Why Are Billboards Still a Thing?

 

billboard

 

Billboards – depending where you live, you may still see these regularly, and wonder if they are still effective. This is an older form of marketing, yet they are still around.

I recently assisted the marketing department at my children’s school. An electrical billboard was just built a mile or so from school, and everyone was excited about being able to make use of it. I wondered if it would do anything – after all, billboards seem outdated and not as effective as they once may have been.

However, this one was a little different – sitting at eye level on a busy intersection, the digital signage was bright and eye catching. In the end, it yielded good results and the school did get inquiries from people seeing the signage.

Surprisingly, billboards are still an effective means of marketing communication for a few reasons.

  • People are not as home as much. According to a recent New York Times article, companies are turning to billboard advertising because people are traveling more, whether it’s communiting to work or going on vacations. Additionally, people have their phones with them almost constantly – an eye catching advertisement may be shared online, giving more punch to the efforts. Spending for what is referred to as “out of home” advertising, including billboards, has increased 4.6% in the last two years. Companies see the value of this out of home advertising.
  • Consumers are cutting the cord when they are home. TV advertising, on the other hand, has fallen 3.6%. Why? People are turning away from traditional television viewing, often times cutting the cord and using other services, such as Netflix, Apple TV, and the like. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll use the cable’s on demand service. With many programs, you can fast forward through the commercials. Advertisers have taken note of this shift and adjusted their spending accordingly.
  • As with everything else, billboards have evolved. While traditional billboards are still being utilized, digital and even interactive billboards are coming into play. These are brightly lit displays with messaging that can be changed easily, which is helpful for marketers. They are also more visually appealing and eye catching. Companies are turning to these digital billboards because they can now incorporate multiple messages (vs the traditional one image/message) and get more bang for the buck.

As technology offers more opportunity for out of home marketing, companies have gotten creative. Below are some interesting uses of billboards:

Create a challenge – in Stockholm, Reebok created a digital, interactive experience for passers by. They were challenged to run past the display, which was wired with a speed tracking device. If someone could beat the 10.5 mile an hour pace, they would be “rewarded” with a new pair of Reebox’s newest shoes.

 

Take a break – literally. Kit Kat worked off its “Take a Break” slogan in Columbia with a digital display that encouraged passers by to lean up against the display. They would receive a quick massage as they did so.

Kit Kat took this a step further and used social media monitoring to spread the word. They monitored Twitter and looked for users talking about being tired or stressed – when they found these tweets, they sent a reply to the user letting them know they could use a break. They provided a map with the nearest locations of one of their displays and encouraged them to visit and get a quick massage.

 

Uber focuses on traffic and weather. Iowa State students created a digital display to be used in DesMoines. Their goal was to create something that would be useful and promote Uber services. They created the billboard below and incorporated some neat features. For example, if it started raining, the messaging would change to show people passing by how close an Uber driver was at the moment and how much it would potentially cost for a ride.

 

While it may be surprising that billboards are still a thing, and you may drive past them daily without giving them much thought, it seems that this is still a means of marketing communication. As digital and interactive billboard technology is enhanced, it is possible that the traditional billboards may die out. Until then, marketers still see the benefit in using this traditional form of advertising.

 

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