America is a very different place than it was when Jared Bell printed the first large format advertisement in 1835. Measuring 50 square feet, the ads drew New Yorkers to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and heralded the creation of another spectacle that would outlast the traveling show: out of home (OOH) advertising.
Bell’s circus promotion may have been the largest ever printed, but it was far from the first. The ancient Egyptians carved messages on stone pillars as a way to broadcast information to the populace, and Johannes Gutenberg’s 15th-century invention of a printing press with moveable type brought posters to the masses.
It took nearly three decades after Bell printed the first jumbo poster for entrepreneurs to monetize the displays — billboards — by leasing them to eager advertisers. Over time, the popularity of outdoor advertising blossomed, and in 1891 the introduction of the Associated Bill Posters’ Association of the US and Canada (now the Out of Home Advertising Association of America) brought billboards permanently into the limelight.
In 2019, North American advertisers spent nearly $10.4 billion on traditional outdoor ads. In the same timeframe, they spent an estimated $2.72 billion on digital OOH. (The difference between traditional and digital ads is interactivity. In traditional, we see static images for a day, week, month, or season, and with digital we are engaged by animated messaging that changes every few seconds.)
As advancements in technology make advertising more dynamic and impactful, the future of OOH is moving at light speed — and that pace is ideal for the trailblazers at Circle Graphics.
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