Artwork Specifications for Commonly Used OOH Formats

In this PDF, we share OAAA (Outdoor Advertising Association of America) approved artwork specifications for preparing your files for optimal output. The specifications in this document were made with input from Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor, Fairway Outdoor, Circle Graphics, and Independent’s Service Company.

Page 8 of the PDF below shows specific guidelines for preparing your files.

FINAL-OAAA Production Webinar

As always, you can reach us at 800-325-3694 for immediate answers to any artwork or print related question. Below is another PDF with guidelines for setting up artwork optimized for our printing equipment.


Allan Atkins

Enhancing Your Design for Outdoor Advertising

CharlieBrownFarms2 CharlieBrownFarms1Here we have two billboard designs from an advertiser that is new to out of home advertising.

After a few minutes of reading and comparing the two designs, it’s revealed the advertiser is Charlie Brown Farms.  These ads are the kind of seizure-inducing blasts of color and copy that usually repel potential customers before they can process any of the information wedged into these layouts.  Honestly, even the Pink Floyd show I saw back in 1994 could not come close to giving me a headache like these two billboards are currently doing.

Details, you say?  What specifically makes these two of the first billboards I’d jettison in the event of an outdoor advertising emergency?

These two billboards lack readability; they are very difficult to read, even while viewing them on a computer monitor.  My eyes cannot stay on any one line of copy or graphical element without constantly being distracted by the items around it.  Trying to read these is the visual equivalent of trying to put two magnets end to end as one pushes the other away.  So the worst mistake is overcrowding.  Billboards are not brochures, are not internet pages, are not flyers you hang in the hallway at work.  You’ve got just a few seconds to get your message across, and the only message these boards are effectively relaying is confusion.

What’s with the Mickey Mouse ears on the top corners?  These are like footnotes in War And Peace, and they are the first items I’d remove.  They add nothing positive to the overall design.

Who is the advertiser?  Texas Style BBQ?  BBQ Deli & Grill?  Mini Donuts?  Some random location with a new fudge shop?  Would you be willing to pull the family off the interstate to see the “world’s largest beef jerky slab”?  What is a “date shake”?  It sounds almost criminal.  One day getaway?  How much of this copy makes any sense at all?  Would the advertised items persuade you to visit Charlie Brown Farms?

One or two graphic elements and three lines of copy would be a nice contrast to the clutter of these designs.  What is the most popular reason people visit?  Or the second most?  Advertising those aspects would be an effective way to advertise what Charlie Brown Farms has to offer.

Removing 90% of the current items in these two designs should allow viewers to read the name of the advertiser, their location, and a brief description of the variety at Charlie Brown Farms, in all of its funnel cake glory.  And the mini donut character would make for a much more effective extension off the board than either date shakes or gift & doll shop.

Charlie Brown Farms looks like a great place to stop for a shake on I-95, and their outdoor advertising could better reflect that with a few changes.

Below we have taken their design, and enhanced it to be more effective for use as a roadside billboard.


In summary, we’ve taken a kaleidoscope of items and given it focus.  The words “Family Fun” and the Mini-Donut graphic are a big part of the essence of Charlie Brown Farms, and will be more effective than the roulette wheel of items in the original designs.  We could have used an image of a large jerky stick or a large shake, and we chose the Mini-Donut to illustrate how to trim up the hedges blocking the house, metaphorically speaking, because it was already included in the original designs.

Future blog articles will be forthcoming, right after we break for funnel cakes and deep fried twinkies.

Michael Bailey – Graphic Designer
Independent’s Service Company

Out of Home Is Primed for Takeoff

The Amazon Prime Air drone carrying a package

The Amazon Prime Air drone carrying a package

The weekend after Thanksgiving, Amazon revealed Amazon “Prime Air,” a delivery service currently in the testing phase to deliver same-day packages via unmanned flying drones directly to your doorstep. Fear not, for the FAA is working on rules and regulations to ensure our safety while that power tool, t-shirt, or digital gadget is flown safely over our heads and prepares to approach in low-visibility conditions to your neighbors’ front porch. (By the way, does this create an advertising opportunity for someone, besides Amazon? And, more importantly, does my insurance policy cover the malfunction of unmanned aerial vehicles?) See the story on 60 Minutes.

In all seriousness, what an amazing, innovative, and forward thinking idea. Being super responsive to customer needs (the increasing demand for fast delivery in this case) is one way to help ensure the health and viability of any business. While the current technology being tested by Amazon would limit delivery to packages weighing no more than 5 pounds and within a 10-mile flight radius, it’s not unfeasible to imagine a scenario where products such as printed billboards could be delivered within hours.

In similar ways, OOH suppliers are responding to the increased expectations of OOH advertisers. While we will leave the logistics to Amazon and the FAA, today’s OOH printing technology allows orders to ship the same day they are received. Technology today has decreased print time while increasing print quality. Posters and bulletins are able to be printed, finished, and packaged in just a few hours. This allows OOH sales personnel to sell campaigns at the last hour and satisfy increasingly demanding customers. This in turn allows the OOH industry to be more responsive and more effectively compete with other media, especially those that may be seen (whether accurately or not) as being faster to respond. Campaigns that post on-time, or possibly early at times, result in satisfied advertisers, and are beneficial for outdoor companies as well, as they can begin invoicing for the campaign.

If or until Amazon officially unveils Prime Air, and printed billboards are available “Next-Hour”, the fastest method of shipment will predominantly remain next day air with one of the major shipping carriers. But stay tuned, as today’s printing technology combined with current online ordering and proof approval methods means the ability to order, print, deliver, and install printed OOH campaigns within hours could soon be here.

Allan Atkins
Independent’s Service Company

Design Tips for Great Looking Double Sided Pole Banners

The cost to print & install pole banners can be significant, and with a few tips, designing artwork that’s appropriate for pole banners can save much time and effort later.

One of the keys to successful pole banners is simplicity, and another is the placement of the artwork on the banner itself.

For example, we see a lot of artwork which runs right to the edge of the “live area”, the space which is viewable once a graphic has been printed and finished. If a pole banner is 48″ tall x 30″ wide, it would not be uncommon to see a graphic design which fills out those dimensions.

When designing artwork, we suggest keeping important graphic elements and copy a few inches from each edge of the live area. It’s all right to let the background run off the edges, but the rest of the text items in a design – a company name, title of an event, dates, phone numbers, websites – should be kept a few inches away from each edge. Failure to do so, could result in pole banners that look like this.

Text running through hems

Text running through hems on the sides, and through the 3″ pole pocket.

Many pole banners have a 3″ pocket at top and on the bottom (though this varies and can be anywhere from 1 – 4″ or larger). Our hem (or stitch line) on the pockets consumes another 1″ inch of material. So 4″ at top, and 4″ at bottom, must be allotted for the text to read without crossing into the pocket for a 3″ pocket.

The general rule of thumb is to add 1″ to the size of the pole pocket. If a 2″ pocket is all that’s needed, allow 3″ at top and 3″ at bottom and your finished design should be safe to print.

There’s no need to worry about stitching on the left and right sides, as we do not recommend side hems in our double-sided banners.

As long as all important items are kept within this area, you can feel confident that any wording and graphic elements will not have any sewn threads tracking through them, which can reduce their readability and effectiveness.

10' x 22' mesh stage backdrop (printed on mesh supreme)

Care was taken when designing this mesh banner to ensure that all logos & text were kept several inches away from the top pockets and side hems.

When we produce double-sided pole banners, some of the material from one side is folded over on top and bottom. Occasionally the folded material doesn’t align properly, and a fraction of an inch offset is all it takes to “break” letters and graphics.

Like all printed products, taking time at the beginning to create a good design & using proper proportions will ensure a beautiful product.



How much does a banner cost?

Our banners are priced based on the size (height x width), quantity of each design, type of material, finishing options, and whether or not you need our designers to create your artwork. Due to the myriad options that are available, it is nearly impossible to price banners simply by the square foot.

Banners come in all sizes, from 1’ x 2’ to 80’ x 130’ and beyond. 3’ x 8’ and 3’ x 6’ are two of the more common sizes we print, but the best size for you will depend on the location you are hanging the banner and the distance your banners will be viewed from.

What material is best for your banners will depend on a few factors. Are your banners going inside or outside. Printed on one side only or are they double-sided banners. Will they be exposed to strong winds over a long period of time, or used for a few days and then never used again. All of these factors determine which material would be best for your particular needs. Our standard banner material is 12 oz vinyl. This is suitable for interior or exterior applications, as it holds up well to wind and sun. In particularly windy conditions, mesh may be preferable to vinyl. The mesh weave minimizes wind resistance and allows air to pass through the material. Mesh also typically weighs less than vinyl, which can be helpful during installation of a banner which is several hundred to a few thousand square feet in size.

The finishing options on banners are numerous. This includes sewn or heat welded hems along the edges, reinforced webbing inside the hems to add reinforcement and increased strength (particularly helpful for exterior banners), pole pockets, and a variety of edge treatments (grommets, D-rings, velcro) used to attach the banners. Another blog post will be written explaining all of our different finishing options.

Artwork and design is the final factor effecting price. For all orders, we have a $75 fee that covers our expense associated with preflighting and proofing the artwork, set up and RIP time, labor, and press-proofing each design for color, RIP accuracy and content, and file archiving.  We can (and sometimes do) adjust that amount on an order with multiple designs that we know will all process very similarly – same colors for color matching, same elements for RIP etc where charging $75 for each and every file is excessive. For this reason, a quantity of 1 banner is going to cost more on a per unit basis, than 2 or more banners of the same design. It is also why a 2’ x 3’ banner will cost more per square foot than a 10’ x 24’ banner.

We have a team of designers that are experienced at designing banners. We can use your ideas, logos, or images to design an eye-catching banner that will represent your company or event in a professional manner. We can also find the perfect image for you from stock photography, and design from scratch using your ideas & input.

Contact us today at 800-325-3694. Or e-mail us at for more information, including samples!

8' x 22' mesh stage backdrop (printed on mesh supreme)

10′ x 22′ mesh stage backdrop (printed on mesh supreme)
Printed front & back
Finished with 1″ hems, webbing, & grommets along the sides
3″ pole pocket top & bottom