Supplementing account-based marketing tactics with out-of-home advertising can help B2B brands fill the top of their sales funnel effectively

When you think about out-of-home advertising, your mind probably wanders to the likes of splashy billboards in Times Square or other visually pleasing brand-oriented content plastered on walls, busses, pizza boxes, and pretty much any other physical surface imaginable. But what many brands seem to forget is that out-of-home advertising has been used for highly targeted B2B marketing for years—typically, to amplify account-based marketing (ABM) tactics as a means of driving more top-of-the-funnel awareness. So today, we thought we’d provide a quick refresher on how B2B brands can use out-of-home advertising, as part of their marketing mix, to drive leads and become top-of-mind among highly targeted audiences.

The intersection of OOH advertising and account-based marketing

Account-based marketing is an often-used bottom-of-the-funnel B2B marketing strategy. In the out-of-home advertising space, this can take on the following forms:

  • Billboard ads near the offices or headquarters of potential (and ideal) new customers.
  • Billboard ads dotting major highways or thoroughfares to capture commuter attention.
  • “Surround sound” advertising at conferences, tradeshows, and major industry events.

While these work great as high-performing bottom-of-the-funnel tactics that can help reinforce broader ABM strategies, B2B marketers nonetheless can’t forget about filling the top of their sales funnel, too. This is a space where out-of-home advertising can be especially powerful, helping B2B brands become top-of-mind with their target audiences. And while OOH ads may not be as personalized or “one-to-one” as other ABM tactics, they certainly can play a major role in driving top-of-mind awareness to make ABM strategies that much more effective.

The challenges of top-of-funnel B2B marketing in an (almost) post-COVID world

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a B2B marketer’s job a lot more difficult, especially when it comes to filling the top of their sales funnel. Here are just a few reasons why:

Challenge 1: People aren’t yet returning to work in droves

Generally speaking, for B2B marketing to be successful—and worth the investment—it requires being able to get highly specialized or relevant messaging in front of precisely targeted audiences. As mentioned above, a great way of doing this is by placing ads near the places where these target audiences commute or work. However, as we’ve seen over the last 18+ months, people haven’t returned to the office in full force. In fact, the more likely reality is that permanent remote work or some sort of hybrid work model will continue to prevail, well after pandemic jitters have died down. This, therefore, means that B2B marketers will have to get a lot more creative around where they place ads in order to reach these once daily commuting audiences.

Challenge 2: In-person events and conferences haven’t fully rebounded yet

While there are glimmers of hope that events and conferences will pick up steam in the coming months, there have still been a number of starts and stops (meaning, events are still being canceled) during various COVID-related woes. The problem here is simple: In the absence of key industry events, B2B marketers have fewer opportunities to capture the attention of highly engaged and deeply relevant audiences with impactful creative and messaging. These events are typically a shoo-in for B2B marketers because they corral the right type of customers in a single space for a condensed (read: intense) period of time. You might as well consider this a marketing playground of sorts. And as much as we all love the ongoing cascade of virtual events, they just don’t create the same kind of immersive opportunities available at live, in-person functions.

What about swag? Throwing salt on the wound, the lack of in-person events has made it a lot harder for B2B brands to capture a potential customer’s information—including their home or office mailing address—for sending relevant content and, of course, swag to keep the relationship going once an event has wrapped up. Typically, a tactic used liberally by many sales teams, this has become virtually obsolete during the pandemic.

Challenge 3: Hard to break through all of the digital noise

Throughout the pandemic people around the world have come to rely on digital a lot more than they ever thought they would—at least, at this point in time. Not only did events go virtual but at the onset of the pandemic, when many people were shut in at home, the only realistic way any brand could reach their customers effectively was via digital means. However, as marketers quickly shifted their marketing budgets to digital, people were suddenly inundated with a lot of marketing noise—well to the point of oversaturation. This made it even harder for any marketer, much less B2B marketers, to break through the noise and actually capture a target customer’s attention.  

What does top-of-the-funnel OOH advertising look like?

For all of you who live in or around Los Angeles or New York, this first example is for you. Think about the Emmy, Golden Globes, and Academy Awards season. You’ve probably seen billboards shining a spotlight on the awards finalists—especially for awards categories like “film of the year”—pop up around town with the famous words “For Your Consideration” written on them.

While these billboards may have a consumer-ish aspect to them because, after all, they are promoting films and series that have graced our screens over the course of the year, the true intended audience of this creative is the actual people, whether judges or the broader SAG community, who will ultimately choose the final award winners.

This is a perfect B2B use case for top-of-the-funnel out-of-home advertising: The creative is pretty much relevant to everyone while the key message is highly targeted to a select few.

Let’s take a look at another example that sits much more squarely in the B2B space. A relative and highly successful newcomer to the fintech industry, Brex launched its brand with a six-figure OOH media buy in San Francisco in 2018 – and they doubled down on OOH during the pandemic, blanketing Washington DC, Miami, and Houston with their bold, eye-catching creative and oftentimes tongue-in-cheek messaging.

Faced with the reality that people weren’t going into the office as much, Brex’s marketing team decided to take a full-throttle “canvassing” approach to their out-of-home advertising campaign, around the time that the strictest shelter-in-place measures were being lifted – to ensure that virtually no one could walk around these key markets without seeing a Brex message in some way, shape, or form. This was a perfect way to reach once-commuting target audiences in all of the places those employees live or spend their money. It proved to be a massive success.

Brex billboard ad in San Francisco, CA (2020)

Plus, it further reinforces what we, at AdQuick, have always known to be true: that out-of-home advertising is not only one of the most cost-effective mediums available to marketers today but also one of the highest performing (even in terms of offline-to-online attribution).

3 tips for building B2B brand awareness with OOH advertising

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to optimize your out-of-home advertising buys to drive more top-of-the-funnel awareness and more value out of your B2B marketing strategies. Here are three tips to get you moving in the right direction during these post-pandemic times:

1) Focus on reach.

The rules of engagement of the past, at least for B2B marketing, are a little different now that COVID has shaken everything up. So instead of focusing your attention on placing ads near where your target potential customers work, you need to get more creative and find them where they spend the rest of their non-working lives.

The good news for you is that AdQuick gives you unprecedented access to 98% of all available OOH inventory in the U.S. across every ad format or media type imaginable—from static or digital billboard to bus wraps to hand-painted murals. And our industry-leading performance measurement and analytics tools provide accurate reach and frequency data, including GRPs and TRPs, for every campaign you run.

2) Leverage retargeting.

Even more, Ad Quick can increase and extend the impact of your out-of-home advertising campaigns by helping you retarget people who have been exposed to your OOH ads, giving you a new opportunity to reach them with more specific or personalized bottom-of-the-funnel messages across other media channels.

3) Measure your results.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for measuring B2B OOH ad campaign performance and effectiveness, keeping close tabs on things like brand lift, causal impact, or the “halo effect” (i.e. offline-to-offline attribution, including LinkedIn performance) driven by your out-of-home campaigns is a good place to start.


If you’re ready to run a high-impact B2B out-of-home advertising campaign but still don’t know how to get started, our team can help. Go ahead and schedule a free strategy consultation today.