Love them or hate them, outdoor billboards are here to stay! They’ve been around for over 100 years and they’re in the process of being reinvented. The outdoor billboard business is one of the fastest growing areas of the media according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. The other is – you guessed it – the internet.
Billboard Advertising not Affected by Internet
Unlike newspapers, and advertising on television, billboard advertising has not been so affected by the rise and rise of the internet. People are out and about as much as they ever were – in fact more than they ever were and there are more of them. Consumers supposedly spend over seventy percent of their waking hours away from home, and as so many people commute, on average they spend approaching 20hrs per week in a vehicle – mostly in their own vehicle. In these trips they’re more than half the time commuting to work, or shopping, or socialising or eating out. So an advertising medium highly visible to these on-the-move consumers is a very powerful one. A good deal of people don’t even have time to read a newspaper, a magazine, or watch TV, so outdoor advertising is one way of reaching these people that doesn’t rely on them choosing to pay attention to the media.
Put in Perspective
Outdoor billboards are one of the categories in what is typically these days known as Out Of Home (OOH) Advertising and also commonly referred to as outdoor advertising. Billboards are the biggest of these categories (the size of the category is based on the amount of advertising dollars spent in that area) but other well known forms of Outdoor Advertising are mobile advertising displays (like buses) and those in transit stations like airports, and mass-transit terminals, and street furniture is a further well utilised category (bus shelters, bike racks, newsstands, shopping mall ads – wherever people pass on foot. Yet another category is in indoor venues like movie theatres and sporting stadiums, malls and the like.
Between all of these formats, approaching $USD7billion was spend on advertising in 2012 in the US. Those are serious numbers!
Cost Effective Advertising Medium
One of the strengths of Billboard Advertising is it’s relative ‘efficiency’ or cost effectiveness.
Virtually everyone passing a well positioned billboard will get a glimpse of the message and so in terms of ‘impressions’, many more impressions can be delivered cost-effectively than compared with other media – billboard advertising rates are therefore relatively competitively and attractively priced for advertisers.
Innovation and Technology Boosting the Message
With digital billboards becoming more common and cost effective and new technologies and greater creativity coming to the fore, many more messages can be delivered with the same billboard (say, where a digital billboard can deliver 10 advertising messages in a short space of time) and a message can be delivered with greater impact (where billboards can have cars mounted on them, billboards can ‘bleed’ and various additional other props can be utilised using modern materials).
Boosting the Local Brand
Many billboards that people remember will be outdoor ads by large multinational companies, like those in telecommunications, finance, real estate, large retailers and national food services. However, outdoor advertising is considered to be mainly a local business – advertising businesses in the local area. A good proportion of billboard ads are dedicated to the travel and tourism industry, so all things considered, billboard advertising supports local jobs and enterprises, which truly are the backbone of the economy.
The Outdoor Billboard Business
Opportunities abound on many levels to become involved in the outdoor billboard business. The key is to be educated about the industry, do considerable due diligence (research everything you possibly can as deeply and thoroughly as you possibly can – you don’t want any surprises as that’s how money can be lost) and aim to make wise choices. Read everything you possibly can about outdoor billboards before jumping in, and if you’re already in, keep informed with changes in the industry so you are not caught unawares if the tide turns in any particular area of the industry.