Do Billboard Advertisements Really Work?

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We’ve heard the question from clients many times over the years - do billboard advertisements really work? When I challenge them to notice their own behaviors while driving, I often hear back that “Sure, I saw several billboards, but I’m too aware for the marketing to impact me.” But, I respond, do they really know what messages and brands their subconcious is taking in and storing for later recall? If they have a late night need for a plumber, is there a good chance they will remember the plumber who’s billboard they see every day on the way home?

Today, I came across a great Forbes article titled “Does Outdoors Advertising Still Work?” The author reviewed the data from the Arbitron National In-Car Study, 2009 edition, and found some incredibly useful takeaways as to how influential billboard advertisements can be.

Billboard viewers make shopping decisions while in the car.

There is an additional big takeaway that the author just barely touches on at the end of the article. At Grid, we firmly believe that your marketing should never consist of a single marketing piece. As the author of the article says, you “[c]an’t just have a billboard to have a billboard.” If you are considering investing your time and budget into a billboard campaign, here are a few of the questions you should be considering:

  1. What is the message you are trying to convey? The average driver will spend approximately 5-10 seconds viewing your billboard. Is your messaging concise? Understandable? Relatable? Are your graphics clear and visually interesting? Is your typography in a large enough font to be read?
  2. What is the action you are trying to drive the customer to take? Are you expecting them to remember a complicated phone number, in a time when most people rely on speed dial? Do you have a website url that is memorable and relates directly to your business? How will you ask them to visit your retail location, remember your address and business hours?
  3. What will the customers experience be once they take this action? If they call after hours, do you have a voicemail that captures the customers information so you can contact them back? Does your website reflect the same messaging and branding as the billboard? What is the call to action on your website, or how will you capture the viewers information so you can follow up?

Do billboard advertisements really work? Absolutely. But for them to be the most effective, you need to consider them as one piece of your overall marketing strategy, not your entire marketing strategy in and of itself.

Photo courtesy of flickr user Lord Jim.