Billboard Advertising Isn't Dead - It's Very Much Alive


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, December 6, 2021

Billboard ads have the power to cut through the digital noise and deliver strong ROI to a captive audience.

Article 4 Minutes
Billboard Advertising Isn't Dead - It's Very Much Alive

It’s a common misconception that billboard advertising is outdated, but if you look around you’ll discover it’s still a widely used form of out-of-home (OOH) media. So why are brands still using billboard ads? It’s because traditional marketing has the power to break through the noise of more modern techniques in the digital age, as long as it’s part of an innovative and eye-catching strategy.

Billboard advertising is effective and delivers strong ROI

While the cost of billboard advertising can differ wildly depending on a number of factors, it offers a significant ROI. You don’t always need to spend $22,000 on a billboard in Times Square when $250 on the side of the right highway for the right product could also be effective. Consider the location, footfall or traffic and the demographic of your audience when deciding the best places to install a billboard for your business.

One of the demographics that marketers may feel is immune to billboard ads is millennials, but a survey from Nielsen found the exact opposite. In fact, 60% of respondents said they “completely or somewhat” trust billboards. When you compare this to 53% for online video ads, 51% for social media ads and 48% for mobile ads, it shows traditional media still has the edge.

Key benefits of billboard advertising

Despite the proliferation of marketing techniques available in the digital landscape, real-world billboard ads retain the same appeal they always have. The key benefits are:

1. Tapping into a captive audience

In a world where people are constantly on the move, travel presents captive audiences for billboards, whether it’s when sitting in a traffic jam or using public transport. These seemingly idle moments are perfect for brand awareness or demonstrating how your product can be the solution to a specific problem.

2. There’s no off switch

Modern audiences have become so accustomed to being interrupted by ads in the digital space that there are a lot of strategies commonly used to avoid them. However, there’s no off switch for a billboard, no way to hide it. Well-designed examples draw the eye in time and time again, helping to create a memorable message.

3. On-the-spot advertising

Placement is a vital component of billboard advertising, but as well as ensuring it’s erected in a site with a lot of footfall or traffic, it can be strategic to put the ad in close proximity to the product or service itself. Shops, restaurants and other attractions can use billboards to highlight their in-real-life presence and drive immediate sales.

4. Repetition and exposure

Billboards are displayed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, giving whatever message you’re trying to get across a high level of exposure. They become part of the landscape and repeated viewing by your audience helps to boost the memorability of your brand.

5. Big, bold and creative

What works on a billboard is the type of creative that doesn’t work on other platforms and this gives a clear mandate to let your designers go big and bold. Successful billboards aren’t about how much budget has been spent on a campaign, but the clever design that makes it instantly recognisable and memorable.

How to create an effective and eye-catching billboard

Like all marketing efforts, the success of a campaign lies in its creativity as much as the platform where it’s displayed. B2C marketers must keep a number of principles in mind when developing effective and eye-catching billboards:

  • Turn a real problem for your target audience into a positive, just as Dove did with its Real Beauty campaign. It addressed women’s lack of confidence in themselves as a result of perceived beauty standards.
  • Be truthful, take what could be perceived as a flaw in your product and highlighting it as a unique selling point. Volkswagen tapped into this technique during a period when big cars were in demand, demonstrating that its smaller cars were different.
  • Stay simple, like Nike has done with its clear three-word tagline and instantly recognizable logo. Easily repeatable, this approach ties all its billboard ads together.
  • Use colors, shapes and identifying features to create an iconic and visual representation of your brand. Absolut vodka achieved this by picking out the form of its bottle in seemingly mundane objects in a billboard campaign that ran for more than 25 years.

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