Billboards, somehow it seems as if they’ve always been around. Grazing the sides of highways or facades of inner city buildings, their appearance long dominated local advertising. But how do billboards fit in with today’s marketing strategies, in a world that’s ‘digital first’? Is billboard advertising still effective? And if so, how can you use billboard advertising to your advantage?
“Billboard advertising” refers to the use of large-scale print advertisements, placed in high-traffic areas, such as train stations or along highways – wherever one sees the highest number of drivers or pedestrians passing by.
The Goals of Billboard Advertising
Billboards are powerful tools used to build brand awareness and attract customers. Since the average person views a billboard for only a few seconds, their main purpose is to reinforce brand recognition, not to sell a product or service then and there.
- 71 percent of customers remember the billboards that they see on a daily basis
As we go about our days, commute to and from work, advertisers have plenty of opportunities to catch our attention. After all, not everyone’s glued to their screens, all of the time. That makes us a captive audience.
And strategically placed billboards have a reinforcing nature, because we often see them several times a week. That makes us familiar with a brand and establishes trust – in a very non-invasive way.
A road safety advertisement attracts attention with the unusual signage that mimics the scene of a car crash. Source: BoredPanda
How Much Does Billboard Advertising Cost?
Billboard advertising involves paying for ad space in public areas to market a brand, product or service. But the thing is, you’re not just paying to “rent” ad space. There is also the cost of designing, printing and setting up your billboard. That’s easily an additional $1000 or more, depending on the size of the project, the agency you work with and the location of the advertising space.
How big of a dent a billboard makes in your marketing budget, depends on a few factors, including:
- Circulation: How many people pass by the billboard each week?
- Impressions: How many people are estimated to see your billboard each week?
- Demographics: Who are the people that pass through your billboard?
And not to forget:
- The size of your billboard
- The length of your leasing period
- Your design, production and installation cost
There are countless billboards located throughout Australia and Brisbane. Smaller sites can cost anywhere between $2000 to $4000 a month. And then there’s the top end to the scale. The grain silos billboard overlooking Sydney’s Anzac Bridge, for example, costs a cool $250,000 for 28 days.
A billboard advertising the BBC series Dracula, changes its appearance as the day progresses. In the daylight it starts as a simple billboard with stakes stabbed into the left side. At night, a light casts a shadow leaving the impression of a vampire figure.
How is Billboard Advertising Success Measured?
This is where things get a little tricky. You might be used to running ad campaigns on Facebook and Google Ads. Both come with excellent, inbuilt tools to monitor and measure the success of your marketing efforts, create reports and pin-point areas that need to be improved upon.
But how does this work ‘offline’? It seems much more challenging to measure how many people exactly stopped by your store or picked up your product at the supermarket after seeing your billboard ad.
How can you determine your return-of-investment (ROI) when that data isn’t clear and immediately available? Of course, there’s a way. Clever marketers have struggled with this problem before, and they’ve come up with a few solutions.
To measure the ROI of their billboard advertising efforts, you could:
- Analyse and compare sales numbers before and after the campaign
- Use discount vouchers or QR codes to track the number of visitors and assign sales
- Create a landing page or mini site that’s linked to a specific billboard
- Use social media hashtags to track interactions associated with a billboard campaign
- Simply ask: Use a survey on your website to ask visitors how they learned about you
What got the ball rolling, were large scale prints ordered by Jared Bell in 1935 New York. The oversized, illustrated posters he printed, showcased the circus act “The Great Wallace Shows”. Source: Do Media
Is Billboard Advertising Really Worth It?
That leaves us with one question: Should you or should you not invest in billboard advertising?
Against popular belief, it’s proven to be a resilient industry. Whilst it’s not the go-to inbound marketing method anymore, we think that an average ROI of 497 percent and an expected 10 per cent annual growth rate throughout 2021, certainly warrant your attention.
Outdoor media advertising is said to be one of the easiest ways to prompt a consumer into taking a desired action. When you watch a TV show or scroll through a social media feed, advertising is usually rather disruptive. Most of the time, it’s a little annoying, even slightly frustrating. You’re probably quick to switch to another channel, scroll away or skip forward.
Billboards, on the other hand, don’t stop you from doing whatever you were up to. They are not as forceful and in some cases, when they’re particularly well-designed and positioned, they can even be a welcome distraction.
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Uber is fighting racism one billboard at a time: Strong words with a very clear meaning get people thinking and supplement Uber’s existing social media activities – Source: Broadsign
According to recent statistics, we now see around 5,000 ads per day. Social media advertising is said to be less effective the more we are exposed to it. Just think about it. How often have you looked at your Facebook feed and thought, “God, I sure love being bombarded with ads!”. It’s rather unlikely, is it not?
In the short 24 hours we have each day, we consume so much media and advertising that we become desensitised. Our brains learn to ignore a great deal of the ads we see everyday. This makes it quite difficult for brands to break through the clutter.
Billboards aim to do just that. There is no blocking or skipping here, and well-designed, larger-than-life signs are simply hard to miss. Plus, if you don’t like it, you’re not going to start taking a different way to work.
But we get it, if your year of birth starts with the number two or you’ve been married to your smartphone for as long as you can remember, you might need a little more convincing.
Whether that’s you or not, check out the following stats:
- Billboard advertising reaches 83.3 percent of Australians each month
- 74 per cent of Australians see billboards every day, several times a week
- 46 per cent of people believe billboards bring new products to their attention
Consumers clearly think that billboards influence their purchasing decisions. Funny, thought-provoking or shocking billboard advertising seems to spark conversations in ways Facebook or Google Ads never could.
And whilst it may be counterintuitive, according to a study conducted by Roy Morgan between 2018 and 2019, young Aussies, Gen Z and millennials amongst them, are a lot more likely to spot outdoor advertising than the average Australian.
Penline Stationery’s impressively strong tape advertising provides a real-life example of how the product works. It’s a simple ad with a clear message for viewers on the move. Source: Bored Panda
How to Make an Effective Billboard
Here are a few rules to follow when it comes to creating effective billboard advertising!
- Get your story right
Most people will only see your billboard for a few seconds at a time. What can you do to grab their attention? Take a funny, witty or otherwise engaging key message and give it meaning by wrapping it in a visually rich medium.
- Use minimal text
A single, short sentence, a fun play of words are absolutely enough. Don’t stuff your billboard with unnecessary information. Keep it simple but memorable – you know how bad people are at remembering anything. Seven words are more than enough to make your message stick. Oh, and don’t forget to add your logo.
- Make it BIG (and BOLD)
Whatever you decide to put on your billboard, it should be readable from a distance away. This will give your audience time to take it in and get your point across succinctly.
- Consider your audience
When deciding what content to put on the billboard think about your audience. Who will be driving past this area? Does this speak to them and grab, specifically, their attention?
- Check the billboard location
To make it extra personal and local to your audience incorporate the location of the billboard. Let’s say you’re selling sunscreen. Wouldn’t it be wise to advertise all along the way to the beach, so holiday-makers will remember you when it’s time to stock up on sun protection at their destination?
Panasonic’s unusual approach to advertising nose hair trimmers used the billboard environment to create an unusually hairy effect.
If you need help planning and designing billboard advertising that compliments your marketing efforts, the design and copywriting wizards at Anchor Digital can get your message across in 10 seconds and under. Don’t waste your time and money with subpar performing advertising campaigns. Get in touch with us today to make the most of your ad spend!