Billboards are a unique advertising format in that they represent both the history and future of outdoor advertising. Traditionally, billboards have been used for their ability to ‘reach’ a location and for (awareness increasing) frequency. It is safe to say that billboards have successfully generated awareness for brands for a very long time.

 

Things change though. Today’s ad culture reflects our high turnover, easily updated, throwaway culture at large. Marketing managers, understandably, often want their campaigns to be mobile, in every sense of the word. Billboard advertising, traditionally, isn’t. Further there is a strain of thought that if an ad can’t be clicked, it can’t be measured and isn’t effective. This was wrong fifty years ago (when we had nothing to click) and it is wrong now (when we are able to click sideways on the internet endlessly), but it doesn’t help the image of the billboard.

 

Which is a shame, for those who don’t get it at least, for the following reasons:

 

    • The billboard has always been a highly effective format. We know it works. Just because it isn’t as simple to record (or manufacture) results, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

 

    • With the specialization of TV, the billboard is more useful as a format still able to reach a wide demographic.

 

    • Billboards are very well placed to take advantage of new technologies.

 

Technology is changing the way we use billboards. Digital screens dot our urban landscapes now and as the price continues to fall, the number of them is only going to increase. They offer movement to a medium that is already highly effective at catching our attention and allow for content to be changed, to keep up to date with the change in a campaign. A digital billboard allows for the message to be tailored, not only to the location but also to the time of day or to react to the environment. These changes are combining to make the format more engaging (for both brands and their target audiences) than ever.

 

The other big transformation that is going to affect the way we interact with billboards, is the irresistible rise of mobile technology. Smart phones enable audiences to act on advertising messages in the present tense. The removal of physical boundaries from the equation allows a brand to approach, engage with and sell to in the moment. The messages on digital billboards can start to act more like instore messages as a result.

 

New technology is going to create a better ROI for billboard adverts, making them better at targeting audiences and working alongside companion mediums as part of a media mix.

 

Want to know whether the billboards of the future would work as part of your media mix? You know who to ask.