The summer days are once more drawing to a close, which means advertisers are gearing up for the back-to-school season. School students, college students, teachers, professors, lecturers and parents everywhere are preparing for the upcoming school year, which means it’s time to get your back-to-school marketing strategy ready for the shift in consumer focus.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what you need to consider when designing your back-to-school marketing campaigns, and how you can use digital out of home or DOOH advertising to reach your target audience this school year.

How to Create a Successful DOOH Advertising Campaign

Advertising in the Back-to-School Season

Back-to-school shopping is one of the most important retail periods on the calendar. As another carefree summer ends, people start searching for brand new products to get ready to knuckle down once more for another school year.

The back-to-school season lasts from about the middle of summer to the middle of fall. From a consumer’s perspective, it’s an exciting time full of promise and new beginnings, which translates into big sales opportunities as school shoppers fill their carts with all manner of school supplies.

According to the National Retail Federation’s latest back-to-school survey, the top three categories for back-to-school spending this year will be electronics ($13 billion), clothing ($11 billion), and shoes ($ 7 billion).

For the back-to-college segment, it’s electronics ($18 billion), dorm/apartment furnishings ($10 billion), and clothing ($10 billion).

This equates to the average back-to-school family spending $864 this year, while college students and their families are expected to spend nearly $1,200 on average.

Back to school family spending vs back to college family spending

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The back-to-school season is perfect for sales – meaning all kinds of businesses can take advantage of this fantastic opportunity with some great back-to-school campaigns.

Who Makes Up the Back-to-School Target Audience?

As with all marketing campaigns, the best results can be achieved when you tailor your back-to-school promotions to your target audience.

Back-to-school shoppers are quite a varied bunch, broadly covering four distinct categories:

  • Parents and caregivers
  • K-12 students
  • College students
  • Teachers/Lecturers/Professors

Your campaigns and promotions, therefore, are likely to change, based on your target market’s needs and preferences.

For example, both parents and college students are budget-conscious back-to-school shoppers – and will likely be attracted by special sales, coupons, discounts and flash promotions. Teachers and lecturers, meanwhile, will be on the lookout for some great deals on classroom supplies.

The promise of savings is key to many successful back-to-school marketing campaigns that target these cohorts.

DOOH Marketing Ideas for School Supplies and Clothing

According to The Harris Poll and the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the return of in-person school sessions has prompted 75% of consumers to spend more than usual on school essentials.

Percentage of back to school shoppers that will be looking for OOH Ads.

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The poll also indicates that 68% of these consumers will be seeking OOH advertising to determine their purchase decisions, and 69% will lean towards in-store shopping.

Percentage of shoppers planning to shop online vs physical stores and the top back-to-school products

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With most Back-to-school shoppers preferring to head in-store for shopping, advertisers have a great opportunity to engage with them in close proximity to the final point of sale. This can be easily achieved through powerful programmatic DOOH (pDOOH) platforms like The Neuron, which can be used to display targeted ads on digital screens near or within supermarkets and shopping malls at precise times of day when target demographics are known to be present.

How to Create a Successful DOOH Advertising Campaign


pDOOH platforms utilize anonymized mobile location data (plus data from other sources) to build up a picture of where different consumer groups spend their time in their localities. Back-to-school advertisers can then use this data to target, for instance, parents in radiuses around specific retail locations at key times throughout the day and week.

A great example comes from retail giant Walmart, which launched a back-to-school campaign targeting shoppers on digital billboards near Walmart stores.

Walmart back-to-school campaign

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The campaign resulted in a lift in brand consideration, ad recall and purchase intent for the supermarket chain.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Tesco, meanwhile, provide us with some inspiration for DOOH back-to-school clothing advertising.

This year, both brands launched DOOH campaigns targeting budget-conscious family buyers of school uniform. M&S took the opportunity to promote its 20% discount offer, using the creative to highlight the fact that kids can get messy at school – with the overall message being that M&S is helping parents stock up on spare uniform by providing them with a discount.

M&S back-to-school DOOH campaign

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Tesco, meanwhile, wanted to let parents know that its uniforms were “Made to last – or your money back”, again highlighting that it’s an expensive time of year for parents, so they’re getting a good deal and a great promise on clothes that are tough enough to withstand the boisterous play of children.

Tesco back-to-school campaign

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Both brands delivered their DOOH ads in high-traffic areas to ensure maximum exposure and impact – one of the many great benefits of digital out of home advertising.

Launch Your Back-to-School Campaigns in Minutes with The Neuron

The back-to-school marketing season is well underway – which means, to take advantage of DOOH advertising to reach your target audience, you need a platform that lets you launch your campaigns quickly. And what’s more, we can also target late back to school shoppers within a specific proximity of 1 – 2 miles around schools and malls.

The Neuron is an easy-to-use pDOOH platform that connects advertisers to premium DOOH inventory all around the country. With our free-to-use DOOH Design Studio, you can design your back-to-school DOOH ads in no time using our professionally crafted templates. Then, simply upload them to The Neuron, select your screens, your targeting, criteria and your budget and your ad is good to go.

Don’t waste any time. Try The Neuron today.

How to Create a Successful DOOH Advertising Campaign