OOH Glossary

Out of Home (OOH) and Billboard Terminology

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising, including billboards, is a powerful way to reach consumers daily. From bustling city centers to rural highways, OOH advertising captures attention and creates lasting impressions. Whether you are a marketing professional, advertiser, or simply curious about the terminology used in this industry, our comprehensive A-Z glossary will help you navigate the world of OOH advertising. This glossary includes essential terms like "Vinyl," "DEC (Daily Effective Circulation)," and "GRP (Gross Rating Points)," ensuring you know how to understand and utilize OOH advertising effectively.


  • A-Board: A two-sided sign shaped like the letter "A," often used on sidewalks for advertising.
  • Ad Copy: The text or message on a billboard or OOH advertisement.
  • Advertising Panel: The section of a billboard or other OOH structure where the ad is displayed.
  • Allotment: The number of units required to achieve a desired GRP level in a market.
  • Approach: The distance measured along the line of travel from the point where an advertising unit first becomes fully visible to the point where the copy is no longer readable.
  • Arbitron: A company that provides audience measurement data for radio and OOH advertising.
  • Awareness: The recalled recognition of an OOH advertising message by an individual or audience. Ad awareness is influenced by creative copy and the consumer’s relationship with the product or category.


  • Backlit: An advertising display illuminated from behind, making the ad visible at night.
  • Billboard: Large format advertising displays intended for viewing from extended distances, generally more than 50 feet. Billboard displays include, but are not limited to: bulletins, junior posters, posters, and spectaculars.
  • Bleed: The display area extends beyond the live copy area, often to the edge of the finished size.
  • Bulletin: The most oversized standardized OOH format, typically measuring 14’ x 48’ overall size. Sold either as permanent displays or in rotary packages.
  • Bus Shelter: A curbside structure at regular stopping points along urban bus routes.


  • Campaign: The interval of time when an OOH advertising campaign is run.
  • Cancellation Period: A specified period when a contract can be terminated.
  • CBSA (Core Based Statistical Area): Defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget, a metropolitan area within a larger market (e.g. DMA) containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core. CBSAs are a standard geography for buying and selling media.
  • Charting: Selecting and scheduling individual unit locations to maximize OOH advertising objectives.
  • Circulation: A measurement of traffic volume in a market. Circulation only estimates the number of people with an opportunity to see an out-of-home display and, therefore, is no longer a credible measure of an OOH audience and is out of step with other media metrics.
  • Commercial Audience: Audience estimates of people exposed to actual advertising. TAB OOH Ratings are the first media measurement system providing true commercial audiences of OOH advertising rather than audiences that are merely exposed to editorial content (e.g., reading a magazine, reading a newspaper, or tuning to a TV program).
  • Continuity: The elimination of gaps in a media schedule by maximizing the duration of a campaign, ideally 52 weeks.
  • Co-op: The sharing of advertising costs between a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer.
  • Copy Area: The viewing area on an OOH unit.
  • Coverage: 1. Based on the defined geographic parameters of a market, expressed as DMAs, CBSAs, groups of counties, or individual counties, also known as the coverage area. 2. Coverage can also be the percentage of the population within any of these geographic areas that can be reached by the total inventory of a media operator.
  • CPM – Cost Per Thousand: The cost of delivering 1,000 impressions from individuals who notice the advertising on displays in a market.
  • CPP – Cost per Rating Point: The cost of advertising exposure opportunities that equals one rating point in any geographically defined market.
  • Count Station: A section of road with a specific traffic pattern. Count stations contain traffic estimates and the demographic composition of that traffic.
  • Cross-Read: An advertising display visible across traffic lanes on the opposite side of the roadway.
  • Custom Market: Any market used by a plant or advertiser other than a DMA or CBSA. Custom markets are used by plants or advertisers to highlight OOH delivery within relevant geographic areas. Custom markets are generally counties or groups of counties.


  • Daily Effective Circulation (DECs): The historical OOH audience measurement system. DECs are the average number of persons in cars or other vehicles passing and potentially exposed to an advertising display.
  • Digital Billboard: Billboards that can change advertising content using digital technology. Content is static, with multiple advertising messages in rotation every few seconds.
  • Digital OOH Media: Any OOH display that can change its advertising content using addressable screen technology.
  • Digital Place-Based Media: Addressable OOH screens that change advertising content remotely, excluding roadside digital OOH media such as billboards and bus shelters. Digital place-based media includes a broad range of content, including static messages and full-motion video with an audio track.
  • Display Period: The length of time an OOH ad is displayed.
  • Distribution: The strategic placement of OOH units across a market. The distribution of units will impact the campaign's reach and the delivered audience's demographic profile.
  • DMA – Designated Market Area: A television market area defined by Nielsen Media Research that is also used by advertisers for multi-media planning. DMAs are non-overlapping and cover the entire United States.
  • Dwell Time: The interval of time when a consumer is near an OOH ad.


  • Easel: A stand to display a poster or board, often for temporary or promotional advertising.
  • Effective Reach: The number of persons within the target audience exposed to the advertising schedule an average of three or more times.
  • Embellishment: Letters, figures, mechanical devices, or lighting that are attached to the face of an OOH unit to create a unique effect.
  • Exposure: As derived from TAB’s visibility research, a physiological or behavioral measure of actual eye contact with an OOH media unit and its advertising. TAB OOH Ratings are derived from adjusting circulation or passing to those who notice the advertising.
  • Extension: An area of copy made as a cut-out that falls outside the primary restraints of a bulletin or poster.


  • Face: The surface area on an OOH unit where advertising copy is displayed. A structure may have more than one face.
  • Facing: The cardinal direction that an OOH unit faces. For example, a north-facing bulletin is viewed by vehicles traveling south.
  • Finishing: The method used to hem the edges of posters and bulletins. Finishing can include welded pockets or other operational techniques for hanging substrates onto billboard units.
  • Flighting: The length of an advertising campaign, sometimes divided into distinct segments over weeks.
  • Frequency: The average number of times an individual notices an OOH advertising message during a defined period. Frequency in OOH advertising is typically measured over four weeks but can be reported for any campaign length.


  • Geopath OOH Ratings: The Geopath rating system was designed to provide OOH advertising with credible metrics comparable to other measured media. This is achieved with a sophisticated research program designed to measure audiences who see advertising on OOH ads throughout the country. The integrated research method incorporates research and expertise in circulation, visibility, and eye tracking research, demography and trip modeling, and the building of powerful reach and frequency models.
  • GRP (Gross Rating Points): The total number of in-market impressions delivered by an OOH schedule expressed as a percentage of a market population. One rating point represents impressions equal to 1 percent of the market population.


  • Halo Effect: The glow around illuminated signs increases visibility.
  • High Impact: Highly visible and memorable OOH advertising placements.


  • Illuminated Billboard: A billboard with lighting to make the advertisement visible at night.
  • Impressions: The number of times people will likely notice an ad on an OOH display. Gross impressions are those delivered against a demographic audience for an advertising schedule. In-market impressions are the average number of times people who live in a defined market (e.g., a DMA or CBSA) are likely to notice an ad on an OOH display. In-market impressions exclude impressions derived from people who travel into or through the market but live outside of it. In-market impressions are the audience from which GRPs are calculated.


  • Junior Poster: A standardized poster format, typically measuring 6’ x 12’; formally known as an 8 Sheet.


  • Kiosk: A small stand-alone structure displaying advertisements, often found in malls and transit areas.


  • Lamination: A protective covering on a billboard to protect it from the elements.
  • Landmark Billboard: A high-profile billboard often associated with a specific location.
  • Lifestyle/Retail: Out-of-home media are used to create customized advertising programs that target specific consumer audiences. Lifestyle/Retail includes but is not limited to arena and stadiums, placed-based, digital networks, health clubs/restaurants/bars, and exterior placed-based (i.e., airborne, marine, resorts, and leisure).
  • Likelihood to See (LTS): The portion of the OTS (Opportunity to See) audience likely to see an ad. OOH is the first medium in the US to move from reporting OTS audiences (DECs) to LTS (Likely to See) audiences, which can also be referred to as commercial audiences.
  • Line of Sight: The simultaneous viewing of more than one OOH unit.
  • Location List: All locations and displays included in a specific OOH program.


  • Market: Geographically defined areas used to buy and sell media. Standard market definitions are DMAs and CBSAs.
  • Market Ride: The physical inspection of the units comprising an out-of-home market program – either pre-buy or post-buy.
  • Message Duration: The interval of time when a digital OOH advertising message is viewed.
  • Mobile Billboard: A truck equipped with one or more poster panel units. The car can be parked at specified venues or driven around designated localities.



  • Off-Premise Sign: A sign that advertises products or services that are not sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished on the property where the sign is located. An OOH display is an off-premise sign.
  • On-Premise Sign: A sign that advertises products or services sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished on the property where the sign is located.
  • OOHtech: Out-of-home technology refers to the application of innovative techniques, methods, and processes used to develop and advance the product offerings of the out-of-home advertising industry.
  • Opportunity to See (OTS): A primary measure of media exposure. OTS estimates are measures of media exposure (e.g., magazine readership or TV program exposure) and not advertising. Today’s standard for reporting ratings for all media types except OOH is OTS.
  • Out-of-Home Media (OOH): All media formats specifically intended to reach consumers outside the home.


  • Percent Composition: The percent of the total audience for a display or schedule that a brand target demographic group comprises.
  • Place-Based Media: OOH media is used to create customized advertising programs that generally target specific consumer audiences. This includes advertising in arenas and stadiums, retail video retail networks, health clubs and gyms, bars and restaurants, and movie theaters.
  • Plant: A term used to identify a media company and its entire OOH advertising inventory in a market.
  • Polyethylene (PE): Polyethylene is a widely used thermoplastic polymer consisting of long chains of monomer ethylene. It is recyclable and is used to make single-sheet posters or other billboard substrates.
  • Polypropylene (PP): Polypropylene is a widely used thermoplastic polymer with an intermediate level of crystallinity between low-density and high-density polyethylene. It is recyclable and is used to make single-sheet posters or other billboard substrates.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): Polyvinyl chloride is a thermoplastic polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups or ethenyls, replacing one of their hydrogens with a chloride group. The vinyl is commonly used as an advertising substrate for bulletins and some poster products.
  • Poster: A standardized poster format, typically measuring 12’3” x 24’6”; formally known as a 30-sheet Poster.
  • Posting Date: The date when a poster program is scheduled to commence. A five-day leeway is customary.
  • Posting Instructions: An advertiser or agency provides Detailed directions to an OOH company by assigning specific copies to specific locations.
  • Printed OOH Media: Any OOH display that uses a printed substrate to display advertising content.
  • Proof-of-Performance (POP): Certification by an OOH company that contracted advertising services have been rendered.



  • Reach: The approximate percentage of a target audience’s population who notice an advertising message at least once during an OOH campaign.


  • Screen: An out-of-home (OOH) advertising display capable of rendering digital content.
  • Single Sheet Poster: A poster constructed as a single and continuous substrate. Single-sheet posters are typically made from thermoplastic polymers and can be recycled.
  • Snipe: An adhesive strip that covers a portion of the copy displayed on an OOH unit.
  • Spectacular: A bulletin is usually more significant than 14’ x 48’ and is positioned at a prime location in a market. A spectacular often utilizes unique embellishments.
  • Street Furniture: Advertising displays, many of which provide a public amenity, are positioned close to pedestrians for eye-level viewing or at a curbside to impact vehicular traffic. Street furniture displays include but are not limited to, transit shelters, newsstands/news racks, kiosks, shopping mall panels, convenience store panels, and in-store signage.
  • Substrate: A wide variety of materials used to produce OOH displays. Billboard substrates are typically made from thermoplastic polymers or PVC. Many street furniture and transit substrates are made from Fasson, paper, or film, among other materials.


  • Target Audience: Any audience reflecting the most desired consumer prospects for a product or service, defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity, or income, or their combinations for any geographic definition.
  • Target Rating Points (TRPs): The total number of in-market impressions from a target audience delivered by an OOH campaign expressed as a percentage of a market population.
  • Traffic Count: This records the vehicles and pedestrians passing a given point. TAB uses it to authenticate the circulation that passes outdoor advertising structures.
  • Transit: Displays affixed to moving public vehicles or in the common areas of transit terminals and stations. Transit displays include, but are not limited to, bus panels, train/rail panels, airport panels, taxi panels, and mobile advertising signage.
  • Trim Size: The dimensions of an advertisement substrate once it has been prepared for placement onto an OOH unit.
  • Tri-Vision: An OOH unit with a slatted face allowing three different copy messages to revolve intermittently.


  • UV Coating: Ultraviolet-cured coatings are applied over inks printed onto advertising substrates and dried by exposure to UV radiation. UV coatings prevent color fading on advertisements from sun exposure or other ambient lighting sources.


  • Vinyl: A durable material commonly used for printing large-format advertisements like billboards. Vinyl ads are typically weather-resistant and long-lasting.


  • Wall Mural: Murals painted or attached directly onto the exterior surface of a building.
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