What is a billboard?
A billboard is a form of advertising on a large space, similar to an oversized poster, that can be either print or digital. Billboards are typically placed in high-traffic areas with the goal of getting the most impressions for your business. Your billboard should give viewers a quick glimpse and understanding of what you’re offering, mostly through images and some text. To make the biggest impact, billboard designs should tell a story and be memorable so that the takeaway for viewers is that the business is worth looking into.
Types of billboards
There are three types of billboards to consider:
- Classic: Classic, or print, billboards have been around for many years. They’re typically vinyl to withstand different weather conditions. These billboards usually cost less than their digital counterparts and there are more of them available.
- Digital: Digital billboards are dynamic advertisements where you can incorporate other elements like a moving image. You can also target more with a digital advertisement because you can easily switch it up based on hours of the day. For example, a restaurant may want to advertise lunch specials during the morning and early afternoon and dinner specials starting at 3 p.m. However, digital ads can glitch and are subject to power outages.
- Mobile: If you see advertisements on busses, cars and other moving vehicles, that’s a mobile billboard. The benefit of a mobile billboard is that it’s more likely to be seen by your target audience as the vehicle moves throughout the area you’ve identified as an important place to showcase your business.
When and why your business should consider advertising on a billboard
Billboards are great for businesses that want to expose their brand to more people but aren’t relying on instant conversions. Consider billboards in specific locations if you have a brick-and-mortar store or restaurant you’re trying to get new customers into. It may also be beneficial to advertise leading up to and right next to a highway exit if you want to get travelers to your location. In this case, it’s helpful to include at least a line of basic directions to your location.
Related: Developing the Right Promotion Mix for Your Business
The cost of a billboard
Just like other advertising means and methods, the cost of a billboard advertisement varies. Most agencies that sell billboard space charge in cost per one thousand impressions, also called cost per mille (CPM), that depends on the demographics, impressions and circulation. These factors make up a billboard’s out-of-home (OOH) rating:
- Demographics: Demographics are formed by looking at the people who usually pass by the billboard. It takes into account the age, gender and even income level of these individuals, so that if you’re advertising via a billboard in a place that has more impressions from higher-income individuals and families, you’ll probably pay more.
- Impressions: Impressions are the projected number of people expected to see the ad based on the billboard’s size and location or even the speed limit in that area.
- Circulation: You can determine circulation based on information from traffic authorities. They can provide the total volume of traffic in your billboard’s location.
The total cost of a billboard, taking these factors into consideration, will vary between classic and digital billboards. The classic billboards can cost as low as $250 per month, especially when they are in rural areas, and as much as $14,000 per month or more if they’re located in midsize or large cities. Digital billboards are more expensive, coming in between $1,200 and $15,000 or more per month.
Other key costs to keep in mind are the costs to design and produce the billboard ad. The cost of designing an ad varies by design firm and can be as much as $1,000, although this can be dramatically decreased if you have an in-house designer. To produce a classic vinyl billboard may cost you $300 to $500 for professionals to complete, or $0.50 per square foot.
If you’re considering mobile billboards, you may pay between $800 and $3,600 depending on the size of the advertisement and if it’s static (unmoving) or digital.
FAQs about billboards
Are billboards worth it?
In general, billboards benefit restaurants and shops the most over service businesses. Ultimately only you can determine if the cost of billboards are worth it based on your company goals and advertising budget.
Ask yourself if someone needs more than a few seconds to understand your company’s purpose. If so, billboards are probably not worth it for you. Also, if your product, service or location has a more specific target audience, reconsider billboard ads because you’ll be spending quite a bit of money on an advertisement that isn’t meant to appeal to most people. Your money may be better spent on another advertising platform or other print advertising method.
How much does a billboard in NYC’s Times Square cost?
The cost of a billboard in Times Square can range from $10,000 to $22,000 for two weeks. These billboards rotate often because of such high demand.
How much does it cost to advertise on digital billboards?
The cost to advertise on digital billboards can vary depending on the location, but you should expect to pay between $1,200 and $15,000 or more per month. However, if you want to use a rotating billboard where you share space with other companies through rotating digital ads, you usually pay less.