skip to main content

Is there value in digital Out-of-Home advertising for student marketeers?

Student marketing strategy is a combination of thinking, planning and reacting. So, as school leavers begin to take their first steps onto university soil for Open Days, we question how digital Out-of-Home advertising (DOOH) will impact their choices while they consider higher education pathways. Where can universities draw inspiration from to make their next digital move? Penna’s Education Client Manager, Lucy Harmsworth, interviews Charles Jepson, Commercial Director at AI and advertising provider, Flow City, to find out.

How can student marketers tap into digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising?

Student marketers have no doubt heard of digital Out-of-Home advertising (DOOH) – defined as any form of advertising to customers outside of their home.

The Penna Education team is always on the lookout for tools that will enable universities to better engage with prospective students. Universities need to build their brands to rise above the saturated education market, and this is exactly what DOOH does, in AI-informed ways.

DOOH enables brands, like your university, to utilise outdoor digital advertising placements to dynamically display ads targeted to individuals based on location, time of day and surrounding events.

*Pictured here: digital Out-of-Home 6 sheet advert on display at St. Albans train station in Hertfordshire for University of Hertfordshire. In collaboration with Flow City, live in November 2021.

At Penna, we run this through our Programmatic trading team. The world of DOOH through programmatic enables us to serve the right ads, to the right people, at the right time. So, we can serve visually appealing and relevant ads to the target audience and increase brand awareness surrounding your institution. DOOH is also a sustainable route to market (more so than print advertising) which will help reduce your carbon footprint! A consideration when appealing to those environmentally conscious students.

One could assume this industry has been hit hard after the pandemic. In fact, it’s making quite the comeback. Lucy Harmsworth, Client Manager at Penna, talks to Commercial Director at AI and Flow City, Charles Jepson.

Lucy Harmsworth: “Charles, why do you see Out-of-Home as a key strand to a university’s student recruitment strategy?”

Charles Jepson: “Many studies have shown that multi-media campaigns have a multiplier effect vs. single media campaigns. And DOOH is highly complementary to mobile/online activity. What is probably less well known is that DOOH can now be planned and bought in a similar fashion to online campaigns - much greater flexibility in terms of geography and real time data triggers.”

LH: “Outdoor Advertising in the past has always been a broadcast format, with the strategy of ‘how can I target as many people as possible at scale’. What would you say have been the biggest changes to Out-of-Home advertising?”

CJ: “The three key aspects are:

  1. Increasing number of digital screens.
  2. Increasing number of new screen networks.
  3. While still in its infancy, the advent of programmatic buying within DOOH.’’

LH: “We often talk about Out-of-Home advertising as a brand building/awareness exercise as part of a wider multi-media strategy. How best can we measure the success of Out-of-Home?”

CJ: “Measurement is a thorny issue, even in the world of digital. So, my recommendation would be to be practical and realistic. While not for everyone, A/B testing is a reasonable way forward and something that works well for DOOH. Run some online/mobile only campaigns in certain areas while using DOOH and see what performs best.”

LH: “Are there any strong creative Out-of-Home campaigns that come to mind to target Students?”

CJ: “Creative for outdoor in any sector should adhere to the same rules - highly visual, as few words as possible and colourful. One last thing, make sure the branding is large enough to see!’’

LH: “And finally, where is Out-of-Home advertising expanding to?”

CJ: “The industry still has a long way to go in terms of technology development to truly deliver a seamless digital service but we are on the right track.

Out-of-Home as a market has been extremely poor at attracting smaller advertisers. It is perceived as being solely for advertisers that have large budgets. DOOH, new trading platforms and the arrival of new screen networks are changing these perceptions.

Targeting potential university students is not easy – student marketeers want to be able to grab their attention on the way to Camden Market on a Saturday, while grabbing a takeaway or on their way to school at a train station at certain times of the day. We can do this with DOOH!”

If you want to explore DOOH options for your student marketing strategy or if you have any questions about building brand awareness then please contact our team direct at

Lucy Harmsworth is Client Manager at Penna Education.