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Yes, billboards work. They work extremely well, delivering a fantastic return on investment and viewer engagement. Billboards can boost branding or drive calls to action. Billboards are multifunctional, drawing the attention of and exciting passersby.

OK, obviously, we are an agency specializing in outdoor advertising. What do you expect us to say to such a question? But for the record, we’ll repeat it, and then we’ll prove it: Yes, billboards actually work. They’re the most efficient and effective way to spend your media dollars because they take advantage of the only medium no one can avoid—real outdoor life.

But we understand why you might want some evidence to support our claims. Here are nine reasons why billboards actually work, backed up by data, our own experience with our clients, and a couple anecdotes.

1. People Pay Attention to Billboards

They see them and they remember them, according to research. In fact, multiple studies have confirmed that billboards get seen. Data cited by the Out of Home Advertising Association of America found:

  •       71% of travelers observe messages on billboards as they pass them.
  •       37% look at billboards every time they pass one.

These people report remembering things like sales, events and products advertised on billboards. More than half have gone somewhere like a restaurant after learning about it from a billboard. And a quarter report visiting a store they saw on a billboard right away, while another third go later in the week.

So billboards work because they reach the right people.

New York Times Square Billboards

2. Billboards Are Cost-Effective

You save money when you opt for a billboard. Despite the success rate of advertising and growing popularity of the medium, it remains a relatively inexpensive buy. Solomon Partners, an investment bank that tracks media trends, finds that the CPM (cost of reaching 1,000 people) for billboards ranges from $2-$9. That’s lower than any other medium except for digital display—and in many cases, it’s a lot lower. CPMs for TV can go up to $45, while print reaches even higher ($54).

So billboards work because they’re cost-efficient.

3. Billboards Provide a High Return on Investment

Cost efficiency and return on investment go hand in hand. The OAAA found that billboards have a 497% return on investment, giving you quintuple the value of your dollar when you invest in the medium. To put this in perspective, research has shown that 80% of TV advertising campaigns have negative ROI. Talk about a massive difference.

So billboards work because advertisers see gains from buying billboards.

High Return on Investment in Billboards
High Return on Investment in Billboards

4. Creative for Billboards Is Absolutely Killing It Right Now

When you drive home from work, do you ever see a billboard that just makes you laugh? Whether it’s a clever play on words, an ingenious use of a prop dangling from the board or an image that evokes emotion, billboards are on a hot streak.

The combination of incredible talent within agencies and increasing focus from clients on what they want to achieve has led to boards that push the envelope and get results. We’ve been in the business for a long time, and we can say with confidence that billboard creative has never been better.

So billboards work because they’re fun to look at.

5. Billboards Gain a Second Life on Social Media

The past 15 years have given great billboards an additional dimension. Many of them live on virtually. These days, many billboards even include a call to action asking people to post them on social media. There, people across the country see a board that previously would have been limited to viewers from New York, Los Angeles or Miami. Now, messages spread nationwide with the click of a button. It means even more ROI.

So billboards work because they can go viral.

Feeling Fuzzy
Neil Frances Coachella Billboard

6. You Can’t Avoid Billboards

You can skip advertiesements on your DVR. You can choose streaming services that don’t have any ads. You can listen to commercial-free channels on Spotify, Pandora or Sirius XM. You can download a popup block online. But short of closing your eyes while you drive, which we don’t recommend, you can’t avoid billboards. They exist in the real world, and they never turn off.

So billboards work because they’re always on.

7. Ad Campaigns Can Get a Lift With Billboards

Of course, many brands don’t limit themselves to one advertising medium. They know that ad campaigns that use more formats see tremendous success. Advertising on billboards plus radio, TV, print or online can lead to:

  •       Increased reach and frequency
  •       Improved targeting
  •       Higher conversion rates

So billboards work because they do well in tandem with other media.

8. Billboards Work as Calls to Action

The dimensionality of billboards makes them attractive no matter what an advertiser’s goal. For instance, ad campaigns always have an aim. For advertisers hoping people will heed a call to action, billboards make an ideal medium. As we stated earlier, people act based on what they see, whether they head to a restaurant advertised on the side of a highway or go online to download an album they saw advertised on top of a city building. Billboards create behavior.

So billboards work because they provide demonstrable calls to action.

9. Billboards Work for Branding

But billboards’ power isn’t limited to just CTAs. Billboards also offer an excellent way to raise brand awareness. Branding is all about consistency and frequency. You need to put out the same message and get people to see it over and over again.

Billboards provide the perfect opportunity for both. Advertisers can purchase several billboards within a city to reinforce a single message. They can make the billboards play off each other with the same color, the same wording or the same imagery. Branding is all about memory. The more you see something, the more aware of it you become. Billboards can do this more subtly than TV or video, where repetitiveness can lead people to tune out. They can’t tune out of a billboard on the side of the road on their commute.

So billboards work because they make a brand known.

Find Out How Well Billboards Actually Work Firsthand

We’ve told you why billboards work. Now see it for yourself—get in touch with us to discuss a billboard campaign.


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