Crafting Impactful Large Format Print Ads

November 14, 2023

Large format print ads stand out as larger-than-life avenues for grabbing audience attention. But one thing that people often don't consider when commissioning large format print ads is that they can’t simply be bigger versions of the ads created for another medium or smaller format. Fundamentally, the same photo and layout that works well for a web ad or magazine ad hits differently when it’s the size of a bus.

Envisioning How the Audience Will Engage

Crafting a compelling large format, or Out-of-Home (OOH), advertisement requires you to think about space, context and viewer interaction. We always guide clients through the crucial exercise of envisioning how the audience will engage with the ad both in space and context. Where is your audience going to be? How will they be viewing your ad?

With smaller media that's controlled at close quarters, like a flyer or website, there's not a whole lot of variance in terms of how it will be viewed and consumed. But a billboard or bus ad can be viewed a number of ways. It's like comparing an intimate solo performance to a full symphony played for an entire city to hear.

Deciding on the Density of Information

The world of large format ads introduces an entirely new dimension—the viewer's eyeline. Anticipating the viewer's vantage point is critical. For example, a vertical billboard on a skyscraper means you have to consider key messaging and branding placement, based on the proximity of the foot traffic. These considerations would be different for a street level mural on the side of a building.

In addition, outdoor ads that will be viewed from (or on!) moving vehicles have much shorter windows of legibility than ones that people will walk by. These variables dictate the density of information that can be included, the number of visual elements that can be incorporated and the overall design philosophy.

Telling a Story on a Grand Scale

Every medium has its own language, and large format print ads speak in bold, visual prose. Crafting impactful large format print ads requires more than simply enlarging an existing design. As designers, we can harness the power of large format advertising to tell stories that resonate with audiences on a grand scale.