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Who Is the Target Audience for Billboards?

In the simplest possible terms, everyone is the target audience for billboards. Everyone spends time outside. Everyone observes their surroundings. Everyone goes on social media and sees pictures of cool billboards posted there. 

However, while everyone is the target audience for billboards, you may have a narrower demographic in mind. You can target specific groups while also reaching other people. So while you connect with a huge audience when creating a billboard, it’s the people most apt to buy your product, go to your sale or engage with your brand who matter. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into how to target the right audience for your billboard. 

Who Sees Billboards? 

It depends, of course, on where the billboard is located. But you can generally count on billboards being seen by:

  • Drivers
  • Commuters on above-ground public transportation 
  • Ride share service passengers and drivers
  • Pedestrians

Many of these people pass the billboard daily on their way to work or home. Others may pass sporadically while going to an event or traveling to the store. Still others may only view the billboard once if they don’t live in the area. But all these people still make up the total billboard audience, regardless of how many times they see it. 

Ikea Wallscape

How to Target the Right Viewers of a Billboard

The key to successful billboard advertising is getting the right people to look at your display. That means thinking about who your product is geared toward and who is most likely to purchase it or engage with your messaging. 

For example, when promoting a country album by an older Gen X artist, you will target a very different audience than for an R&B album by a Gen Z singer. Finding the right place to connect with those fans is critical. You should ask about: 

  • Demographics of nearby neighborhoods: You want to find people who match the age, ethnicity and household income level of your artist’s biggest fans. That may mean targeting a white audience for the country star and a Black audience for the R&B singer, for instance. 
  • Demographics of employees of nearby businesses: Remember, we spend a third of our lives at work and about 27 minutes per day, on average, commuting to work. That means nearly half an hour of staring at what appears on the road ahead of us.
  • Average billboard viewership: The location of your billboard will determine how many people see it, and the number varies based on location. A good vendor will have traffic counts tracking a board’s exposure. 
  • Positioning of the billboard: When we say “everyone sees your billboard,” that only applies if it’s visible. If the board sits behind a tree or an apartment building was recently erected in front of it, then that will limit your potential audience. 
Samsung Z Fold5 Billboard

Messaging Also Plays a Role in Your Target Audience

If you know anything about advertising, then you know the medium helps determine the message, and billboards provide a fantastic canvas. You can deliver a slick sophisticated message, a funny folksy message or a straightforward simple message—all will come through loud and clear, and all influence who will connect with your board. 

How you present your messaging impacts who notices it. For example, an ad with Spanish words will connect with a Hispanic audience, while English-only passersby may completely ignore the billboard. By contrast, a billboard featuring a sports team may not get a second glance from a non-sports fan. Keep in mind as you hone your creative that a billboard is a conversation, and someone can opt out from the discussion if you don’t capture their attention in the right way.

Social Media Builds Target Audiences Well Beyond the Billboard Location 

In recent years, social media has become the second rail for outdoor advertising. Whereas a decade ago, a billboard’s reach was limited to people who drove past the ad, these days you can post a billboard across multiple social media sites and reach a national audience instead of just a local one. 

Every outdoor advertising campaign should utilize some type of social element. Again, the medium should reflect your target audience. You can’t go wrong by posting across all social channels, but you can also target according to your campaign

  • Instagram attracts a younger audience, and you can use features like Reels to share videos of your campaign. 
  • LinkedIn has more of a professional audience, and behind-the-scenes posts (about what went into the creative decisions, for instance) draw great engagement. 
  • Facebook skews older than IG and can be a very visual format. 

X (formerly known as Twitter) has become a mess—it’s lost users the past two years—but ads can still go viral there.

Who Should You Target With Your Billboard? 

Again, the answer depends a lot on what you’re advertising. But here are four frequently targeted groups who respond well to billboard advertising

  1. College students: This group has disposable income to spend on food and entertainment. They keep up with trends and consider themselves media savvy. They like staying informed about things, and they notice their surroundings. You can trust them to snap photos of things they like, such as a clever billboard, and share to social media. 
  2. Shoppers: Shopping demands engagement and awareness of what’s going on around you. Shoppers look out for new opportunities and bargains, so they pay attention to advertisements, including billboards. 
  3. Tourists: Tourists don’t know the area as well as residents, so they tend to observe what’s around them. They take pictures to record memories, and billboards may be in the background. 

Parents: Parents stay acutely attuned to their surroundings, and their children ask them questions about what they see. Billboards can be used as a distraction for kids, or kids may about what they see.

You Can Target Everyone With Billboards

The bottom line is, billboards are the only medium that everyone engages with. Not everyone watches TV, not everyone reads newspapers and magazines, and not everyone has a social media account. But everyone goes outside. That makes your potential total audience for billboards almost boundless. Are you ready to explore this type of outdoor advertising? Contact us today to learn more.


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