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As the end of 2018 nears, most brands are already well into planning for 2019. Of course, one question always on advertisers’ minds is how much is this going to cost me?

A lot of factors play into that answer when it comes to billboards, of course. Location, demand, the economy, time of year — all play significant roles in determining the cost of a billboard.

As you plan for the coming year, here are eight things you need to know about billboard pricing in 2019.

1. You Pay More for Bigger Cities

If you dream of touting your new product in NYC or the City of Angels, then you will pay the price. Billboards in New York City cost up to $20,000 per month, and you will find prime locations even more expensive, depending on demand. In Los Angeles, billboards cost up to $15,000 per month, but one on Sunset Boulevard can cost double that.

When you choose a medium-sized city, you will pay appreciably less, though you will not have the same reach. In Philadelphia or San Francisco, for instance, monthly rates max out around $12,000.

For those on really tight budgets, a billboard on a rural road might cost as little as $250. This could be worth it for you, depending on your campaign goals and your location.

2. Digital Billboards Cost More – But There’s More of Them

Pricing for digital billboards is often higher than static, though you may pay less for the creative. You also may only get the board for two weeks vs. four. It may be worth the premium. According to PJ Solomon, people recall messages on a digital billboard better than any other medium.

In the future as controversy around digital billboards dies down — research has proven they do not endanger drivers as people initially feared — and they become more ubiquitous, you may find better deals.

There are now 8,100 digital billboards in the United States, up from up from 6,700 just two years ago, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

3. Several Main Factors Affect Billboard Pricing

As you would expect, the more people who will see your ad, the more you will pay for it. These are three of the factors that play into setting that price:

  • Demographics: The age, gender, ethnicity, income level, etc., of the people who pass your billboard. The more upscale the audience, the more you will pay.
  • Circulation: Amount of traffic passing the billboard. This does not, however, guarantee all the people who pass it see the board.
  • Impressions: People who see the board, which is estimated by Geopath based on circulation, position of the board, size and visibility. For instance, if you buy a billboard with poor visibility, because it’s blocked by brush or far off the road, your impressions will be lower than the circulation.

4. You Pay for More Than Just the Billboard Location

When you buy a traditional billboard, you also have to pay for the price of constructing the creative for the billboard. Vinyl runs about 50 cents per square feet, so a standard 14-x48-foot billboard could cost up to $500 in materials.

Plus, you will also pay for the design of the creative. This could range up to $1,000 or more, depending on the designer you choose. Make sure to add this critical factor into your budget, because you do not want to skimp on the creative. Really great boards get a second life online, where people post them on social media, and they can also draw enough buzz to get covered in local media.

5. New Developments Can Spur Price Changes

Do you remember reading recently about Netflix’s surprising acquisition of billboards along the Sunset Strip? No, not just billboard space. Actual billboards. Those 18 or so boards are now out of commission for other advertisers as Netflix uses them exclusively to promote its own content. And that means the remaining billboards have suddenly become a hotter commodity.

This has given the billboard owners the leverage to raise prices. Advertisers still want that space. When market conditions change, pricing can go up or down, which is why it’s important for advertisers to stay abreast of developments in out of home in the coming year.

6. Billboards Remain the Most Efficient Traditional Media Buy

CPMs (cost per thousand) are used to show advertisers the average cost of reaching 1,000 people with a media buy. It’s a way for agencies and advertisers to see an apples-to-apples comparison across different media. For years, billboards have enjoyed among the lowest CPMs for traditional media, and that continues to stand as 2019 nears.

PJ Solomon tracks these numbers each month, and in September, billboard CPMs were lower than all traditional media and bettered online video as well. They start as low as a dollar, with the average right around $5. By comparison, newspaper CPMs range from $31 to $39.

7. Emerging Technology May Influence Pricing

Will we see VR/AR billboards in 2019? Who knows, but certainly it’s on the horizon at some point. This and other specialized technology will undoubtedly result in price fluctuations for the market, depending on what draws more demand. Many advertisers love being the first aboard the next big thing, and if that describes you, then you may pay more for billboards than you had in the past.

8. Times Square Will Still Have the Most Expensive Inventory

Here’s one thing we can guarantee won’t change for years to come: Times Square will remain the priciest of venues for billboard advertising. The vast majority of advertisers cannot afford this property. But just for fun, here’s a snapshot of how much Times Square advertising costs, in case you want to consider it:

  • Roughly $1 million to $4 million for a one-year buy-in
  • Up to $3 million per month for the biggest board available
  • 150 million impressions generated over 12 months

All this information should get you off to a good start planning for next year. Want more information on billboard pricing in 2019? Get in touch with DASH TWO for more insights and input.

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