Billboard Advertising

Billboards are outdoor marketing tools that are marketed toward consumers among the general public. They come in many forms, and have been around for over 100 years. As technology improves, so does the quality of billboards.

1. What is a Billboard?

A billboard is a very large advertisement method used on major highways and busy streets to promote many different areas of products, companies, and people. They are typically situated in high traffic areas, so they will be visible to mostly vehicle traffic. They are also used in cities to promote businesses and products to both pedestrians and traffic. Billboards are used widely because of their great size. They can be visible from quite far away, allowing the driver ample time to read what is being advertised. Billboards can be used for many different areas of advertising. Many are for a product; some are for a business. Some are even rented to proclaim a personal message for a specific person, such as a birthday wish.

There are many types of billboards, all of which are used all over the world. There are traditional billboards, digital billboards, mechanical billboards, and mobile billboards. Each one has a unique way of advertising their product or person. Billboards are especially popular because they can be custom designed to the buyer's specifications. Sizes of billboards vary, but typically run about 14 feet high and 48 feet wide. This size can vary greatly, however, due to many different factors. Billboards are popular because of the large lettering used on them, making them nearly impossible to miss.

2. Billboard Advertising and Placement

The main point of advertising on a billboard is to quickly grab a driver's attention through various means of quality advertising strategies. The most notable areas for billboards to be set up are on busy highways and streets. They can be very useful, as many fuel and food stops are advertised on billboards, thus letting a driver know where his or her next stop could be. These work especially well for businesses in small towns that generally don't get many customers. Another placement trick is to set them on long highways and state turnpikes, as drivers don't have much to see or occupy their time with as they drive. With less distraction around them, drivers can focus more on what the billboards say.

Other good placement sites for advertising billboards are at stop signs and stop lights. This is so the driver has an even longer chance to look at and read what the billboard is advertising. There are literally thousands of billboards erected in the United States alone each year. For each new product or shop, a billboard is sure to be seen for it.

Billboards are often hung in different places, especially in highly populated cities such as New York City. They may be hung off the side of a building or placed on top of one. This allows the maximum amount of advertising possible for a crowded area.

3. Billboard Advertising Costs

Advertising on a billboard can be an effective and money-saving way for many people and businesses to advertise their services or products. Compared to other means of advertising, a billboard can be a very cost-efficient way to advertise. But how much does a typical billboard cost to put up, and is it really worth it?

The cost of putting up a billboard can vary greatly. But the average figure can run anywhere from $600 to $2,500 a month. While it may sound like a lot, it is comparable to ads run in major newspapers or phone books. The biggest advantage is that a billboard is advertising for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to a large number of people. In that sense, it is definitely worth the money to advertise on a billboard.

Billboard costs, of course, depend on what is on the billboard to begin with. The amount of information and graphics on a billboard will affect the cost, as well as how long you want the billboard in place. Typically, billboards are rented on a month-to-month basis. Technology has come a long way, however, in the creation of billboards. A typical advertisement is made on a computer, printed, blown up, and then glued to the billboard itself. Compared to the hand painting of years past, a timely and expensive process, it is a lot less costly to design a billboard today.

4. Mechanical Billboards

Popular and state-of-the-art versions of today's kinds of billboards are called mechanical billboards. But what is a mechanical billboard? A billboard of this type uses a technology called tri-action movement, also known by some as tri-visions or multi-message billboards. What these billboards do is show three separate advertisements in a rotation that is moved with the use of a mechanical system. Triangular prisms are uniquely rearranged, so the billboards surface can be rotated to show three separate flat display surfaces. The advertisements for these mechanical billboards are printed on strips of vinyl, and then attached to the front of the triangular panels. One strip from each of those three different ads is attached to each individual panel. The panels then rotate simultaneously, and pause. When paused, one of the advertisements is displayed. In this way, one billboard can advertise three messages by using one structure. They are also very eye-catching attractions, and each ad lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 seconds.

There is another type of mechanical sign called a scrolling billboard, which can show up to 30 images per side by using a roll-up mechanism that is computer controlled. Backlit vinyl is used to print images that can then be seen easily at night as well as in daylight. These types of billboard advertisements are typically used for permanent mall ads or even on large vehicles for mobile billboards.

5. Digital Billboards

Technology has come a long way in the types of billboards used for advertising. Many billboards are now of the digital variety, using LED and similar techniques to get their messages across. Advertisers can now change what they are advertising on one billboard from a computer hundreds of miles away. All this can be done with the click of a mouse, and at any time the business or person desires.

These large billboards have the ability to rotate ads every few seconds, and this enables the owner of the billboard to sell the same exact space many times over. Some companies are also currently experimenting using WiFi transmitters and Bluetoothr technology that would enable the billboard to send a message directly onto your phone when you pass by a particular billboard.

Holographic images are also used with many billboards. Billboards are becoming interactive as well, as some found out in 2004 in Times Square. A digital billboard was erected that let the viewer call a number on their cell phone, and then play a two-person race game where the cars actually appeared in real time on the billboard. A newer billboard technology is in the works that will synchronize digital billboard ads with advertisements currently playing on specific radio stations.

6. Mobile Billboards

Mobile billboards are a great way to get a particular advertisement or message across to many people all day. The mobile billboard industry began by printing large banners that were then mounted onto panels and installed on large flat bed trucks. These trucks were used solely for advertising space, and they were parked in locations that were highly visible to consumers, such as near sporting venues or entertainment centers. They could then be moved to other locations and parked, targeting a different audience.

The technology for mobile billboards evolved into the design of a mobile billboard trailer, allowing local advertisers the ability to rent and drive one themselves. Trucks now had the capability to advertise in the same way a mechanical billboard does, only on a vehicle. Three ads could be displayed in rotation, usually at about 7 to 8 second intervals, allowing a mobile billboard to advertise many things at once.

There are other areas of travel that employ mobile billboards as a means of advertising. An entire vehicle can be "wrapped" in a specific advertisement. These vehicles are usually personal cars or trucks, and the individual driving them gets money for advertising that particular product. Some billboards are put onto train cargo containers. Still others are towed behind boats and vessels on larger lakes and oceans. There are many ways to employ mobile billboards into everyday life, and companies realize that this is a great way to get their advertisements across, as many people see them everyday.

7. Visual and Environmental Concerns of Billboards

There are those groups who have complained about the popular use of billboards. They say that having billboards along the highways and interstates causes too much cutting down and clearing of trees and endangering wildlife. Concerns are also raised that billboards may intrude on the surrounding landscape, because of their size, bright colors, and large fonts. They believe this may be a form of visual pollution. Some other groups believe that billboards, and even advertisements in general, do not help the mentality of the public, because of their focus on material wants and needs.

One popular argument is an event that occurred in Athens in the year 2000. Rooftops in Athens had so many billboards on them that it was hard to see their famous architecture through them. The city then started a four-year project in preparation for the 2004 Summer Olympics to tone down the billboards and beautify the city for tourists and locals alike.

While billboard advertising can be a great way for companies and businesses to get their services out, many groups worry that there are too many billboards in place. Depending on the density of the population, billboards can be few or many.

8. Safety Concerning Driving and Billboards

Another concern over the use of billboards is that they may be distracting to drivers. Since billboards are aimed at being large, flashy, and highly visible, many drivers take their eyes off of the road too long in order to look at them. In the United States alone, some cities have tried to ban billboards, but the First Amendment has always protected the rights of billboards and the companies who display them.

However, many studies have been performed to find a link between accidents and billboards along the roads. The AAA Foundation for Traffic safety has a report on driver distraction as prepared by researchers at the University of North Carolina. The research concluded that billboards were not a significant source of distraction for drivers on the highways. For years, traffic safety experts have studied the link between outdoor advertisements and traffic accidents, and have found no scientific evidence to conclude that billboards contribute to increased accidents.

One important safety issue actually works for the use of billboards. Studies show that the bright lighting provided by many billboards provide visibility and lighting for motorists along dark highways. Studies also show that billboards may help relieve boredom for drivers, especially on long trips, by providing them with something to read. The Federal Highway Administration has stated that the agency agrees that billboards that are regulated appropriately do not compromise safety on the highways or local roadways.

9. Does Billboard Advertising Work?

Billboard advertising is effective as its aim is at a large group of people. Drivers get the benefits of seeing and reading ads, as do passengers, bicyclists, and walkers. Companies are able to easily target a specific population or group, and pay relatively lower prices for outdoor advertising, especially as technology increases and billboards become simpler to design.

Increased automobile usage and traffic over the years also contribute to the success that outdoor billboard advertising has seen. As consumers sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, they typically have nothing more to look at than billboard advertising. Billboards cannot be avoided, either. For example, a radio station can be changed during an advertisement, or a TV station muted or turned off. This provides companies advertising with longer exposure, ultimately resulting in billboards and outdoor advertising that works.
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