Are Billboards Still Effective in the Digital World We Live In?

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By Jacob Maslow

Throughout the 20th century, billboard advertising proved exceptionally successful alongside various countries’ roads and highway systems. Despite the immense growth in social media advertising and the massive growth in digital marketing trends, billboard advertising remains practical and relevant.

Growth of billboard advertising

Few people know that the first billboards were created in the 1930s by Jared Bells to present circus acts. New legislation in the 1860s allowed the purchase of space outdoors for advertising. From there on, billboards underwent several changes, including regulations regarding size, lighting, and spacing in the 1960s.

Today, billboard advertising ranges from the traditional poster type to sophisticated digital creations. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is that they are an effective, creative, and engaging form of marketing. With an ROI of 497% from out-of-home advertising that includes billboard advertising, research shows that billboards continue to offer a 10% annual growth rate, proving their effectiveness.

Exploring Reasons for Billboard Effectiveness

Across the globe, people are on the move, spending less time at home and more getting about. Commuters often spend hours in their cars each week and are a captive audience. Additionally, unlike other advertising mediums, billboards cannot be ignored.

1.      Prompting Consumers

Arguably, in a world of smartphones, billboards can appear out-of-place. However, they effectively prompt consumers on their purchasing decisions, as shown in a study published in 2019.

Businesses rely on consumers purchasing after viewing their ads. This is where billboards are so effective – close to 70% of consumers decide on their purchases while driving. So in a short time frame, a billboard can influence their decisions.

2.      Opposite of Advertising Overload and Ad-Blocking

Most of us are exposed to thousands of ads every day. In our desire to block these, we are willing to pay extra for premium versions of our favorite products or pay for applications to block ads. Many of us also skip ads wherever possible, but this has nothing to do with the ad itself – it is more about us despising the process of forcefully having to watch one.

Then again, billboards are not forceful and rarely create an adverse effect on people. They have the potential to reach a large audience and rarely ever offend anyone. Audiences are not known to avoid them by changing the route they usually take, and hardly anyone tries to stop looking at them.

3.      A Subtle Form of Repetition

In marketing, everyone knows that advertising repetition keeps a brand interesting for consumers. But, unfortunately, digital media marketing techniques used to repeat ads are annoying for the average consumer. This is because they have a minimal choice of what they can select to see.

Ads pop up constantly as they scroll on their phones or listen to music and are a constant source of irritation. This increases their compassion for the more subtle form of billboard marketing.

4.      Non-intrusive

Billboards are considered a non-intrusive form of advertising by consumers, making it easier to be trusted. According to Nielsen’s data and nimbers company, consumers (even millennials) continue to trust traditional media far more than social media. In addition, consumers generally worry about scams and false information online because it is relatively cheap to target consumers there.

5.      Creative Appeal

Strategic designs make billboards memorable and exciting, ensuring they are far more creative than many digital marketing campaigns. Also, many billboards evocatively demonstrate their message, leaving audiences in awe with the creativity. This creativity carries a powerful appeal.

Final Take

Billboard advertising has not remained old but has continued to adapt to the ever-changing modern world. This ensures that billboards continue to capture audiences. Targeting messages are often displayed in colorful posters, but many companies use LED boards (usually solar-powered) to interact with their audiences. As long as billboards continue to convey consumer messages directly and quickly, they will continue to have a purpose in the future.

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