Depending on whom you ask, billboards conjure different images. Let’s agree for the purpose of this article that, when we talk about billboards, we are referring to those large outdoor structures we normally see along the interstate.
Of course, this definition is a little simplistic. Billboards come in all shapes and sizes. They are not just along well-traveled roadsides. We see them in city downtown areas. You will find billboards anywhere billboard manufacturers expect them to earn money for the advertiser and hence the creator.
The term billboard comes from the “billing board”. This term refers to the outdoor advertising space of gigantic proportions. Billboards are huge because their aim is to catch the eye of passing walkers, cyclists, and vehicle drivers. They are intended to be read in their entirety in the time it takes a pedestrian, biker, or driver to pass by the sign.
Measuring Billboard Effectiveness
According to writer, Apryl Duncan, Americans are deluged with visual stimulation. She estimates that, on average, Americans are bombarded with between four thousand and ten thousand ads every day.
To be effective, billboards need to stand out from their competitors. While billboards have a captive audience as people walk, run, bike, or drive by, they must be large, striking, and easy to read. Otherwise, their potential audience will simply ignore them. Measuring billboard effectiveness is important to every outdoor media campaign. Billboard companies should provide statistics and specific data as it applies to:
Outdoor media is unique in that it is one of few advertising mediums that is not as dynamic. Where internet ads can change frequently and within a short time span, billboard generally change less often, but are sometimes more effective. How is this? Measuring billboard effectiveness always begins with evaluating location of potential billboard placement. This is usually done by considering factors such as:
- Number of people or vehicles that pass a billboard per day
- Number of people or vehicles that could see your billboard per day
- People or vehicles who actually saw/interacted with your billboard
Measuring Traffic for Billboard Effectiveness
It’s crucial to know the traffic surrounding the location of a billboard in order to better measure traffic for billboard effectiveness. For one, you should try to find an ideal location that gets a lot of traffic, although these areas can usually be priced much higher than other lower trafficked areas. Measuring traffic is usually done through a variety of methods including government data, census, road traffic counts, and even manually logging travel data day-to-day. These numbers will help you determine if a location is an ideal placement for your business, brand, or service.
If there’s a brand name, slogan, or catchphrase — that is used unique to your business — you could use analytics data scraping methods to analyze how often those terms, phrases, or words are typed into search engines. Similar to how businesses would execute keyword research, the same method could be applied in measuring billboard effectiveness. The more search hits a phrase gets could provide insight into how often people are viewing and taking action with an outdoor ad.
Hashtags are more widely used these days and provide ample opportunity to getting potential customers on board with a message displayed on outdoor media. Utilizing hashtags can help companies better evaluate the effectiveness of the billboard advertisement.
There’s usually a direct correlation between sales and outdoor ads. It’s important you notate benchmarks in reports for sales, or general profits and determine if a new billboard ad is bringing in more customers or not.
Billboard Audience Impact
Billboards aren’t technically outstanding. Some have moving parts. Most appeal only to your vision. However, billboards have a captive audience. Think of those hours you spend in your car, bus, GO train. or other commuter vehicles.
The daily commute is literally the longest idle time in the busy schedule of North Americans. No matter how you get to and from work, while you make that trek, you are a captive audience. Companies aiming at getting their brand known and advertising agencies intend upon helping clients achieve their goals recognize the power of billboards as a vehicle. They take good advantage of the opportunity to bombard foot and vehicle traffic with powerful visual images strategically located.
Billboard advertising is effective in our busy world. It’s a way to get the highest number of views and lasting brand impressions of any advertising medium.
Billboard Advertising Goals
Billboards aren’t like other types of ads. Researchers have discovered that the average viewing time is four seconds.
So, billboards are aimed at building brand recognition or reinforcing a brand recall. Billboards aren’t there to inform, educate, or persuade. Basically, they are saying, “See me!” or “Remember me!”
How is Billboard Effectiveness Measured?
When it comes to measuring billboard effectiveness, there are several considerations.
First, let’s consider the return on your investment. How much does the billboard cost? How much revenue does it bring in? When we consider ROI, billboards have a proven record of being worth the time and investment.
Billboards are part of the landscape. They are practically everywhere you go whether you’re traveling on foot, on a bike, in a car, on a bus, or in a train. It’s little wonder that advertisers continue to pump money into this form of advertising.
Static advertising forms like magazines, flyers, direct mailing, email ads, and newspapers can be discarded with hardly a glance. But, billboards are in your face.
Thanks to modern technology, any professional outdoor advertising agency can provide its clients with hard data to show that their billboards are paying off. They can measure the foot and vehicular traffic at any time of the day, day of the week or month of the year.
Professional outdoor advertising companies can predict the demographic most likely to view and respond to your billboard. The effectiveness of billboards is measured in Daily Effective Circulations or DEC. This refers to the number of vehicles and pedestrians passing your billboard each day.
What Makes a Billboard Ad Stand Out?
Despite their size, billboards need to stand out from the visuals that surround them. That’s a tall order. Outdoor advertising companies use creative designs, eye-catching materials, catchy slogans, and special effects to make their billboards memorable.
How do they do this? To answer that question, let’s look at billboards that have stood out in advertising history. Remember, the ultimate goal of billboards is brand recognition and brand recall.
Consider these billboards that made their product a household name.
- Coca Cola should get top marks for some of the world’s most effective billboards. “It’s the Real Thing”. Recently they have used the Coke white swoop on the traditional red background to encouraging recycling containers. Not a word is needed!
- IBM has taken its city billboards to a whole new level. They have added a curve to their billboard to create a rain shelter and a ramped bench seating area. Their creation blends modern design and function.
- “Kleenex” did such a good job of brand recognition that its name is synonymous with every other tissue brand. But, like Coke and IBM, Kleenex is not content to bask in its name recognition. The company’s latest billboards appeal to emotion. Their ads afford their customers opportunities to show caring.
- Famous for its Golden Arches and yellow off-ramp billboards, Macdonald’s has always excelled at sending a message without using a word. Now, this fast-food giant is turning its billboards into homes for bees.
- It would be impossible to ignore the “all you can eat and more” billboards erected by the motorist stop Oldtimer restaurant chain. The billboard surrounds a tunnel on the motorway with the tunnel acting as the customer’s mouth.
Are You in the Market for Effective Billboard Advertising?
Professional Outdoor Advertising Experts have the knowledge to create attention-getting billboards. They know where to place them to build brand recognition with your niche market.
These professionals also have the tools to measure viewer reactions and to help clients make adjustments for maximum return on investment.