IS THERE STILL VALUE IN BILLBOARD MARKETING?
If you are like most people, there is a really good chance you don’t like wasting your money. Especially when its investing in the future of your business. With all the space there is to advertise, how do you know which one is going to hold the greatest ROI? While almost all forms of advertising work. Some just aren’t as effective as they used to be. In this first part we explore the ever famous and often ignored billboard.
Poster advertising can be dated back all the way to 1796. Back then, the billboards were in place for people on horseback or carriage. Informing them of the nearest inn or resting place. These would sometimes include the amenities that the inn would provide. Transition into the 20th century and you start to see a wider range of restaurants and cities advertising the advantages of making a stop in that area, instead of continuing your journey.
In the year 2017 the billboard has little to no effect on the driver stopping for a nights rest, or even a hot meal. All we have to do is open our phone, and ask Google the nearest place of interest. Then, without hesitation we have directions at our fingertips (or even using voice commands). I honestly can’t remember the last time I actually looked to a billboard long enough to read the entire thing. Let alone to fulfill a current need I have.
There is a strategy with billboards
When placing a billboard ad, you will usually have access to all of the analytics to assist you in making a purchasing decision. For example, you will know the circulation or amount of traffic, the demographic of the average passenger (age, gender, and income level). As well as the average amount of impressions you will get. These are what is going to determine the cost of your billboard ad. So, if you were to place a billboard in let’s say, Dubuque, IA is going to be significantly cheaper than New York City.
While this might seem like a great deal if you live in a smaller town like Dubuque, that’s doesn’t mean it’s a good investment. If you were to place a traditional billboard, your ad is going to receive more impressions than it would a digital ad. Because you are sharing a space with other ads on the digital board you are going to be missing possible customers. Although, usually with digital you have the ability to change your ad within the window you have purchased. You also don’t have the cost of printing a physical 650 sq ft. ad.
What about digital billboard advertising?
Let’s break down the cost of a digital billboard in a smaller town like Dubuque. If you were to place an ad with the highest frequency of 1 minute. In a 4 week window your ad will be shown on screen 37,800 times, giving you roughly 210,000 impressions. This would cost around $2,800. This gives you a CPM of $13.33. Those numbers sound impressive on paper, but truth be told those are not an accurate way to gage your investment.
Those impressions are going to be the amount of traffic that drives past your ad. I already mentioned the lack of attention I have for billboards. It’s safe to assume that most of the passengers in the vehicle are going to be head down in their phone. Not looking at the billboards you’ve invested in. Honestly, even at a red light the driver probably takes a quick peak at their phone instead of looking at your ad
What does this mean for marketing?
The attention isn’t on the billboard anymore. There might be some people that do in fact see your ad. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work the way that it used to anymore. Let’s compare that same cost for something like Facebook ads. Which are easily the most impactful and cost effect form of advertising currently. We will stick with Dubuque just to stay fair with our comparison. If we were to create an ad for gym or fitness center, we are able to use Facebook targeting to select Dubuque as our area we would like to advertise. We Then select a few keywords to target our audience even more.
I can then place the ad to run for 4-week period. With a budget of $25 a day, we will get an average of 2,750 people reached per day. Over a 4-week period this is 85,250 people. Which is about 40% of the impressions we would get with a billboard. It’s also less than 1/3rd of the cost at $775. Also, I can guarantee that you are going to get a better conversion rate on the 85 thousand people you targeted vs the 210,000 random drivers that may or may not see your ad.
Digital simply has more value for your business
Using a form of digital advertising like Facebook ads. Give you real-time feedback. You get access to how many impressions you get, and what your reach was. You get their age, and their gender. How many people were engaged with the post. How many people clicked the ad, and how many people made a purchase (and so much more). This gives you insight on anything about your ad you might need to change. Even giving you the ability to do split-testing to find the ad that will convert best for you.
Hopefully this had shed some light on the faded paint that is the billboard. There are going to be instances where putting up a billboard are going to be advantageous. IF you have it in the budget, and already use digital marketing as your main filter for your marketing budget. IF you can find a great deal on a 4 week window at $150 in Benton, WI (Don’t really know if that’s the cost. Or even if there is a billboard in Benton) go for it. Please, be smart and don’t use billboard as your main or only source of growing your business. As poor advertising, can lead to you closing your doors.