It’s a numbers game. Billboard costs depend on a multitude of factors that mostly have to do with positioning with location, size, and visibility. All these factors meet to form a set cost for a billboard ad, but different companies offer different rates. These are general costs of billboards that will come up today.
Billboard advertising costs roughly $1,500 to $4,000 for most, though it can dip as low as $250 in rural areas and can reach $14,000 or even higher in larger markets with higher income brackets.
What Affects Billboard Costs?
Many different aspects can affect how much you will pay for billboard advertising. The three primary factors are:
- Circulation: The total volume of traffic that passes the billboard, which is derived from transportation authorities. The circulation does not take into account whether people passing by see your ad or not.
- Demographics: The breakdown by age, gender and income level of people who typically pass by a billboard. Expect to pay more to advertise to people with higher income levels.
- Impressions: The number of people who actually see the ad, based on the size of the billboard, visibility, the speed at which people are passing, etc. This is derived from the circulation and the geo-positioning of the billboard.
Factors that go into Billboard advertising costs. Image from Geopath.
Together, these factors make up the Out-of-Home (OOH) ratings of a billboard, which is the standard set of measurements used by ad agencies to determine the cost of the billboard.
Additional Costs to Keep in Mind
You will also need to consider the cost associated with producing and designing your billboard advertisement.
Vinyl is the standard material used for the ad itself because of its resistance to weather. Printing an advertisement on vinyl for a bulletin billboard (14’ by 48’, or almost 700 square feet of material) will cost between $300-$500.
There will also be costs that go into designing the billboard. Budgeting $500 to $1,000 for billboard design would be wise. We usually recommend hiring a designer from a freelance site, however, in this case, you probably want a designer with extensive experience creating billboard ads.
Billboard Advertising Benefits Some Businesses More Than Others
Now that you understand how much billboard advertising will cost you roughly, let’s walk through if billboard advertising is right for your small business. Billboard advertising works best for businesses who are advertising a nearby location, or boosting brand awareness. A billboard for a local lawyer will benefit that business if positioned in an area close to the lawyer’s office, but a billboard featuring a far-away farm in an area nowhere near it wouldn’t benefit that business at all.
Advertising a Location
Restaurants and shops often advertise next to the closest major highway. These ads are extremely actionable, since they’re promoting something that is usually just minutes away.
Boost Brand Awareness
Many real estate agents, law firms, banks, plumbers and HVAC services benefit from this type of advertising. The goal here is not so much to convert consumers to buyers on the spot, but to boost general awareness of their brand.
Choose Your Billboard Location Wisely
We spoke to dozens of advertisers and small business owners who have done billboard advertising before, and almost all of them said that the location of your billboard is the most important consideration when buying a billboard.
There are several factors that play into how desirable a billboard spot is:
- How fast people are going by – People are way more likely to see your ad if they are on a congested highway versus a train route where travellers pass at 40 mph.
- Proximity of the billboard to the road – This has to do with visibility of your billboard to the people passing by. Your billboard should be within a close distance to the road where drivers are passing through.
- Where typical travellers are going – Are you advertising your law firm to locals, or people that are just passing through the town? Also, are people headed to the shops on the way home from work? This would be a desirable spot for a store.
Make sure that you analyze where your customer base is coming from and put the billboard exactly where they are most likely to see it. Also, consider buying a billboard directly across from your competitor. This billboard from McDonald’s is poking fun at Starbucks’ sky high prices. Imagine the effect this sign would have if you were considering purchasing a $4 coffee drink, and then realize that McDonald’s can offer a similar product at a much lower cost. It is competitively placed to direct the consumer to choose the most affordable service of the two.
Digital Billboard Costs & Benefits
The cost per impression for digital billboards is typically more than for traditional print ads.
Despite the higher cost, there’s a few key advantages to using a digital billboard instead of a traditional print billboard:
- More dynamic – With digital ads, you can have a moving image. This works to capture pedestrians attention far more than a standard billboard.
- More targeted – By showing different ads during specific times of day, you can target people on their lunch break or during the after work commute, and adjust your message accordingly.
- More flexible – You can make changes to your creative at no additional cost. You can also stream live data and user-generated content from your website/social media in real time.
Installing a Billboard on Your Property
If you’re interested in installing a billboard to advertise your business or lease to other businesses, the first thing you should do is check local ordinances. Depending on where you live and how your property is zoned (commercial, residential, industrial, etc.), there may be different regulations. Try calling the office of your local city or county government.
If it’s legal to build on your property, you have one of two options:
- Install the billboard yourself
- Lease your property to an advertising company
Alternatively, you can install and manage the billboard yourself. Factoring in all material and construction costs, a 14’ x 48’ billboard can range from around $15,000 – $20,000 for a wooden structure and $40,000 to $100,000+ for a steel structure.
In a Nutshell
Billboard advertising costs are worth it if you are trying to drive traffic to a nearby location where your business is located, or to boost brand awareness to people passing through. However, if you don’t have a physical location, or have a niche audience, then billboard advertising is not the best method to generate leads or for consumers to take direct action. If you’re looking to boost sales right away, billboard advertising should be a small part of your marketing plan but not the entire picture.
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