Your Guide to Billboard Marketing
A well-strategized billboard and OOH marketing strategy is a proven way make your brand larger than life, and produce a dramatic, memorable impact on your audience. Placing your OOH signage where you know it will be seen, and using data to understand and predict movement patterns of your customers, will help your brand be remembered. The guide to billboard advertising can move you through the creation of an effective OOH campaign to increase brand visibility, share memorable messaging, and build trust and authority for your brand.

Development of media strategy

Identify Goals

When you begin determining what role billboard advertising will play in your marketing plans, you should first clearly define its purpose. There are generally three categories where billboard marketing has proven extremely effective:
  1. Energize Brand Awareness. According to a 2023 study by Solomon Partners, billboard advertising generated an 86% recall rate with study participants. When you can showcase your brand with attention-grabbing design and a crisp, short message, billboards provide visibility that can’t be ignored.
  2. Generate Interest.  According to a November 2022 poll conducted by the OAAA and Morning Consult, 88% of adults notice OOH ads and nearly 80% of those viewers are inspired to take action. A well-placed billboard can be a reminder to stop and shop on the way to or from work or inspire travelers to visit your establishment.
  3. Establish Credibility. A billboard can help your business project an image of success and encourage trust by the very nature of its size and messaging. A recent OAAA survey determined that brands that included OOH in their marketing saw a trust rating growth of 24%. Billboards give your brand status and sets you apart from the competition.

Know the Audience You Want to Reach

Your billboard is going to be seen. You want to make sure it’s seen by your customers and the audience you want to attract. You have the opportunity to place your OOH in a location they pass frequently. Your data can help you build your messaging into a component of their daily commute or travel and help you know where they will be at a certain time of day. It’s effective. OOH advertising has been shown to have a lower Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) than other forms of advertising.

Nail Down Cost and Budget

There are several factors that weigh into the costs of the most effective OOH advertising for your business. These include:
  • Location: It goes without saying that placing your billboards in high-traffic areas will cost you more.
  • Size: Another good rule of thumb to follow is that the larger the OOH, the higher the price to rent the space.
  • Unit type: Here the choice comes down to traditional static billboards or newer, innovative digital billboards.
  • Creative: Your design costs will differ based on your choice of unit type and the impact you plan to make with your billboard. Static OOH requires reprinting and replacing the message, while a digital unit, perhaps more expensive, provides for easy swap-outs of digital content for relevant messaging.

Integrate Your OHH into Omnichannel Marketing Campaigns

You will realize a greater return on your OOH spending when you base your decision on optimizing billboard placement and deployment in conjunction with other marketing channels – print, digital, and social media. According to a study by Nielsen, OOH can increase the effectiveness of other media by as much as 42%. You can use location-based targeting and data collection to precisely analyze data to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behavior and preferences and tailor fuller engagement across all the channels your customers use. 

Static Or Digital Billboards

At some point, you’ll have to decide between deploying traditional, static billboards or innovative digital billboards. Each is effective. The answer to which medium you’ll include depends on your audience, where they are seeing your OOH, the competition for eyeballs your signage faces, and, of course, your budget. Traditional Static Billboards create long-term brand awareness by casting a wide net and heightened awareness through repetitive viewing. It’s estimated that for an advertisement to become memorable, it must be seen at least 20 times. With a strategically placed billboard you can easily create unforgettable branding. Drawbacks include the cost of print and installation, and it can be expensive to swap out messaging.  Digital Billboards offer opportunities to use videos, moving images, 3D models, and interactive elements to immerse audiences in unique experiences. You can easily swap out content to keep messaging relevant and occurring in real-time. Digital billboards also have the benefit of measuring results more fully than static ones. Cost can vary widely, depending on the degree of technology, location, and when you want your ad seen.

Design For OOH Success

OOH is a distinctively visual medium, but to be effective the billboard design and messaging must immediately seize the attention of your customer and quickly convey your brand message. On most roads, the typical driver has no more than 8 seconds to scan billboard marketing, perhaps less on a busy interstate. Your billboard must be appealing and easy to read to make it memorable and impactful. Here are a few pointers to consider:
  • Show, don’t tell. Is there an interesting image that gets your point across with as few words as possible? Avoid long descriptions with text and use fonts that are easy to read.
  • Go Bold or Go Home. There’s no need for subtlety with your billboard advertising. Use bright, vibrant colors and large, full fonts that grab attention and get noticed.

Stand Out and Be Noticed

Your billboard should make a lasting impression on your audience and one of the best ways to achieve this is by creating a look that sets your brand apart from its environment and contrasts the colors surrounding it.

Build Off Location

A well-designed billboard or other OOH can actually become an iconic element of a city’s identity. Taking things like local folklore or nicknames into account with your OOH message can make a greater and more memorable impression on targeted audiences.

Make it interactive.

Digital OOH gives you the opportunity to add interactive elements into messaging and engage audiences with fun and unique marketing content that can be accessed with smart devices and used for cross-channel call to actions. 

Create an Emotional Connection

You can create an immediate emotional connection with billboard advertising that uses humor, anger, or compassion and make a lasting impression on your audience. According to Forbes, 56 % of billboard viewers actively engaged in conversation about something funny they saw on a billboard.

Placement considerations

The same cherished rule that guides real estate decisions applies to where you should put your OOH for maximum effect: location, location, location. When your audience is exposed continually to your consistent messaging, it becomes part of their routine and journey and is emblazoned into their consciousness.   Of course, while important, that is just one of many issues to contemplate. Here are several other factors that you should take into account when deciding where to focus your billboard marketing efforts: Audience Demographics Use customer data to analyze additional demographic information that goes beyond age, sex, and income to also factor in when and where your customers will see your billboard. This requires analyzing traffic patterns and commuter schedules. Many drivers and commuters make purchasing decisions while away from home and your billboard can anticipate, recommend, and reinforce their shopping behavior. Competition In a perfect world, your billboard would be the only one in your chosen location. However, that is rarely the case. It’s often unavoidable yet vital to be seen where others are also competing for eyeballs, like busy urban areas, popular exit ramps, or tourist destinations. That places greater emphasis on your messaging and choice of using either static or digital billboards and creative elements to stand apart. Traffic flow How and when does your audience move? Are they stuck in morning traffic at the same bottleneck that happens every day? What time of day are they most active and will your billboard gain the most visibility? Understanding where your audience is along the path they take to reach their destination can help you determine the best place and messaging for your billboard. Regulations Get a thorough understanding of local regulations to make sure the spot you pick for you billboard meets all applicable laws and regulations. This is one of many reasons it is advisable to partner with experienced sign companies that have a grasp of permits and other requirements. Billboard Size, Type and Viewing Distance You only have a short time to attract and engage your audience with your billboard, so it’s important to consider its size and format so that can easily be read and enjoyed from distances for longer view times. If your audience is moving past your billboard at street level or in close proximity, you’ll have more time to get your message across. There are several OOH formats that are effective, either static or digital:
  • Bulletins - Typically 14’ x 48’ in size and are located along highways and busy roadways, bulletins are the most familiar type of billboard.
  • Posters -Smaller in size than a bulletin, these are most effective when used on local roads to appeal to slower traffic speeds
  • Mobile – Available in many shapes and sizes, mobile billboards are Ideal for taking your message on the road and setting up for special events or short periods of time.
  • Wallscape - An increasingly familiar sight in cities, a wallscape uses an entire side of building to make dramatic impressions on audiences.

How to measure effectiveness

You have several ways to determine whether your billboard marketing is paying off. In the past, it would have been possible to only measure outcomes when the campaign ended by measuring before and after KPIs. Today, technology gives you access to audience exposure in real-time by using anonymized demographic and mobile location data to determine why, where, and how often your audience will pass your billboard. This can be extremely important if you go digital with your signage and must bid on advantageous viewing times because your ad will rotate with other advertisers. Here are a few ways to measure your billboard’s effectiveness:
  • Monitoring web traffic to your site concurrent with peak audience viewing times or in conjunction with billboard-integrated omnichannel strategies.
  • Using social media hashtags and QR codes (for posters) that not only increase engagement across channels but also provide tracking and social engagement measurements.
  • Measuring sales revenue and store visitations that can be attributed to your billboard placement.
  • Tracking branded searches customers use to arrive at your website or mentions on social media.
You only have to look back at some of the most memorable marketing in your own personal history to understand the impact of strategic billboard marketing. Today, you have a wide variety of billboard and OOH signage to your spread brand awareness, build interest in your brand, and give your brand a prominence that engenders trust and encourages action.