New Consumer Search Behaviour Research Yields OOH Advertising Insights

New Research

The results of a comprehensive research study into mobile search behaviour have been released, with significant implications for those using out-of-home advertising.

The study, which was undertaken in partnership between Posterscope, JCDecaux, Clear Channel and Global, used three distinct stages to achieve the most complete research on the subject to date.

The Aim of the Study

The first stage aimed to understand why people search in the first place. 

The study identified clear parallels between key search typologies (as identified by Google) and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, finding that human needs closely mirror their web searches. 

The most important needs in the hierarchy were the most searched, whilst higher-level needs were the least represented.

The research also showed that as people spend more time outside the home, the searches they conduct span a wider range of categories, needs, and motivations – particularly those related to location – than those conducted within the home.

Stage two of the study looked into where people search.

For this, an online search diary was completed by more than 1,000 individuals, who documented their mobile search behaviour over a seven-day period. This resulted in a dataset of nearly 10,000 mobile searches, enabling the researchers to understand the differences between mobile searches conducted at home versus out-of-home.

They discovered:

  • Mobile searches outside the home are driven primarily by location needs, sensory cues, and emotions. The top motivation is finding a store address.
  • Consumers are more impulsive when searching outside the home, they often seek inspiration and search in this context is able to enhance their activities and their experiences.
  • Triggers for search can come from sights, sounds, and smells encountered outside the home, and location memories can also prompt searches.
  • Mobile searches outside the home are more likely during weekdays, while searches at home are more frequent on weekends.
  • Mobile searches outside the home take place more often during the day, while at-home searches peak in the evening.
  • Mobile searches outside the home tend to occur in the presence of others, providing more opportunities for word-of-mouth.
The third and final stage of the study looked at how people search, and the part out-of-home advertising plays in driving search.

This research was conducted through an online study of 1100 UK consumers, aged 18 through to 55. The research made use of visual stimuli and asked respondents to answer questions about how different situations would affect their engagement with out-of-home formats.

Here, the research showed:
  • 52% said that seeing advertising on outdoor posters or screens would encourage them to search
  • 58% said that seeing prompt events for products or brands, e.g. sample tasting, interactive opportunities, would motivate them to search
  • 56% said they would be prompted to search by seeing adverts whilst waiting in a particular location
  • 52% said that seeing an advertisement multiple times would encourage them to search
  • 48% said the size and stature of advertising would encourage them to search
  • 62% said out-of-home advertising with a location call-out would motivate them to search.
The research also revealed how creative elements of OOH advertising can affect mobile search behaviour.
What This Means for Out-of-Home

The study highlights the importance of optimising OOH advertising creative according to mobile search behaviour. 

The findings suggest that by aligning advertising messages with consumer needs and motivations, and utilising elements such as concise, humorous copy, website links, eye-catching product images, and bold logos, OOH advertising creative can effectively drive search behavior. 

The study underscores the significance of search behaviour as a reflection of consumer needs, and shows the importance of aligning creative messages and optimising key elements in OOH advertising to maximise their impact on search behaviour.

This research proves beyond doubt that people who spend more time out of home search more frequently on their mobiles and across a wider variety of categories, and searches conducted in out of home locations are more action orientated. Consumers are also encouraged to search in response to what they are doing, the environment around them, and by the many attributes of the OOH medium. This provides a great opportunity for advertisers to optimise their OOH media planning for even more effective results.


Bay Media are an out-of-home provider and the largest provider of lamppost banner advertising in the United Kingdom.

Our OOH formats also include large illuminated banners in shopping centres and raised ‘6 sheet‘ posters. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.