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How to get the most out of your billboard buy.

A successful billboard campaign often involves buying multiple billboards. Here are four tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your billboard campaign.

  • Buy multiple boards. Billboards have a fixed location. People move around. The most effective billboard campaigns consist multiple billboards targeted at consumers where they live and travel. This means blanketing key arterials into and out of a city. I can think of one client who buys billboards in every interstate into and leaving major US cities. Retailers often ask for billboards within 2 miles of new store locations. One billboard on one street may work well for a small town but won’t get the message out in a big city.

Most billboard companies have a variety of billboards around town.
Here is one company’s inventory in Indianapolis.


  • Buy short-term for events and long-term for awareness. Billboards are sold on 4 week periods. A short term buy (e.g. 4, 8 or 12 weeks) is good for concerts, movies, conventions, sales and product rollouts. Short term buys are more likely with digital billboards because there are no production costs to change the message. A long term buy (6 months or a year) is better to promote location based advertising (McDonalds next left), professional services and brand awareness. Cracker Barrel, for example makes long-term buys of billboards which are near the nearest exit to a store. Same with McDonalds.


  • Know what you’re buying. This is especially important if you are buy multiple boards. There are lots of bad boards with poor visibility which get lumped into multiple board campaigns. Ask your buying agency to do some diligence here or use in independent verification service to verify that the vinyl had been posted and is viewable.

Can you spot the billboard?


  • Freshen the message. Consumers may tune out your board if they see the same message again and again and again as they drive by. Also vinyl can fade, especially in southern climates with lots of sun.  It’s a good idea to change your ad every 12 weeks if you have a long term contract.  The exception to this is a board for a professional service (legal, lawn service, pest control, banking).  A consistent message on a professional service board is good because you’re trying to reach the portion of the audience which might be interested in your service on that particular day.  Not everyone will need a realtor every day but it pays to have a consistent message so people who need a realtor will think to call you after passing one of your boards.  You need to keep in mind, however, that it will cost money to change your message.  Most billboard companies will ask you to pay for vinyl and maybe install costs.  This can work out to a fee of $300-500 every time you change copy.

Brand campaign for Rolex Watch.
Jewelers often change designs every 3 months.


Adjust your ad to the time of day or time of week or weather if you are using a digital billboard. Posterscope recently asked 100,000 people what messages they’d like to see on a digital sign.  60-80% of people wanted to see messages relevant to location, day of the week, weather, time of day, season and sporting event.  We’ll talk about that this means in our next post.

3 Replies Added

  1. Thank you for the tips. I am now in the process of planning a billboard campaign for my company. We are a not-for-profit organization so we have to be really smart with our budget. Our main objective is to spread awareness but we’ll go with a short-term campaign on the month dedicated to our cause.

  2. I’ve never thought that it makes such a difference whether you change your ads during a long-term campaign or not. I guess you’re right about sticking to the same ad if you’re advertising a professional service. After all, you want to build a recognizable brand. Changing your ads every month or so won’t help your potential clients remember you.

  3. That’s a lot of helpful information there. I never gave it a lot of thought but the placement of the advertisement really is important. I wouldn’t want to spend thousands of dollars for a billboard just to have it hidden in the trees just like on that picture. The ad has to stand out and attract attention.

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