Commentary

Billboards. Dead or Alive?

According to an article I read in my local newspaper, the billboard is dead and no longer a useful medium of advertising. I would have to disagree.

Although I recognize the fact that billboards are not the most popular form of advertising, I still believe they serve a purpose. After reading that article, while on a trip to Indy I tried to see how many billboards caught my attention and many of them did. The majority of the billboards that caught my eye were food related.

All it takes, for me at least, is to see a big juicy hamburger on a billboard with a funny, creative message and I think to myself, "Hmmm...now that looks good." Now, although I may not pull off the interstate that moment to get the burger, you bet I will go to the restaurant for my burger by the end of the week because the message created a sense of craving/need...aka top of mind awareness.

Also, advertisers are utilizing digital billboards now (which I am sure you've all seen) and I believe those are more pleasing to the eye than the traditional billboard. Digital billboards also allow advertisers to place multiple messages on one billboard and for a future sales rep., like myself, that just screams money.

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Even though some billboards can be eye sores at times, if the advertiser really takes advantage of an effective campaign or creates a captivating message, it will get noticed. Whether the message is displayed in a newspaper, on the radio, or on a billboard...the consumer will recognize it.

All in all, the billboard is far from dead, but will it stick around forever? Who knows...does anything these days?

6 comments about "Billboards. Dead or Alive?".
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  1. Rick Simmons from Dinkum Interactive, January 21, 2008 at 9:32 a.m.

    Those who are talking about the death of different forms of current advertising are not understanding the whole picture. While a shift is necessary so that the media spend is more in proportion to the impact they make there will certainly be a place for this - whether I like the desecration of the environment or not.
    The Internet will gain more spending and eventually the billboard folks may need to bring their prices down (duh) they will get it eventually. However go away - nope - not happening nor should they as part of amix that warrants their use.

  2. Ken Knorr from Buildtelligence Web Solutions, January 21, 2008 at 9:47 a.m.

    Excellent Post

    Billboards provide the "last mile" reinforcement for advertisers. You might Love a juicy hamburger from Burger King, the billboard tells you that you are nearing it. Home Builder and land developers use them to give directions to out of town visitors. Some advertisers still use them to build branding (but in my opinion that's fading)

    Billboards aren't dead, they're paid direction signs that help consumers find what they are looking for in that "last mile". While in-car GPS and mobile solutions will cut into the billboard market, I don't think they're going to kill it. Billboards cash in on impulse better than any GPS or mobile solution will, as long as we can't resist the 30 foot Hamburger and Frys :)

  3. KEVIN BULLARD, January 21, 2008 at 9:52 a.m.

    Ugly Eyesores - good riddance! You can always tell when you are in a better neck of the woods: they limit billboards.
    Vegas

  4. Mark Walker, January 21, 2008 at 10:28 a.m.

    Vegas? You're kiding right? I do believe there are more billboards there than anywhere on earth! And talk about tacky messages... how close is that strip club?

  5. Karin Oliver-Kreft, January 21, 2008 at 12:23 p.m.

    I think it's less that the medium is dead than that the creative posted is usually poor. Well created billboards are still very effective. Unfortunately, most of the creative out there is trying to serve too many purposes and falls short on all.
    The medium has specific requirements and those developing the creative (both on agency and client side) need to respect the limitations: these are not print ads, you have to be VERY focused in your message - 8 words or less, people, with quick, easy to recognize imagery.

  6. David Jaeger from Global SEM Partners, January 21, 2008 at 4:50 p.m.

    Kelly, you've definitely got a good point about the billboards. I can't believe someone thought they are going to lose their prominence.

    The only way something loses prominence in advertising is

    1) If people stop viewing the ad
    2) If the ad effectiveness goes down (people pay less attention to it, for example, or the ad copy sucks)
    3) If advertisers randomly decide to stop paying the previous prices.

    Neither seems to be the case with billboards. People aren't traveling / walking / driving less, and the billboard industry like other advertising is doing the same well as far as ad copy goes as ever before.

    I love when people make stupid statements like that.

    The digital billboards make me feel like I'm in the wrong business - internet marketing.

    Gosh, Clear Channel makes an easy $5k a month for each billboard they have up in prime places (after they split profit with owner), and it's almost autopilot.

    With the digital billboards, they can increase engagement, and probably charge close to the original price. Ouch that's alot of money!

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