Do Billboard Ads Work? In A Nutshell, Yes..

Do Billboard Ads Work? In A Nutshell, Yes..

While online marketing tends to garner the most attention among businesses today, it’s important to avoid neglecting traditional advertising methods. One of the most overlooked forms of advertising that actually works is billboard advertising.

Have you ever driven by a billboard and wondered if these ads are really effective and produce a good return on investment? Here’s what you should know about investing in billboard marketing and maximizing your marketing budget.Are Billboard Ads Effective?
It’s easy to overlook marketing opportunities like billboards that are largely taken for granted today. Still, research has found that billboard ads remain an effective form of outdoor advertising.

According to the most recent Arbitron National In-Car Study, the average American spends over 18 hours per week driving and 71% of consumers report often looking at messages on billboards. Over one-third of participants report looking at every outdoor ad they pass.

When analyzing the information consumers glean from billboards, the study found 58% learned about an event they wanted to attend, 58% learned about a restaurant they visited later, 56% talked to friends about something funny they saw on a billboard, and more than one-quarter noted a website address or phone number on a billboard.

The study concluded that consumers make important shopping decisions in their car from billboards. More than 70% of people often shop on their way home from work while 68% frequently make shopping decisions while they drive. Surprisingly, one-quarter reported being motivated to visit a particular store on that day because of an outdoor billboard ad and one-third visited a store later that week after seeing a billboard.

Billboard advertising offers specific strategies that other channels cannot provide and, with the right strategy, may provide a greater return on investment than other channels like paid online ads and radio ads. The effectiveness of a billboard marketing strategy depends on three key factors:

  • Location. As with any real estate, location is king. Choosing the right location for your billboard ads requires defining your target market, identifying your key demographics, and focusing on regions with the highest saturation of your target demographics.
  • Message. Billboards work best with highly visible and short messages. Remember: billboard ads target drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians so you have just a few seconds to get your message across. You want your ad to get noticed, but you don’t want the ad to be distracting.
  • Conversion. Like any other marketing campaign, your billboard should have a call to action. You may experiment with unique landing page URLs for different locations as long as the URL is short and easy to remember. Keep in mind that billboards are best at raising brand awareness and supporting your marketing campaign. You shouldn’t rely on billboards to drive traffic to a website or make the phone ring.

How to Buy Billboard Ads
While there are many ways to buy billboard advertising space, the most cost effective solution is usually renting through an ad agency. Billboard rental cost varies a great deal depending on the location. If you choose traditional print billboards, you may be required to buy a minimum number of spots as well. The biggest factors that affect cost are the number of impressions (or billboard views) and the demographics of the billboard audience. These factors are combined to make Out-of-Home (OOH) billboard ratings, or a standard measurement set you can use to compare billboards.

The 4-week cost for a billboard may range from $1,500 to $30,000 for a large bulletin (or up to $200,000 for areas like New York City), $750 to $2,000 for a medium billboard, or $3,500 to $25,000 per location for a digital billboard. In a Midwestern city like Milwaukee, you may pay $3,000 to $4,000 per location for a 4-week ad or anywhere from $8,500 to $15,000 in San Diego.

The key to maximizing your return on investment is choosing your billboard location carefully. There are many options such as traditional billboards along freeways, ads near shopping centers, and ads near recreation, parks, airports, and buses. Choosing the ideal location for a billboard can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for:

  • Visibility. Is the billboard front-facing toward traffic? Is it placed at the proper readable height? Billboards with limited visibility will dramatically reduce the impact of your marketing money.
  • Demographics. If you are going to advertise a restaurant, it would make sense to rent billboard space at a nearby shopping center. If you want to advertise for young adult fashion, a billboard near a college will be more effective than an ad in a suburb with a high population of empty nesters.
  • Proximity to your business. If your business relies on local customers, ads should be placed relatively close to your business.

When choosing and buying billboard space, be very specific about your target audience and compare proposals based on targeted reach and frequency and cost per thousand (CPM) to reach your target audience. You may want to concentrate ads on a few billboards where you can afford a consistent presence to seem like a major local advertiser.

Can You Rely on Billboards Alone?
Consider this: you have something valuable to offer consumers, but they don’t know about it. While you can dominate search engine results, it doesn’t help if no one is searching for the relevant terms. This is where outbound marketing pays off. Unlike inbound marketing, in which customers find you, outbound marketing involves advertising to consumers who are unfamiliar with your business.

Outbound marketing is designed to start a conversation about a service or product and spread the word about your business. Inbound marketing — which is largely internet-based — has a better return on investment and is easier to track, the fact remains that until people know and trust your business, there will be very little inbound marketing. Outbound marketing techniques can be compared to an introduction whereas inbound marketing is the ongoing development of the relationship with consumers.

While outbound marketing techniques like billboards, television ads, and radio ads play an important role in establishing your business in a community and informing customers of new products or services, you can’t rely on billboard ads alone. For most businesses, a combination of inbound and outbound marketing strategies work best to see the greatest return on your marketing budget, improved brand recognition, and greater sales.

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