User:Barnes38/advertising tag explanations

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This page provides additional explanations on the tag advertising so that the advertising tag draft is not overloaded.
This page describes the various characteristics of advertising devices, and the various ways of performing classifications on advertising devices.

Rationale of tag advertising

What is "Advertising": any shape or image to inform the public or to attract people's attention.

What is "Outdoor advertising" : all advertisings which can be found outside the home/shops/malls/subway networks/train stations/airports.

What is "Out of Home Advertising" : All advertisings found outside the home.

What is "Mobile Advertising" : Advertising displays affixed to moving vehicles (bus displays, rail displays, and mobile truck displays, any moving vehicles that are equipped with one or more poster panel faces. These moving vehicles can either be parked at specified venues or driven around designated localities.

Advertising units (advertising billboards, advertising signs, advertising indications, etc...) are often landmarks and used by people to orientate themselves, they can be used as waypoints to describe directions to other people. They often play an important role in defining what a particular site or area really looks like, so omitting them from OSM would be too bad. Moreover, in the idea of ​​preserving the quality of life and the landscape environment, some regulations may exist in each country, as far as advertising objects are concerned. As a matter of fact, preserving the quality of the living environment, a major challenge for the territories and populations, is at the heart of landscape policy of each country. Therefore, having a geolocated inventory of advertising objects in OSM is desirable.

What advertising mapping can be integrated with OpenStreetMap ? All outdoor advertisings except the mobile advertisings.

Links related to advertising


The french regulations on outdoor advertising can be found here: Guide pratique sur la réglementation de la publicité extérieure.

OOH Advertising

See Out-of-home_advertising.

Advertising Operators

Many commercial offers on advertising, see for example JCDecaux or kristofcreative.

How to inventory and characterize advertising objects

There could be several ways of inventoring advertising objects, several way of performing classification on advertising objects :

Classification according to the type of advertising device

The various types of advertising are

  • Billboard
  • Board
  • Poster box
  • Totem
  • Column
  • Sign
  • Wall painting
  • Screen
  • Flag
  • Tarp

Other idea : advertising devices are sometimes built in series, each series has a model that is replicated thousands of times, therefore we can characterized an advertising=* object by a model=*.

For France, advertising can be classified according to the french regulations

Classification on the proximity between ad device and activity

This classification is useful for France, where three types of advertising devices are defined, depending on the proximity between the advertising device and the place (where the activity announced by the advertising) takes place.

Sometimes the advertising units look similar, but according to the fact it is placed
- on the property (legal_type:FR=enseigne),
- close to the property (legal_type:FR=préenseigne),
- away from the property where the activity (announced by the advertising) takes place (legal_type:FR=publicité),
then, as far as french rules are concerned, the advertising unit is not of the same kind, and the regulations applying on the advertising device is not the same.

In France, if advertising device is installed on the property advertised : it is called an "enseigne".

Advertising device placed on the property are called signs or advertising sign : a sign that advertises products or services that are produced, manufactured, sold or furnished on the property where the sign is located, any registration sign affixed to a building and on an activity carried on therein.

  • Facade signs depending on whether they are fixed in a horizontal or perpendicular orientation.
  • Roof signs
  • Signs concreted in ground or directly placed on the floor.

Then legal_type:FR=enseigne

In France, if advertising device is installed close to the property advertised : it is called a "préenseigne".

Advertising device placed close to the property are called indications or advertising indication : a sign that advertises products or services that are not produced, manufactured, sold or furnished on the property where the sign is located, but quite close to it, to announce an activity, to indicate direction to this activity, to indicate remaining distance to this activity, to indicate opening hours/days of an activity. Any sign indicating the proximity of a building that has a particular activity.

Then legal_type:FR=préenseigne

In France, if advertising device is placed away from the property advertised : it is called a "publicité"

Advertising device placed away from the property, are just called advertising device : most of the time, any advertising board or device is not specially close to what is advertised.

Then legal_type:FR=publicité

Moreover there are specific rules for urban furniture, and depending the advertising is on a kiosk or on a column for example, the rules which apply are not the same. Advertising columns ("Colonnes") can display only advertising for shows (concert, theatre, cinema, music, ...)
Advertising boards on masts ("Mâts porte-affiche") can display only social, economic, cultural advertising.
Advertising units on urban furniture (poster boxes on public domain, advertising billboards on public domain) have to display same surface of local service information and art than surface of commercial advertising.
Therefore we need to distinguish them :

In France, municipalities have the obligations to reserve display unit boards to "opinions, and advertising to non-profit organizations"

In french : "Affichage d'opinion, et publicité à l'usage des associations à but non lucratif"
Then legal_type:FR=opinions/associations

In France, municipalities often have "JEI

Electronic Display Unit for municipalités ("Journaux électroniques d'informations" or JEI) cannot display advertising messages, but only social services, public service, health service, local life information.
Then legal_type:FR=JEI

Classification according to the supposed respect to the rules

Not an easy job to say if an advertising device respects the rules or not. But we can add one attribute to keep this information legal_status:FR, with three possible values ok, ko, à vérifier.
Sometimes the advertising device obviously does not meet the legal criteria, and in that case it should be set legal_status:FR=ko.

Subjective classification to evaluate the way the advertising device fits well in scenery, or on the contrary is an environmental abomination

Here it is not an objective criteria, we do not want to evaluate the advertising device in relation to the legal rules, we ask the OSM contributor making the survey to provide it own judgement on the way the advertising device fits in the countryside. And this can be stored into visual_pollution:FR.


Classification according to the condition of implantation

Wall advertising

Installed on a previously constructed support, initially dedicated to any other purpose than to support advertising: the wall of any building, boundary wall, fence... As opposed to advertising "concreted in ground or installed directly on the ground".

Advertising concreted in ground or installed directly on the ground

In contrast to the "wall advertising" because it is not installed on a support that existed previously. It is generally set on one post (called a 'trunk' by analogy with a tree, or a 'mast' if smaller in size) or more posts specially designed and planted in the ground for this purpose, more rarely placed directly on the ground (see easels).

Advertising on tarpaulins (tarps)

Tarps mainly installed on scaffolding for building works. Tarps on building facades.

Advertising affixed to street furniture

The main possible categories are :

  • Transit shelters

Advertising displays affixed to a curbside structure located at regular stopping points along a bus or tramway routes. The ad displays are framed glass showcases that are typically backlit and measure approximately 1 m * 2 m (width * height) . Bus shelters, tramway shelters.

  • Newspapers or flower kiosks
  • Columns posters
    • "Morris" Column
  • Other urban furniture

Furniture receiving non-advertising information, general or local character: information, maps, benches, trash cans, glass or other material recycling or recovery, clocks ....

Classification according to the type of property where it is located

Regulations, which differ from one country to another, are sometimes not the same when the advertising unit is installed on a private property, or on a public property.

  • Public land: the advertising device is located on land or in a field owned by a municipality , a local authority, a town, a department, a region, a state.
  • Private land: the advertising device is located on land or in a field owned by an individual, private property.

Ranking based on the message

The main types of messages are :

  • Advertisement on the activities of non-profit organizations
  • Display opinion
  • Electoral posters
  • Map information
  • Town or city, or local authority, or municipality
  • Advertise on cultural events
  • Advertising to inform the public about the dangers they face or obligations on them in places considered dangerous.
  • Legal advertising
  • And of course commercial advertisings which constitute the vast majority, and should be the default value.

Very often, advertising boards have two sides (sometimes 3 or 4), and each side displays a different type of message : the message displayed in front of the flow of people (or vehicles) is commercial, while the message displayed in the reverse flow (contrary to the flow) is informative.

More technical characteristics on advertising devices

Impact or visibility

The major challenge for a brand is the impact of its advertising campaign, and the visibility of signs on which the advertisement is displayed. On the contrary, the visibility measures the nuisance of the advertising sign, the visual pollution, the landscape deterioration.

To be able to compute the impact of visibility of an advertising device, several parameters must be taken into account :

  • its size (width * height) or its format (some formats are 'well-known format' and intrinsically give exact indication on the size).
  • the height of the top part of the advertising device, this 'height' must not be confused with the height of the advertising display.
  • if it is illuminated or not, how is illuminated, and how long.
  • if it is animated or not, and how it is animated.
  • if it is located in front of the flow of people or vehicles, or not (in front of the flow, parallel to the flow, 45° with the flow, same side than the flow, opposite side of the flow)
  • the position relative to the number of flows, for example, a sign on an intersection can be seen from four different angles.
  • what is the attendance of the place : the number of people or cars passing by must be taken into account, etc.

Size or format

There are different display formats and size, depending on country.

In each country, a specific format has a specific name which refers to a particular type of unit.

The measurement units can be different from one country to an other.

So we can characterize an ad unit either by its format, or by its size.

One much distinguish the size of the display from the size of the device (french regulations considers both of them for two different purposes, the size of the device to verify conformity of the advertising unit, and the size of the display to compute the tax (TLPE : Taxe Locale sur la Publicité Extérieure).

Well known formats
  • The common formats in France are billboards of ~12 m² (4m*3m) and billboards of ~6 m² (3m*2m), and there are greater format than 12 m² 's one.
  • There are also many ~2 m² (1m * 2m) : "poster box" (also called "lollipops", "snowshoe").
  • But also all intermediate formats: ~8 m², ~4 m²
  • The masts posters and "totems" : ~2 m².
  • Micro display : built-in "commercial storefront " (window, door frames less than ~1 m²).
  • There are as well more giant displays, up to 1000 m².
  • Bulletin billboard (USA) measuring 14' x 48' in overall size, or even larger.
  • sheet formats
    • 4-Sheet Posters
    • 6-Sheet Posters
    • 8-Sheet Posters 6' x 12' = 1.8288m x 3.6576m
    • 12-Sheet Posters
    • 16-Sheet Posters
    • 30-Sheet Billboards 12' x 25' = 3.6576m x 7.62
    • 32-Sheet Billboards
    • 48-Sheet Billboards 12' x 25' = 3.6576m x 7.62
    • 96-Sheet Billboards

Many commercial offers on advertising, see for example or


Size should be always be given using same convention : width * height.

Display size

Display size should be always be given using same convention : width * height.


We are talking about of the top part of the advertising device, and not of the height of the advertising display.
The height is taken into account to compute the 'impact'.
For example we can have

Default unit system is metric system, height=6 means that the upper part of the ad device is located at a height of 6 meters.

Non-illuminated or illuminated

  • Non-luminous, non-illuminated, Un-illuminated advertising - A unit that has not been equipped with lighting for nighttime illumination of an advertising message. The visibility rating for an un-illuminated unit is calculated using a 12-hour viewing period.
  • Illuminated advertising - A unit equipped with lighting that provides nighttime illumination of an advertising message, usually from dusk until midnight. The visibility rating for an illuminated unit is calculated using an 18 or 24-hour viewing period. Several technics can be used :
    • Illuminated by transmission, transilluminated.
    • Illuminated reflectors, illuminated by projected light.
    • Lettering and light boxes, neons.
    • Numeric devices, led displays, plasma, giant TVs, jumbotrons.

Static or animated or electrically animated

Advertising boards or devices are mainly static, therefore they are not animated.
They can be sometimes animated by the wind, for basic advertising devices.
But more and more often, they are animated, so that the advertising message is regularly changed.
The movement attracts the attention of people, and more messages are displayed.

We would say a advertising unit is animated if it allows different messages to revolve at intermittent intervals.

Several mechanisms exist

  • By rotating triangular blades, or triangular prisms that rotate, a.k.a. Trivision.
  • By successive scrolling or winding of posters at regular intervals.
  • By rotating the advertising device, quite common for advertising column.
  • By showing videos.
  • Digital messages, or digital prices.
  • Some mechanisms are animated with teh wind, flags or easels rotating on themselves thanks to the wind.

Number of sides

  • The number of sides of a unit where advertising is displayed. A unit may have more than one side.
    Sometimes only 1 side, sometimes 2 sides, 3 sides or 4 sides are possible.
    Default is 1, generally one side is front of the flow, another side is reverse to the flow.
    On car-parks of supermarkets we find quite often big advertising signs, with 3 or 4 sides.

Number of sides should not be confused with the the number of faces. A face is a single poster which is displayed, and when there are animated devices with winding posters, the number of faces is the number of different posters which are displayed, one after another. Then, different faces can be displayed on a single side.


Display company, or advertising company, or brand which exploits the advertising device.


Owner can be different from the operator. The one who owns the advertising device.


Exact reference of the unit

New advertising tag may conflict with existing tags

How to create a new set of attributes related to advertising without having conflict with existing tags...
We understand that what we are proposing is a way of seeing things, from the advertising device point of view.

  • We provide a few examples below :
    • Flag
      • For example, there exists a tag value 'man_made=flagpole', which looks like the 'advertising=flag' attribute we are proposing below.
      • If we consider first the flag and we would say 'man_made=flagpole'.
      • If we consider first as an advertising device which has the form of a flag, and we would say : 'advertising=flag'.
    • Clock
      • Other example, there exists a tag value 'amenity=clock' focused on public clocks visible by anybody, and the clock are characterised by their 'support', which looks like the 'advertising:support' attribute we are proposing below.
      • If we consider first the 'clock' : amenity=clock + support=board or support=wall_mounted on one side.
      • If we consider first as an advertising device having a clock added : advertising=billboard advertising:clock=yes advertising:support=wall on the other side.
    • Information
      • Other example, there exists a tag value 'information=tourism' with 'information=map' or 'information=board' which is another way of presenting what I suggest below with the 'advertising:message' attribute we are proposing below.
      • If we consider first a board as being a tourism information, we would say : tourism=information + support=board + information=board + board_type=public_transport.
      • If we consider first as an advertising device having a map information message : advertising=board + advertising:message=map_information.