A resume is typically crafted to highlight a person’s skill set and positive attributes. It is written to present that person’s “Best Version” of themselves to prospective employers.
Billboards have a similar document used much like the human resume. Different outdoor companies call those documents by different names, from “Ride Sheets” to “Photo Sheets” to “Location Sheets” to the less frequently used name today, “Photo-liths”. No matter what you call them, they function much like a human’s resume. They are intended to provide background information about that unit, its location on the road, the direction it is facing, side of the road it is located, the interesting destinations people travel to nearby as well as the weekly impressions it is rated to deliver.
Most importantly, and thankfully unlike most humans resumes, these come with pictures. For buyers that may have geographic obstacles preventing them from doing a traditional “pre-ride” physical inspection of billboard locations, these pictures serve as a surrogate solution. Most have multiple views of the board. Some from down the sightline or “contact zone” and some up close called “beauty shots”. These pictures are intended to sway media buyers to select these boards for OOH campaigns. The photos are also the outdoor companies’ way to present the best version of that board for buyers to view.
Not All Photos Sheets Are Created Equal
The job of the photos is to deliver the best views of the board. We have seen some pretty tricky photos taken from angles that often require a photographer with a risk-taking persona and the flexibility of a contortionist. My point is, if the photo’s look good, that is great, and some buyers will accept the location and the photo at face value.
Unfortunately, not all photo sheets are created equally, and some photo’s do not represent an accurate view of what potential viewers might see. When the Outdoor Media buy requires maximizing impressions quickly and the product or service is less specific, random locations may work. On the other hand, if the client has a more constrained budget and is focused on reach, frequency, and more dispersed engagements, then it becomes all the more important to take a closer look at those “Photo Sheets” when selecting boards.
Inspect What You Expect
In conjunction with overview maps, “Photo sheets” are a helpful starting point in the billboard selection process.
We have found it helps to try to envision yourself in the shoes of the viewer.
* Is the photo taken at an angle that most people would view it?
* Is the image or images unusually close to the board or does it only provide a close-up “beauty shot”?
* What time of year was the photo taken? Summer growth often obscures board views.
* Is the board located in a busy business boulevard? Store signs can block a board’s view from the road.
Any of these red flags are usually worth a buyer’s drive down the street on Google Map view or a search on Geopath’ s platform to view the boards from the street level. Once found, the secondary perspective can provide the ability to virtually drive down the road (with your mouse) to see the board as a person in a car would. It can help determine the approximate dwell time and distance the board might be viewed in the contact zone. Very often you will find out that the board has a sign, a building, a tree or other vegetation blocking the boards view from the road. Check your “Weekly Impression” levels as well and consider if the calculation included a secondary road in their “Likely-to-see” measurement. That can sometimes skew the accuracy of the impressions reported.
Its ok occasionally to “take peoples word” for the veracity of a presented board. My advice to those looking to buy a campaign utilizing out of home, do your due diligence. If you don’t “Inspect, what you Expect” you could be doing your client a disservice. So just like that resume, if a “Photo Sheet” has any “red flags” it’s always worth checking a few of the board’s “references”, with Google maps or Geopath to make sure you are getting what you expect.