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What do we mean when we talk about digital outdoor advertising? Digital out of home (DOOH) includes two main forms of advertising, digital place-based networks and digital signage. It encompasses everything from electronic billboards to digital boards on the side of buses to kiosks at the mall.

Digital out of home ads all have two things in common. They appear on digital screens, and their creative can be swapped out remotely, from a server. This makes it very easy to move different advertisers in and out of the space, something traditional out of home cannot do.

Digital out of home ads now account for more than a quarter of all spending in the United States, and their distribution is growing rapidly. In fact, PwC predicts that overall OOH growth will be entirely fueled by digital over the next three years.

Are you interested in digital advertising for your products, or do you just want to understand more about this emerging medium? We’ve put together this guide to everything you need to know about digital OOH ads to answer questions we hear from many clients.

What Is Digital Billboard Advertising?

Digital billboards are essentially gigantic TVs sitting on the side of the road that display digital ads, which rotate every few seconds. These boards may be located alongside the highway or within city limits.

Why Use Digital Billboards?

They offer advantages traditional billboards do not, such as:

  • Flexibility: You can upload your creative to the vendor in seconds vs. making a vinyl display, which can take a month or longer
  • Timeliness: Run anything from a live countdown to baseball’s opening day to a social media feed directly to a billboard
  • Effectiveness: Return on investment for digital boards is high—more than half of people report seeing a DOOH billboard within the past month, and many have taken action from it, such as going to a brand’s website or checking out its social media feed

Are Digital Billboards Safe?

Yes. There’s been quite a bit of debate on that topic over the years, and years ago some municipalities even banned digital boards because they worried about distracting drivers. But studies have shown definitively that digital billboards are safe and do not distract drivers from the road any more than traditional boards.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Digital Billboard?

The cost of a digital billboard depends on many of the same factors as a traditional billboard, including:

  • The city where you buy the billboard—you will pay way more in Times Square, for instance, than in San Antonio, Texas
  • The location within the city—a digital billboard in the Los Angeles area may vary greatly, such as one on Sunset Boulevard costing more than one on the 405 in Torrance
  • The length of the buy, such as one week, two weeks, etc.

What Is the General Price Range Of Digital Advertising?

Keeping in mind the many variables in billboard pricing, you can expect to pay a very rough average of $1,000 per week for an ad on a digital billboard. This will be higher in New York and Los Angeles and lower in other areas. Traditional billboards in those areas might cost double or triple that, or even more, per week.

How Much Does Digital Cost Compared to Traditional Billboards?

Digital billboards typically cost less than traditional billboards, for two main reasons:

  1. You share your space with other advertisers, who also rotate onto the board over the course of a minute, so you don’t have a 100 percent share of the voice on the board as you do on traditional ones, where you’re the only ad appearing.
  2. Digital billboards typically sell for shorter durations than the industry-standard four weeks for traditional billboards.

How Many Outdoor Digital Billboards Are There?

There are 8,100 digital billboards in the United States, according to recent estimates. The number has slowly increased over the past two decades and gotten faster in over the past few years. Since 2016, digital billboard deployment has grown by more than 26 percent.

What Are Digital Billboards Made Of?

The majority of digital billboards are made from steel, just like traditional ones. At the top, they have LED displays that connect to a server maintained by the vendor.

How Do Electronic Billboards Work?

Digital billboard creative is entirely virtual. The agency works with the client to come up with a vision for the creative, executes it in a digital format, and sends the creative to the vendor, who uploads it to a server. The digital billboard shows the creative almost instantaneously.

Traditional billboards require the production of creative on vinyl, which is another reason they are more expensive. There aren’t many, if any, supplies to purchase for digital billboards.

What Types of DOOH Are There?

The most common form of digital out of home is billboards, of course. But there are many other kinds available, including digital screens located at:

  • Bus shelters
  • Shopping malls
  • Grocery stores
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Gas stations
  • Bars and restaurants

You can also find digital boards inside subway cars and on the sides of buses. They can be just about anywhere.

How Do You Buy Electronic Billboards and How Is It Different From Traditional?

The process for buying electronic billboards is roughly the same as traditional. An agency usually negotiates the price and the length of the buy with the vendor. The same names dominate digital billboard vendors as traditional billboard vendors, such as Clear Channel Outdoor and Lamar.

Purchasing is based on share of voice, which depends on the budget you have to play with. The industry standard is about 10 to 20 percent, but you could go up to 30 percent depending on how long you want the billboard to run.

What Are The Biggest Digital Out of Home Advertising Trends?

Three digital OOH trends that will shape the next few years in the industry include:

  1. Using big data to buy, plan and execute digital billboard campaigns
  2. Rising deployment of beacons to interact with passersby and digital signs
  3. Employing virtual reality, artificial intelligence and other new tech to make ads more personalized

Do you still have questions about DOOH? Get in touch with Dash Two to get the answers.

4 Replies Added

  1. I agree digital billboards are safer today. Unlike in trampoline billboards, it can wash out of strong winds and can cause damage to anyone.

  2. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful article. Even in this period of digitization of all kinds of ad platforms, outdoor digital advertisements has a greater significance in boosting a brand or a business.

  3. Thank you for the comprehensive overview of digital outdoor advertising, including digital billboards. ‘s fascinating to see how digital out of home (DOOH) ads are growing in popularity, and how they offer unique advantages over traditional out of home advertising.

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