With a laundry list of advertising channels out there, choosing the right one for your campaign can seem intimidating. Do you mimic your competitors? Follow the trends? Go for the highest potential impressions?
The marketing and advertising landscape has shifted significantly over the past decade with every brand flocking to social media as their #1 marketing focus.
However, mindless scrolling and negative perspectives on social media could indicate that social media is not the silver bullet for higher engagement.
One of the most effective advertising methods is actually right under our noses. Or rather, above our heads. I’m talking about billboard advertising. The age-old advertising method that literally raises your message above the noise of the digital sphere.
While the digital realm constantly evolves with new algorithms and technologies, outdoor media is seeing its own progress. The growing popularity of digital out-of-home (DOOH) is just one example. Despite this, many people are left wondering: do billboards work in 2024?
Short answer: Yes, absolutely. And we’re not just saying that as a nationwide billboard rental company. Let’s dive into what makes billboards effective, even in the digital age.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The current state of billboard advertising
- Trends and innovations in outdoor advertising
- Effectiveness of billboards in 2024
- What makes a billboard ad effective?
- Cost and ROI of billboard advertising
- Billboards vs. other advertising channels
- Challenges and opportunities
- Local, regional, and national impact
- Conclusion: do billboards work in 2024?
The Current State of Billboard Advertising
We can’t answer the question “do billboards work” without looking at market growth. In many ways, the numbers speak for themself. As we’re all familiar, COVID-19 hit a lot of industries hard and outdoor advertising was no exception. It came as no surprise that outdoor advertising revenue decreased close to 31% in Q4 of 2020.
The sector experienced a major rebound when things began to open up again and quarantine lifted. In 2021, US outdoor advertising revenue rose to $8.72 billion and has been trending upward since. In 2024, OOH media spend is expected to grow to $10.5 billion, surpassing even pre-COVID numbers.
It makes sense that the industry bounced back as the worst of coronavirus subsided. People were going outside again — traveling, commuting, gathering outdoors, attending events. In a way, billboards were a signal of normalcy. The brands we know and the products/services we value were still there (and not just on our screens).
Today, there are more than 351,000 billboards in the US, which includes bulletins, digital boards, posters, and wallscapes. That number will continue to grow and digital billboards, in particular, will shine.
Advertisers of all sizes — from massive corporations like McDonalds and Apple to startups, small businesses, and local nonprofits — are leveraging these larger-than-life ad spaces to promote their brands.
When we dig into the gains associated with out-of-home advertising, there’s no question that billboards are here to stay.
Trends and Innovations in Outdoor Advertising
With sights set on innovative methods for engagement, the billboard industry is constantly evolving. So when someone asks if billboards work in 2024, they might not be caught up on today’s OOH advancements.
Digital billboards, equipped with vibrant LED displays, allow for more dynamic and interactive content. Augmented reality (AR) has emerged as a game-changer, enabling advertisers to overlay digital information onto the real-world environment. This not only enhances the viewer’s engagement but also opens up new creative possibilities for storytelling.
Furthermore, geotargeting and data analytics are being integrated into more and more outdoor advertising strategies, allowing advertisers to deliver personalized content based on the location and audience demographics. In some cases, advertisers can alter their campaigns in real-time with data insights.
The fusion of creativity and technology means that advertisers can take advantage of the modernity to launch something truly engaging.
In tandem with these technological strides, there’s a growing emphasis on sustainability in outdoor advertising. Eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient lighting, and digital displays that consume less power showcase the industry’s commitment to minimizing its environmental footprint.
These trends collectively reflect an industry that is embracing innovation, leveraging technology to captivate audiences, and incorporating sustainability into its core practices.
Effectiveness of Billboards in 2024
If brands of all shapes and sizes are investing in outdoor media then it must be true that billboards work, right? Sure, but it’s not as simple as just slapping your logo, website, and phone number on a sign.
Not all billboard campaigns are created equal — just like any other marketing campaign. In order to maximize billboard advertising effectiveness, you’ll need to consider a few key components:
- Your target audience (demographics, location, interests, values, consumer behaviors, etc.)
- Creative best practices
- Your brand identity and voice
- Timeframe (campaign duration, time of year)
What Makes a Billboard Ad Effective?
Making a billboard effective boils down to several factors. You must first identify your target audience. Then, you have to find them. Where do they spend their time? Next, you have to get to know them. What do they like? What are some challenges they face? What do they look for when considering a purchase? Finally, you have to tailor your message and design to them. It needs to be something bold, easy to read, and easy to act upon.
Whether your campaign goal is to bring people to your physical location or to take digital action (call, visit your website, etc.), there’s a high likelihood that you’ll achieve that outcome. Research has shown that around 1 in 3 people who saw a digital OOH billboard visited the website or performed a related search. Close to the same percentage of individuals visited the advertised business in-person.
Even more, the same study revealed that 20% of people who saw that digital billboard are likely to recommend the product or brand. Word-of-mouth marketing can be a game-changer for businesses since 88% of people trust recommendations from people they know.
In essence, OOH advertising can stretch your ad dollar by extending your reach beyond just the people who lay eyes on your board.
But what about after your campaign expires? Will people forget your board as time goes on? Think again. Close to 82% of people can recall a digital OOH ad they saw over a month ago. Consider the last few billboards you saw. What can you recall about them? The brand? The slogan? The imagery?
Even after all these years, billboards maintain their influence on consumer behavior. There’s no denying that a well-crafted campaign has persuasive power. Perhaps that’s a major indicator that billboards still work in 2024. We haven’t even gotten to the return on investment (ROI) yet so let’s take a look at how the numbers break down.
Cost and ROI of Billboard Advertising
There are several factors that determine how much a billboard costs. The primary factors are:
- Impression count
- Length of campaign
- Size of board
- Digital vs. static display
- Creative needs
Naturally, an ad space in Times Square is going to run you remarkably more than a board along a rural highway. Depending on where you choose to advertise, you might pay a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands per 4-week basis (typical campaign cycle). Just be sure you’re working with a billboard rental agency that prioritizes cost transparency.
One way that outdoor advertising agencies calculate rental costs is through ratings formulated by Geopath. Geopath is a nonprofit organization that audits and analyzes audience locations and traffic across the United States. They glean a lot of their information from local transportation authorities, travel surveys, and even eye-tracking research.
Agencies will refer to OOH ratings assigned by Geopath when pricing particular boards. The three main factors that go into the rating are:
- Circulation (volume of people who pass by a display)
- Audience demographics (age, socioeconomic status, gender, etc.)
- Impressions (number of people who see the board, influenced by the directional placement of the board, its visibility, area speed limit, and more)
What sort of return can you expect from your billboard campaign? While gains can vary greatly, 96% of advertisers are happy with the ROI of their OOH campaigns. Data shows that static boards have an ROI close to 40% while that of digital boards hovers around 38%.
If you’re looking for an advertising method that delivers a strong return on investment, billboards may be among the smartest choices.
Billboards vs. Other Advertising Channels
Although billboards do still work in 2024, they’re often overshadowed by other advertising channels.
We’re over a decade into the social media craze and many of our days are dominated by screens. Despite a portion of the population admitting to being “chronically online”, outdoor advertising reigns supreme for several reasons.
For one, there’s a documented fatigue around online ads. One global survey saw 39% of respondents sharing that they were “annoyed by advertising on the internet.” 27% of respondents also said that they use ad blockers.
Similarly, consumers respond negatively to email marketing — among them, too frequent, poorly written, and too salesy. Pouring resources into creating an email campaign only to have those emails sent straight to spam/junk folders, haphazardly marked as read, or immediately deleted could really hinder your marketing success.
When compared to other advertising channels, billboards have the highest levels of consumer recall. Unlike the heavy concentration of ads thrown at us online, billboards tend to be more spaced out, giving your ad space to breathe. Billboards are far less disruptive than other advertising forms while still remaining attention-grabbing.
Challenges and Opportunities
Navigating the outdoor advertising landscape presents its share of challenges. A quick rundown of some out-of-home advertising challenges:
- Competition with digital platforms for consumers’ attention
- Adapting strategies to capture shortening attention spans
- Rising costs/demand associated with prime billboard locations
- Evolving regulatory landscape, which may impose restrictions on certain types of content (ex. cannabis advertising and political billboards)
These challenges are not impossible to overcome. In fact, they also pave the way for tons of opportunities:
- Data-driven insights for targeted campaigns
- Integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for real-time adjustments
- Experiential advertising for immersive and memorable brand experiences
- Strategic partnerships with local businesses for more collaborative campaigns
A big part of being a successful marketer is being agile and forward-thinking. When it comes to billboards being effective in 2024, there’s a wealth of tips and tricks out there. Check out some of our posts on billboard best practices.
Local, Regional, and National Impact
The impact of billboard advertising can differ at local, regional, and national levels—reflecting the diverse dynamics of different markets.
Locally, billboards play an important role in community engagement. They also reflect the interests, values, and even the current social climate of a particular area.
If there are high levels of unemployment in an area, it might be wise for a recruiter to advertise there. Likewise, a city with a predominantly elderly population may house a high volume of healthcare advertisements.
Regional impacts often leverage cultural nuances, tailoring messages to align with the nature of a particular area. If a billboard is situated in a community that is predominantly African American, an ad for a school that exclusively portrays white children might not resonate.
A more localized approach can enhance relevance and deepen the connection between the brand and its regional consumers.
On a national (and global) scale, billboards act as powerful brand ambassadors, fostering a consistent and recognizable image across diverse geographies. Achieving a positive impact, however, requires an understanding of market-specific nuances.
Conclusion: Do Billboards Work in 2024?
In 2024, billboards stand resilient as a dynamic and impactful advertising medium. Weathering the challenges of the digital era, billboards have not only rebounded from the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic but have also exceeded pre-pandemic revenue levels.
The sector continues to grow and evolve with digital out-of-home advertising rising in popularity.
Billboards continue to deliver a strong ROI, with a vast majority of marketers feeling satisfied with the outcome of their campaign. It’s no wonder why the industry is forecasted to grow to $10.5 billion in 2024.
Ready to see it all for yourself? Give us a call so that we can support you in launching a high-impact outdoor media campaign.