outdoor ads, they put a title, image and 3 words of copy. “Free to Play”
This short and sweet phrase captured the essence of the benefit to gamers on the fence about playing the game but also spoke to players who dropped the game in favor of other MMOs that were cheaper or were also free to play.
In other words, if your product and service have a powerful benefit or advantage over your competition and it’s possible to highlight that fact in a few choice words. Do it.
In 2005, Psychologists Paul W. Foos and Paula Goolkasian conducted a study on the difference between the human memory of pictures vs. words.
Not surprisingly, when volunteer participants were asked to perform types of two tasks involving memory with images and word, the results pointed to images as a source of better recall than spoken words.
And when it came to printed words, a recall could be lower than 40%.
Foos and Goolkasian thought that perhaps the participants were processing the printed words too quickly and fail to attract the attention of people as effectively as words or pictures.
So in the final experiment, Foos & Goolkasian “degraded” the word by either adding visual distractors to words like this.
Recall of the printed word increased to almost 50%.
Foos & Goolkasian argue the same mental processes applies to short-term memory for pictures, sounds, and printed words.
It’s all about creating a different way for potential customers to process your copy.
While the words used in your wild posting copy have merit, how the copy is presented can often be even more important on the impact of your ad than the copy itself.
So, Do Wild Postings Need Copy?
The short answer is no.
The results from psychological and marketing research from all over the globe conclude that images and the spoken word are far more useful in advertising than printed copy ever will be.
However, there are examples where the copy has aided or even elevated wild postings and outdoor advertising.
When deciding whether or not to employ copy onto your outdoor campaign, make sure to follow these strategies and tactics and you’ll be head and shoulders over your competition.
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