Is Billboard Advertising Still Relevant?

Blog | 4 MIN READ

How many billboards did you pass on your way into work? How many did you actually read?

Billboard advertising has been around for as long as Dracula, but some marketing pundits are asking if it is time to drive a stake in its heart. After all, they argue, this is the dawning of the digital age. Does billboard advertising even fit in?

Edward Boches, professor of advertising at Boston University, believes that although billboards may feel like a throwback, they are one of the few remaining shared public marketing experiences.

“Given the fragmentation of media (digital, social, on-demand TV),” argues Boches, “there are few opportunities remaining where we see something at the same time we know others are seeing it.”

There is something comforting about being able to talk about an advertising billboard you’ve seen with friends and coworkers and have people know what you are talking about. You may not watch the same on-demand TV show, but at least you travel the same highway.

A few years ago, Arbitron did a study that revealed 70% of American drivers notice an advertising billboard message sometimes or most of the time. This indicates to me that billboard advertising still has plenty of mileage.

According to a more recent Arbitron study, 90% of people say they notice digital billboards some or most of the time. Digital billboards do definitely pop. The colors are vibrant. The images are sharp and crystal-clear. Many consider these digital billboards as the ultimate cross between traditional outdoor and digital ads.

The benefits of digital outdoor advertising are numerous. A big advantage is cost. Because these boards are displayed electronically, there are no printing expenses. But the most unique thing about these LED boards is the ability to modify and update the message by day of the week or time of day. Digital outdoor advertising allows advertisers to serve up real-time messaging. A television syndicate can easily remind you to tune in to their top-rated sitcom “tonight.” A restaurant can promote a breakfast item in the morning, a lunch special at noon and happy hour after four o’clock. Try doing that with a conventional outdoor board.


Of course, I’m not sure that pitting digital media against outdoor media is all that constructive. After all, they work totally differently and are meant to work in tandem. Outdoor often serves to provide brand awareness. Sometimes its role is to provide a directional call to action like “exit now.”

Digital, on the other hand, is intended to be interactive and create a direct relationship with the consumer. It can be used for branding, but more often is a direct call to action with an experiential component like “learn more” taking a prospect to a digital landing page.

I believe that digital advertising and billboard advertising should never be viewed as competitors, but rather as colleagues. A carefully integrated B2C marketing campaign enlists a variety of media depending on the budget, the product and the target. Digital, outdoor, television, radio, print, social media––you name it.

This campaign for Caron Treatment Centers uses billboard advertising in conjunction with radio to introduce Caron to the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

The more options you explore, the more effective your spend strategy can be. If you need professional guidance on developing an effective integrated marketing initiative, contact us today toll-free at 866.642.7559.

We are a Dallas Advertising Agency [link to About Us page] with expertise in integrated marketing.