The Timeless Importance of Billboard Advertising
Are billboard advertising posters still relevant in the digital marketing world? Discover the advantages of implementing a physical ad campaign for visibility.
- What is billboard advertising?
- Advertising posters
- Billboard campaign timeframes
- Billboard advertising as a marketing strategy
- Is billboard advertising still effective in today’s marketing landscape?
- The digitalisation of billboard advertising
1. What is billboard advertising?
Billboard advertising is the process of using a large-scale print advertisement as part of a company’s marketing strategy. A billboard is meant to showcase a brand, product, service, or advertising campaign to attract new customers to the business and create loyalty amongst its existing customer base.
Typically placed in high traffic areas, such as along highways within populated, busy cities, billboard advertisements are ideally located so as to be seen by the highest number of people - both drivers and pedestrians.
Billboard advertising is effective for building brand awareness and broadcasting your business (or product or service) to as many people as possible. Because they are located in such busy areas, billboards typically tend to have the highest number of views and impressions when compared to other marketing methods.
2. Advertising posters
Advertising posters are a common print promotional technique used by SMEs and big, established businesses alike. A poster includes the elements of graphic design, images, colours, and copy.
An advertising poster provides a message that aims to promote a brand or call attention to a company event, for example. Relative to other business advertising methods, a poster has several clear advantages:
Size and shape flexibility
Depending on factors such as the nature of your business, what you’re advertising, and your brand’s identity and graphic charter, you get to play around with the size and shape of your advertising poster. This is important because it allows your creative team to take advantage of the full potential for visually pleasing and thought-provoking advertising that billboard advertising offers.
Advertising posters also allow you to be quite flexible with your distribution in terms of choosing the locations of your billboard. This lets you be strategic in your campaign: for example, consider factors such as the demographics of a specific area of a city, whether it’s predominantly made of a young population, whether your product or service is expressly needed in this area, where your competitors might be located...
In some cases, creating and distributing an advertising poster can be significantly less costly than working with a digital marketing agency and implementing inbound marketing methodology, for example. When it comes to communications strategy, keep in mind that you’re probably going to have to invest quite a bit in digital communications as they require a lot of time and effort and consistent, arduous work. For instance, an SEO campaign is an ongoing process that practically never comes to an end - which means a team of experts is continuously working on it without break. As opposed to this, a poster advertising campaign is more acute and therefore likely to be more affordable.
Ongoing, long-term exposure
Despite the more acute nature of carrying out a poster advertising campaign as compared to a digital marketing campaign, the exposure you get as a result is ongoing and long-term. This is a clear advantage, as it allows you to achieve a good amount of visibility more efficiently. When you spend less time and money creating and implementing a campaign and get longer-term engagement as a result, you can consider this to be a clear win for your visibility strategy.
3. Billboard campaign timeframes
In the UK and Ireland, a billboard campaign must run for a minimum of two weeks and cannot run for more than two months at a time. It’s generally considered that the average cycle, a month-long billboard campaign, provides the brand or product with the necessary exposure.
It’s important to consider the time limits of a billboard campaign cycle as determined by your country’s regulations. The timing of your billboard ad campaign and the interval of time it runs are crucial elements of your advertising strategy.
- the nature of your product, and
- its specific relevance in the context of both the market and your audience’s demographics,
you will want to tailor the timeframe of your ad campaign to these contextual factors. For example, if your company sells equipment for winter sports, you are more likely to reap the full benefits of a billboard campaign at the peak of the season, when the biggest influx of customers is most probable. Further, running the billboard campaign for two weeks when the winter sports season lasts for a month is less likely to bring you as many customers as a campaign that is planned within the appropriate timeframe.
4. Billboard advertising as a marketing strategy
Billboard advertising might not be as new and exciting as digital marketing strategies. However, it can still be a highly effective way of promoting your brand’s image and boosting your visibility and notoriety by growing your reach and increasing your impact. It is also a method that can strengthen any inbound marketing efforts you may have (and should) invest in, such as online lead offers, regular content publishing, and SEO.
The importance of physical marketing methods such as billboard advertising specifically lies in its ability to supplement digital marketing strategies in this way. Not only does it significantly increase your overall chances of reaching a wider audience, but it may also help you tap into an audience base that you weren’t deliberately targeting. As anyone of any demographic can see a billboard advertisement, especially if it is located in a significantly busy area, your chances of gaining new customers are automatically increased.
5. Is billboard advertising still effective in today’s marketing landscape?
When the very first billboards were created, it was surely difficult to imagine billboard advertising would grow to become one of the most effective marketing methods in terms of reach and influence. Later, the Internet took over, dominating the world by changing how we carry out every transaction and consequently presenting us with game-changing innovation as to how brands interact with their customers. Thus the birth and rise of digital marketing.
Years passed by as entrepreneurs working in every sector gradually started replacing older methods with newer and more effective alternatives, affecting how we eat, dress, conduct politics, and everything in between. In the same way, the digital revolution made it so that marketers have also managed to diversify their advertising methods. However, some strategies proved they would die hard.
Today, nothing has managed to replace local advertising, particularly billboard and poster ads. Countless brands use billboards for a rather conventional ad placement while some, like Coca-Cola, have made it their mission to entertain bored drivers with funny and captivating signs.
Maybe the field of marketing has tried but failed at replacing billboards completely. Maybe marketers are just taking full advantage of the clear benefits of creating billboard advertising campaigns and the endless array of possibilities it offers product placement efforts. And maybe billboard advertising is a strategy that has proven so successful in terms of building a brand’s influence and notoriety that it seems to be impossible to fully replace with digital methods.
In any case, billboard advertising is clearly still significantly effective, even in today’s digital era. Why is that?
Impulse buying and proximity
Outdoor media advertising, namely billboards and large-format posters, remains one of the easiest ways to prompt a consumer into taking action. If you see a billboard ad for a new restaurant in town, for example, you would be more likely to stop and check it out than if you were to stumble upon it while scrolling online.
The element of proximity combined with the witty wording and appealing graphics of most billboards make it a perfect physical call to action. For example, compare this to seeing the same advertisement on your Facebook feed: you would probably be less inclined to immediately get up and drive to the restaurant.
The non-intrusive, non-imposing nature of billboards makes it a lot easier for us to trust them and rely on them compared to online advertisements.
Consumers typically worry about the possibility of running into false information and scams online. This risk is significantly lower with local poster advertisements, for example, as they are seen as more trustworthy and less likely to be the product of an elaborate scheme.
The generalised desire most of us have to avoid advertisements as we browse is why many of us prefer to spend money on purchasing the premium version of a product. In some cases, users will also opt to install applications that block ads.
Pop-ups and online ads that play automatically and interrupt your browsing experience are manifestly becoming less effective by the day. As regular Internet users, we know that most people skip ads out of habit and often get frustrated with the disruptive nature of online ads.
Here’s why billboards are different. First and foremost, they are not forceful. People typically don’t choose to change their everyday route to work because a new billboard bothers them. Most people don’t make it a point to divert their attention from billboards - unless they are offensive or crude, which is also rarely the case.
As a general rule, repetition is an extremely effective advertising tool. This is the case because it contributes to building brand awareness, meaning it helps keep the brand at the forefront of viewers’ and consumers’ minds.
However, some new digital strategies used in repeating online ads give the user little to no control over what they can see - which means they are likely to feel like they’re being continually bugged to buy a product or subscribe to a service. You can guess that this will probably lead to a potential customer being annoyed and resorting to methods such as ad-blocking.
People seem to be more understanding of billboards they keep crossing, as they are by nature less imposing. This gives the viewer the impression of more freedom in what they choose to buy and consequently lets the method of repetition do its job when it comes to persuasion, as opposed to the case of online ads.
6. The digitalisation of billboard advertising
Although billboard ads are considered the “classic” alternative to digital marketing strategies, it remains that as everything else in the world of advertising undergoes a digital transformation, so do billboards. An excellent example of this phenomenon is the “Magic of Flying” interactive billboard, a British Airways campaign that won the Direct Grand Prix at Cannes.
First launched in 2013 across different locations in London, this campaign was the first of its kind and, as a result, created a wide-scale reaction in the marketing world. It consists of a digital billboard that combines an old format with new technology to create a narrative. Doing so does a great job at commanding the attention of viewers and impacting them in a meaningful way.
The tagline “Look” or “Look Up” leads viewers to take physical action in response to the advertisement. Perhaps the most impressive part of this campaign is its unique use of custom-built surveillance technology whose purpose is to track BA planes as they fly overhead and create a real-time experience for drivers and pedestrians who would come across it.
When the billboard detects a plane, the pictured child starts to chase after it with a finger pointed up, running in its direction. Flight details are then displayed along with a URL that viewers can then visit to book their own flight. The genius of this marketing strategy decidedly lies in its ability to directly influence the viewer’s behaviour in response to seeing the billboard, directing them to effectively become a customer of BA by booking a flight on their website.
Combining digital and “classic” formats in marketing in this way can often be significantly more impactful than using one or the other strategy individually. As the possibilities in billboard advertising grow and innovations in digital technology continue to reach new heights, it’s important for marketers to take advantage of the ever-growing landscape of creativity they can tap into to influence their target audience.
Billboard advertising seems to be continuously evolving and will likely be something very different 30 years from now. Because of its adaptable format, universal appeal, flexibility, non-intrusive nature, and increasingly targeted messaging, billboard advertising seems to be in it for the long run when it comes to the world of marketing.
While adapting to the ongoing digital transformation is crucial to stay on top of your marketing game as a business owner, it’s just as important to appreciate other formats that are proven to be effective, albeit older and less entrenched in Internet culture.
With Welink Agencies, you can get started on your next billboard advertising campaign with a team of creative designers and marketers that will accompany you during the entire process. All you have to do is specify your location and search for “billboard” or “poster”, and you’ll be able to choose from a list of qualified agencies near you!