Norton Outdoor Advertising

TAB Out of Home Ratings 101

Welcome to Norton Outdoor's TAB Out of Home Ratings 101. Here you'll learn more about the new ratings system from the Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB) and how it affects buying and selling of outdoor advertising. Information below courtesy of the TAB.


The Outdoor Advertising Industry and its stakeholders have engaged in a radically new measurement System.

TAB Out of Home Ratings is an initative of the outdoor advertising industry, advertisers and advertising agencies. TAB Out of Home Ratings research is authored by the Traffic Audit Bureau. The TAB has been the recognized authority for reporting traffic counts for the outdoor industry since 1933.

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TAB Out of Home Ratings is an audience measurement system designed to replace the opportunity to see methodology with “actually noticing” research. 

Several years ago, TAB members met to articulate the major needs of the Out of Home industry. Both buyers and sellers agreed that improved audience measurement was the industry’s #1 priority. They recognized that the lack of credible audience measurement limited the use of Out of Home. They also wanted measures similar to those used by other media so that Out of Home would receive full consideration when advertisers set their multimedia campaigns and budgets.

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TAB Out of Home Ratings will change and improve the way that Out of Home media are bought and sold.

TAB Out of Home Ratings are a much richer and more credible currency for buying and selling Out of Home media. It will provide ways to distinguish the unique value of various Out of Home packages based on the audiences they Eyes Onactually deliver. TAB Out of Home Ratings will help identify both high reach mass and highly targeted campaigns.

Local sellers will use TAB Out of Home Ratings to demonstrate how Out of Home can effectively compete and be used in conjunction with other local media.

TAB Out of Home Ratings will also make it easier for planners to assess the power of Out of Home media when used in combination with other media. Most importantly, TAB Out of Home Ratings will provide a new level of accountability that will generate more confidence and use among advertisers.

Buyers and sellers will have an opportunity to examine traditional concepts, such as showing levels and plant defined markets, and decide how they evolve into TAB Out of Home Ratings and a 21st century approach to the marketing of the Out of Home media.

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Eyes On Demographics

For the first time ever, outdoor will offer media planners and buyer demographic information similar to other media.

TAB Out of Home Ratings include demographic breakdowns based on gender, age, ethnicity and household income levels, which will allow advertisers to maximize the ROI of their outdoor media buys.

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TAB OOH Ratings audiences are different and superior to the circulation counts they replace.

TAB Out of Home Ratings replace DECs as the industry’s measurement currency. While the old DEC-based system provided accurate measures of circulation, it had several deficiencies that prevented it from being a true audience measurement system. Here are several of the major limitations of DECs and the old audit system:

• DECs were NOT a measure of audience and were heavily discounted by buyers.

• Demographics were the same for all displays and operators.

• The system could not distinguish between in-market and out of market travelers.

• The system did not consider the impact of travel patterns and the geographic dispersion of displays in a campaign on its reach and frequency.

TAB Out of Home Ratings addresses each of these limitations and provides a much richer and discriminating measurement system.


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TAB Out of Home Ratings is the first system, for any medium, to report audiences noticing ads.

Out of Home media is the first to provide advertisers with a measurement system based on the commercial audiences who are noticing advertising.

What exactly is noticing? In TAB Out of Home Ratings, it is a physiological measure of eye contact with the display and its advertising for a fraction of a second. Noticing tells you the roll of the display and its environmental position to draw people to its ad. Noticing does not attempt to measure the consumer’s engagement or involvement with the ad; that is the role of the creative ad copy and not the media display.

DECs, which were measures of gross circulation, were often discounted by buyers. Discounting should stop with the introduction of TAB Out of Home Ratings. TAB Out of Home Ratings and DECs are two totally different measures and should not be compared. TAB Out of Home Ratings are a more precise audience definition than used by any other medium. Remember, these new ratings are a true reflection of the audience seeing the advertising.

Related Links: TAB Brief: Visibility Research


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TAB Out of Home Ratings are based on high quality research, providing accurate and credible measurement.

TAB Out of Home Ratings are a high quality research system founded in worldwide best-practices in Out of Home measurement. Unlike most media research, TAB Out of Home Ratings also required a thorough understanding of travel and mobility research. Eyes On Research

TAB Out of Home Ratings are based on an integrated research program utilizing information gathered from a variety of sources. Six separate research companies contributed to the study. Their expertise included traffic engineering, survey research, perceptual research and modeling. The program was conducted with the oversight of TAB’s Technical Committee; comprised of leading media research experts.

The fundamental architecture, or platform, of TAB Out of Home Ratings is robust. It can accommodate enhancements and expansion as required by the industry.

Related Links: TAB Brief: The Research


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Welcome to a new age in Outdoor Advertising Measurement... Welcome to TAB Out of Home Rating. For more detailed information, visit


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Quick Points

• The new ratings system has risen from a measurement of “opportunity to see,” to a measurement of “actually noticing ” 

• This literally provides a measurement of the number of people that will see a given ad

• The new units of measurement are called "impressions"

• TAB Out of Home Ratings replace DECs

How TAB Out of Home Ratings Are Calculated

The TAB took into consideration multiple factors that contribute to an out-of-home display (and it's ad) being noticed. These factors include:

• Display format

• Display size

• Side of the road

• Angle to the road

• Type of street

• Display distance to road

Eyes On Releases:

arrow Norton TAB OOH Ratings Poster Advantage, 18+ HHI PDF

06/03/09 TAB Releases Data for Cincinnati Market

06/03/09 Media Life Magazine: "At Last, Who Actually Sees Billboards"


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