What are your thoughts on digital billboard advertising? As kids, we’ve all grown to watch catchy billboards on high roads, streets’ sidelines or from terraces. Billboards resemble a glimpse of a lively city environment. They’ve been used to promote for products, services or spread awareness on various causes for decades.
With the emergence of technology, billboards have evolved from standard, old printed posters to illuminating digital or LED screens with interchangeable ads every couple of seconds. They are still being used to send out public awareness messages, promote timely offers, new products, and services.
Moreover, digital billboard advertising has got an impressive ability to achieve high exposure and interactivity rates. It’s the perfect medium to showcase concise messages and urge drivers and pedestrians to respond to quick and easy calls-to-action.
Just as everything else in digital marketing, LED billboard campaigns to require a set of elements to ensure its success. Everything from the right location to conducting the necessary researches on demographics, preferences, and best terms to reach out to the target audiences, are due.
In this comprehensive blog, we will share why digital billboard advertising is such a big hit. Also, why big conglomerates and corporations are haunting the prime locations for billboards all around the world. We will dig deep into the pros and cons of billboard advertising.
What are the best ways to cultivate a successful strategy with them? And, finally, what to look for and what to avoid when trying to purchase them.
What Is Digital Billboard Advertising?
The standard definition of digital billboard advertising is digital images displayed on a changing, computerised board to promote a specific brand, product, or service. Digital billboards are designed to exchange images every couple of seconds. While these billboards are primarily used in advertising, they can also be used for public services purposes.
According to OAAA, “Digital billboards generate high recall for ads and positive consumer attitudes,[as retrieved from a] new study conducted by Nielsen. Three out of four or 75 percent of respondents recalled seeing a digital billboard in the past month and 60 percent noticed one in the past week, according to Nielsen’s survey of those who traveled roadways with digital billboards.”
There are four main types of regular, digital or LED billboards. The standard kind, the digital, the trivision and the wallscape as illustrated by Dakco.
- Standard Billboards
Remember the form of billboards we’ve all been impressed by as kids? It still works out great for some businesses and in some prime locations. Whether the ad was printed or hand printed, standard looking billboards remain an eye-catcher and a classic outdoor advertising channel for companies around the world.
- Digital Billboards
Digital or LED billboards have revolutionised the outdoor advertising industry by providing a hassle-free, cost-efficient and more attractive finished product than traditional billboards.
“The marketing campaign can be launched instantaneously without any delay. Its hassle free because waiting time is evaded. All the time involved in taking down the billboard and pasting the new ads is saved. Advertisers get the opportunity to run their ads in a specified time slot instead of 24 hours. This is a cost-cutting strategy for businesses tight on finances.”
- Trivision Billboards
Trivision or three-message sign is a set of framed triangular prisms rotating on a 120-degree angle. This type of billboards provides great flexibility and space for showcasing several different ads, or one ad with different messages, at the same time.
Wallscape is another synonym for a mighty billboard. They are very gigantic, considered by far the largest billboard option for advertisers. A wallscape size is mostly around 700 square feet.
So, What Are the Pros and Cons of Digital Billboard Advertising?
Before getting into why digital billboards are a good asset or a so-so idea for advertising, one should bear in mind how the business can benefit from the potential advantages or opportunities and also understand how to manage and deal with the downsides.
The following list of perks from Air Outdoor will help:
Digital billboards are often built in prime locations.
Advertisers place digital billboards in heavily exposed locations such as famous squares, bridges, and high roads. Specialists predict that the demand on these billboards will tend to increase by time.
While digital billboard advertising is not exactly the best method to get a good return on investment (ROI), yet, it effectively increases brand awareness.
According to Target Marketing Mag: “The arrival of social media and its culture of artfully curated vanity has created a wealth of opportunities for billboards as brands search for new ways to bring outdoor advertising and digital together.
Sure, many of us are permanently face down looking at the screens of our smartphones, to think about looking up at a soulless billboard that contains a stock photo image and slogan. But, this is why marketers need to get more creative.”
2. Billboards are better in achieving chronological targeting.
Digital billboards capture attention around the world. However, a lot of advertisers do not utilise their time on the screen properly. Since digital billboards display up to five or six different ads throughout the day. Suppliers understand this and allow advertisers to select the best timing for them.
One can select the preferable time to display his message. For instance, if the ad is a limited time offer, the shop or brand can research on the best times to display their message.
Also, as illustrated by Air Outdoor, if the advertiser is a bar and the offer is a happy hour, it makes more sense to focus on targeting passersby at the end of the day. As they are better prospect consumers.
3. It provides reduced production costs and real-time artwork changes
From a technical stance, digital billboard advertising spares companies or businesses from production costs; papers, materials, etc. besides, they are more attractive and eye-catching than traditional billboards.
One of the main perks of digital billboards is how they comprise a flexible channel for advertising that can serve multiple clients at a time. Moreover, they also enable them to make real-time adjustments, insert additions, or shuffle between different artworks.
4. The ability to promote several messages as part of a larger campaign
Digital billboard advertising can really highlight large-scale campaigns as it allows advertisers to spread multiple messages, choose between best slots, demographics, in order to achieve optimal results. This further enhances any campaign’s flexibility and specific targeting of consumers.
Seconding Data Projections: “The use of LED billboards is a multifaceted marketing tactic that will enable a business to compete in a rapidly and aggressively changing digital world. A reputable A/V firm can help design and implement LED boards as part of an overall advertising strategy. When a company’s rivals are using the latest technology, the smart move is to adopt a plan that will allow healthy competition.
If the competitors are not using state-of-the-art technology, then it is wise to get a leg up on them. Either way, sales are sure to increase, and the message will be spread and received via modern advertising methods.”
5. Being part of a hip, fast-paced environment
Digital billboard advertising guarantees a shorter lead time. As worshippers of timings and how effective it can be on campaigns, advertisers utilise billboards to increase brands image and engagement levels. Digital billboards waste no time. Once an ad is finished, it can be published in a matter of hours.
This environment, as explained, is extremely fast-paced and reliant on short and impactful campaigns. Therefore, constituting an easier, more cost-efficient way for advertising.
“Outdoor advertising is completely tangible, you can see it, touch it, take photos of it and share it online. An increasing number of artists and brands are turning their back on traditional ads and creating a destination and an experience.
There is no one size fits all approach, but against the odds, physical ads coupled with digital media are proving to be the perfect partnership,” via Target Marketing Mag.
The cons of digital billboard advertising
As much as it would be nice to have an all-positive advertising window, it’s nearly impossible to achieve. There are several downsides for digital billboards that some brand and businesses cannot just pass by.
Cost depending on location
Digital billboard advertising can sometimes far exceed the company’s outdoor marketing budgets. Why? Simply put, the location and timing of the ad fully dictate its pricing. If we put the high demand, too, in play then prices could hike even more.
This disadvantages often forces small to medium enterprises and start-ups to compromise and use different locations, therefore, downplaying their results and exposure rates.
2. Message transfer and receipt for consumers
While flexibility is highly needed when it comes to digital billboard advertising, it can sometimes have a negative impact. For instance, if a campaign has various messages that shuffle as the day goes by, day-time drivers or passersby will only get to see the morning messages, same goes for night-time drivers.
3. Less Exposure and Exclusivity
Because digital billboards feature up to six different ads, this means less concentration or exclusivity to one ad and more messages to take on by consumers.
This potential lack of exposure could mean that potential customers could miss out some messages and thus, dropping the overall success of the marketing campaign and decreasing consumer retention big time.
Moreover, there is the issue of competing with how attractive the other, let’s assume five adverts, also playing on the same digital billboard. Even if the other ads target different segments or are showcasing irrelevant products or services, they might look more visually appealing to consumers.
4. Distractions on the Road
Outdoor advertising billboards have an effect on driver’s focus on the road: “They affect detect changes in road scenes, especially when the roadway background is more cluttered (Advertising Billboards Impair Change Detection in Road Scenes).
In general, they affect lateral control and mental workload (Conflicts of Interest), and change drivers’ pattern of visual attention, increasing the amount of time needed for drivers to respond to road signs and increasing driving errors (Effects of Advertising Billboards during Simulated Driving).”
However, advertisers can put a stop to these hazards. According to the same source: Preventing distraction by digital billboards requires the following:
- Controlling lighting at nighttime.
- Lengthening message duration time.
- Simplifying message information and prohibiting message sequencing (Digital Billboards, Distracted Drivers).
- Plus, other topics such as congruent visual information, legibility, message design for variable message signs and luminance criteria for digital billboards.
5. Not Environmentally Friendly
According to On Sign, “Second, digital billboards are guilty of being extreme energy wasters because they work around the clock, day and night. For the moment, using so much energy will certainly increase the cost of maintaining as well as buying advertising space on a digital billboard. As we progress to the future, this matter will likely be less troublesome as methods such as solar power collection are becoming more frequent.”
Who Should Be Using Digital Billboard Advertising?
If a company or brand is looking to cultivate its relationship with potential consumers, increase brand awareness and retention, spread a certain message, raise awareness on a case, or promote a limited time offer, then digital billboards are their solution to achieve the best results possible.
Everybody from start-ups, small-to-medium enterprises or big corporations.
Digital billboards cost considerably less money than other traditional billboard options. Therefore, they constitute a great marketing alternative for small companies and start-ups. One reason why digital billboards are not going anywhere soon is efficiency.
Advertisers can plan a one or two-week campaign and still pay relatively less than what it will cost to post a traditional billboard campaign for half of the time period.
Companies active in branding and messaging
Digital billboard advertising is a very dynamic medium. Regardless of the company or brand size, the sender has to be active and communicative with its audience. Constantly promoting new messages and cultivating its brand image. Using digital billboards are a great way to facilitate that goal.
Seconding The Balance Career, “Get creative with your billboard ideas. A flat billboard is standard, but it doesn’t have to be the norm. You can go 3D, have moving parts, have people interacting with it and even have your billboard animate.
There is no reason that it just has to be a large, simple print ad. This is your opportunity to do something eye-catching and memorable, so go for it. The upside to this is it can create additional press, for free.”
So, Are Digital Billboards Effective?
Studies claim that more than half of the viewers notice and engage with the billboards. These results state that digital billboards are highly memorable and effective in delivering brand messages. As Nielsen shared, among the top performing brand categories is entertainment, gaming, fast food, and quick-service restaurants, recreation and TV sporting events.
According to OAAA President & CEO Nancy Fletcher: “Consumers are paying attention to the information presented to them and acting on it, whether they are drawn to a location featured on an ad, discussing the ad with friends and family, or attending an advertised event.”
Digital billboards speak the minds of brands and resonate with the audience. That’s why they always generate positive attitude and feedback from consumers. This form of advertising comprises the best of online ads and the mighty exposure of outdoor billboards; it’s interactive, clever, cool, and up-to-date.
As retrieved from Commexis, in the following in-car study, over one-third of the participants said they look at every billboard they pass.
“When analyzing the information consumers glean from billboards, the study found 58 percent learned about an event they wanted to attend, 58 percent learned about a restaurant they visited later, 56 percent 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,” (Arbitron National In-Car Study).
Important Elements in Digital Billboard Advertising
Like any other platform for advertising or form of marketing, digital billboards require a set of elements to operate efficiently and provide the best results possible As shared by Commexis, the following key points determine the success of a billboard campaign or single ad:
Selecting the right location is a deal maker or breaker. To choose the optimal space for an ad, any company must mind their target market, demographics, all while keeping an eye on nearby competitive ads.
According to Broad Sign, viewability and visibility are crucial components of choosing a location, questions like: “Where is the screen most useful for the intended audience? Is the location within a viewer’s natural eyesight – not too high or too low? Will lighting, both natural and artificial, affect the viewability of the screen? Is the screen be located near anything else in the area – entrances, emergency exits, product shelves, etc?” Should be answered.
2. The Message
Because digital billboards are interchangable, and are only displayed for a fraction of a minute at a time, messages have to be highly concentrated, concise, catchy, and memorable. Always keep in mind that passersby only get a few seconds to read this ad; so keep it short and exciting.
3. The Action
Successful marketing campaigns are the ones with direct calls-to-action. Digital billboard advertising is no exception to that rule. Each ad posted should have a direct action for consumers to perform. Specialists argue that the most fitting messages for digital billboards are brand awareness.
Calls-to-action should be easy to understand and easy to react with. As advised by Sixteen Nine, “If the screen is advertising a sale on a specific item, tell them where in the store the item is located. If the action is connecting on Instagram, give the exact username. If there’s a contest, either list the steps required to enter, or give a general idea and display a link where people can find further details.”
How to Buy Billboard Ads?
In order to get the best deals, small to medium companies and start-ups are advised to consult an ad agency. Depending on the location and timing of the ad, prices can vary heavily. Unlike traditional billboards, it’s unlikely that advertisers are asked to purchase a certain number of spots.
As priorly mentioned, the key attribute of any billboard campaign’s success is the location. It’s one of the main determinants of the value of the billboard versus its cost.
When searching for the perfect location for your ad. Note the following factors:
- Visibility: The positioning of the ad. Is it facing traffic? How high is the billboard placed? Is it blocked by a building or another billboard?
- Demographics: Is the ad visible to those who would be interested? Is it strategically placed near a shopping mall or a community hub?
- Proximity to business: if the business is offering a product or a service for locals, it would only make sense if the billboard is placed close to one of the business’s branches, offices, etc.
Last Words on Digital Billboard Advertising
As illustrated throughout this blog, digital billboards are here to stay. Their impact and effectiveness speak volumes. Even with targeted platforms such as online ads, social media channels; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, digital billboard advertising remain one of the strongest mediums there are.
Unfortunately, many industry experts argue that billboard advertising has very serious disadvantages that could potentially have major drawbacks. Others disagree and claim that these cons only downplay the advertising space to specific business types and niches.
With careful consideration, small to medium businesses as well as rising start-ups are considering this medium to advertise for their products and services. While governmental institutions never stop relying on billboards to increase reach for their awareness messages.
Basically, if all elements of good digital billboard advertising fall into place; location, message, action, pricing, and target audience. Plus, systems need a strict regulation to combat potential hazards. So that any business or institution could maximize its benefit from billboard advertising.
Lastly, advertisers are still conducting research on which is the most appropriate take on this. If you, like most of us, have thought that billboard days are over. Think again.