Billboards are only useful if drivers can read them. Limit the copy to no more than three elements, six words, clean type, and a simple, easy-to-understand message. If you can’t do that, don’t waste your money.
The grand-daddy of outdoor advertising are the billboards. Billboards make impact, no doubt. It can be a very creative medium.
The only issue in question is if whether you can buy your billboards so that you get a good return. Billboards can be expensive. If you have a location that has high visibility, a billboard can help direct traffic to you.
But to bring in paying customers, is your money better spent elsewhere?
The only way to know for sure is trying and tracking.
Some times the price of the boards is negotiable and sometimes they’re not. Plus you have to consider the cost of production as well. Currently the standard is to produce your message on vinyl, which could cost you as much as a month or more of the board itself.
Location is important
Location is important as well. Usually the billboard companies price their boards on what they call a Gross Rating Point or GRP Showing. This term has no relation to the GRPs used in broadcast advertising. One rating point equals 1% of the market’s population. What you want to find out is the Annual ADT (Annual Average Daily Traffic.) This is the total number of vehicles passing the location in 24 hours based on counts taken over an entire year. Like in broadcast, you can figure out your CPM (cost per thousand) based on the relationship of the ADT to the price.
Also, consider doing a pre-ride. Drive by each location you’re considering to evaluate the approach. This is the distance measured along the line of travel from the point where the billboard first becomes fully visible to the point where the copy is no longer readable. See if there are any obstructions that may cut down on the visibility of your board.
If it’s winter, anticipate leaves on a nearby tree in spring. If its summer, anticipate earlier sun down on the drive home from work.
Are those boards lighted, and if so, at what time are the lights set to come on? Drive the locations during rush hour in each direction. See how much time people are spending at that location.
Here are a few important questions to consider:
- Are they driving into the sun and therefore not seeing your board?
- Is traffic flow unencumbered so there is less time looking billboards?
- What else is at that location that is competing for the driver’s attention?
It could be other boards, signage, displays, scenery, etc. As long as you’re going to make a sizable investment, it’s best to know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
If you can’t get the billboard company to come down on the price, see if they have some not-so-desirable locations that they’re having trouble selling (usually in non election years). To create additional exposure, ask for some bonus boards, but you want them after your main campaign is running so you can use the existing vinyl instead of paying for extra.
Post Billboard Strategies
What do they do with the vinyl after the campaign is over? It could make a very interesting backdrop for a trade show booth, or perhaps it could be installed on the side of your building, if permitted.
More elaborate versions of billboards are wallscapes and spectaculars. Wallscapes are advertisements painted directly on building walls. Some walls can accommodate vinyl facings that are secured in a frame. Both have large-scale exposure and high visibility to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. They are generally geared for high density areas like downtowns.
Spectaculars are usually larger than 14′ x 48′ and positioned at prime locations in a market. Both require custom designing and are intended for long-term exposure. Obviously they are very costly so you have to evaluate very carefully what you’re objectives are in choosing this type of outdoor medium.
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