How Much Does a Billboard Ad Cost?

There are so many advertising platforms out in the world that sometimes, it is hard to decide which one to choose. It can be confusing, especially when you are new in the business. You have to decide what is right for you and your target audience as well. Depending on the product advertised, you will find the right advertising platform. How many impressions do you want in a day? A week? What is your budget? How long is the ad running? There are many more questions you need to answer before making a decision as the costs are not only in the value of money.

When you answer these questions, you can decide what medium is right for you. It could be social media, in which case you can save a lot of money depending on the social media you’re using. However, any other medium from radio to TV and billboard is a different story.

billboard ad


Which Medium Are You Using?

Advertising medium

After further analysis, you might face more than one choice. Your product might be appropriate for both TV and radio. Maybe even billboard as well. How will you make a decision? Well, it will all depend on your budget, the number of reach you aim at, and of course how creative you want your ads to be.

Costs wise, radio seems to be the cheapest of all three options. It ranges from $500 to $8,000 per week depending on the city. Remember, the bigger the city, the higher the cost and the bigger your audience as well. Aside from the costs, radio advertising has other advantages. It is very targeted since each radio has a speciality. For example, there are radios that play only country music so if your target is into country music, you know where to go. Also, radio stations are mostly local so you know what specific population will be hearing your ads. For the creative part, you have a lot of options. It can be funny, serious or seductive and the voice actors are the ones who do all the magic, so you’d have to choose them wisely.

For TV, the number of people reached can be very good, depending on the show you choose to air your ad on. According to AdAge, the costliest TV show, ‘‘The Walking Dead’’, drew 17.3 million viewers on its season premiere and 15.8 million viewers on its season finale. From an advertiser’s point of view, that’s a good amount viewers. An obvious advantage of TV is that, it allows you to convey your message with sight, sound, and motion, which can give your business, product, or service instant credibility. The costs depend on the program your ad is placed on as well. For a big TV show like ‘‘The Walking Dead’’ for example, you can spend up to $400,000 for a 30 seconds ad. For ‘‘The Voice’’, you’d spend $192,140 per 30 seconds ads and for The Conners, $201,065 per ads. Needless to say that TV ads are very expensive to run, especially for very popular programs. From a creative point of view, TV is a good option as it offers room for crazy ideas that will hook the audience. Advertisers love that.

Billboards are probably the most effective of them all, in terms of impressions. But it comes with a cost, a big one. Billboard advertising can cost you up to $10,000 a month depending on a number of factors such as location, type of billboard, whether you are renting or building your own. Billboard’s rating is based on three factors. These factors are circulation, demographics and impressions each of which is defined as followed according to Kiah Treece:

    • Circulation: the total volume of drivers or passengers or both seeing the billboard, excluding the passersby.
    • Demographics: a breakout by age, gender, and income level of people who typically see a billboard. The higher the income level, the more you’ll pay.
    • Impressions: the likely number of people who actually see the ad.

Traditional Billboard

static billboard

Traditional billboards have been around for a long time so they are easy to get. They are also the less costly option when considering billboard advertisement. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s cheap. In addition to the factors cited higher, the rates are also based on the size, rental period and the place where you are renting. In Toronto for example, a large billboard will cost $1,500 to $30,000 per location per 4 weeks; a medium billboard will cost $750 to $2,000 per location per 4 weeks and $300 to $750 per location per 4 weeks.

In the U.S., the rates will vary in each state. In Cedar Rapid, Iowa, the rate goes from $500 to $4,000 per month; Indianapolis, Indiana, $1,500 to $5,500 per month; Boston, Massachusetts, $4,000 to $13,000 and in Los Angeles, California, $1,000 to $10,000. These variations in rate don’t seem to be due to population size because Boston which has a smaller population (3,909,472) than Los Angeles(10,451,934) is more expensive. One more detail to consider when using traditional billboards is wether or not you want lighting. Indeed, it could be a useful feature to add if you want your ad to be seen at night and from a distance too.


Digital Billboard

digital billboards

Digital billboards are more expensive and since they haven’t been around for long, they are less accessible. The rates are over the roof as well, but for a good reason. Digital billboards leave more room for creativity and effectiveness. You can run more than one ad on one billboard during the same period of time. Isn’t that cool? Also, the creative possibilities are limitless. The pictures below show some examples of great creative work by advertisers on digital billboards.


Creative digital billboards

But is it cost effective? Well, that depends on the perspective of the advertisers. They have to consider whether or not it is worth it. One thing is for sure, it is not affordable for everyone which is why making the decision of using digital billboards over traditional billboards should require much consideration. In Toronto, a digital billboard can cost from $2,500 to $8,000 per ad and that is for smaller sizes. The bigger the billboard, the higher the price. Also, it all depends on the location, which helps determine the number of impressions. The cost per thousand or CPM is approximately $37.42. So, how big should the billboard be? Will it be placed in a busy place such as Yonge & Dundas Square? Will it be high or low resolution? Adding all these features, the cost can easily go up to $250,000 per ad.

In the U.S. on the other hand, the rates aren’t that high. In Cedar Rapid, Iowa, it ranges from $2,100 to $3,500 per month. In Indianapolis, Indiana, it ranges from $3,000 to $7,000 per month. In Boston Massachusetts, it ranges from $2,500 to $8,000 per month. In Los Angeles California, it ranges from $6,000 to $15,000. Again, it depends on the size and the location, I can never stress this enough. For example, the rates for advertising on a billboard in New York Time Square can never compare to the rates in Cedar Rapid in Iowa. Advertisers spend $1million to $4million a year on billboards in New York Times Square.

Are You Renting or Owning?


billboard rental

Renting or building your own billboard are two other choices you have, when engaging in billboard advertising. Building your own would benefit you more in the long run for several reasons:

    • It would be cost effective as you won’t have to worry about rental fees anymore.
    • It would save you the time of looking for an available billboard to rent.
    • You will not have to worry about how long you can run the ad: it’s your billboard, so no pressure.

However, you should be prepared to spend, because it will be a lot of expenses at ounce. For billboards made of wood, it will cost $15,000 to $20,000. For steel, the cost ranges from $40,000 to $100,000, and $154,000 or more for digital. Determining the dimensions of the billboard will help you know the exact costs.

If you don’t have the budget necessary to build your own, you can rent, like a lot of companies still do. Many factors come into consideration when renting a billboard, and they can be benefits or disadvantages. It all depends on where you are advertising:

    • You’re paying for CPM.
    • You may have to spend some time finding the right billboard, the right location, the right size etc.
    • You can have more exposure.
    • Depending on where you end up renting a board, your ad can hit the right target every time.
    • You have the option of moving, so you don’t advertise on the same spot over and over.

These are a few factors among many to consider before making a decision. Not every business is the same, so they won’t have the same concerns. It is better to do thorough research and study your target well, but most importantly, make decisions that agree with your budget.

Other Options You May Want to Consider

Bridge ad

If billboard advertising is out of reach for you, you may want to consider other out of home alternatives:

    • Bridge ads: these are ideal for high and slow traffic areas. People who are stuck in slow moving traffic have a lot of time to read your ads and even think about it.
    • Transit ads: advertising in public transportation vehicles and taxis can help you hit your specific target when used on particular routes for example. Also, commuters will most certainly see your ad as they just sit and enjoy the ride.
    • Lamp post banners: they are more appropriate for high foot traffic areas and are suitable for promoting events or businesses that are nearby.
    • Mobile ads: these are truckside ads, car wraps, bus wraps, truck wraps and they move. It is as if you are following you target around, giving them no choice but to see you. It’s very cost effective and makes a lot of impressions.

Billboards are a great advertising platform, and that’s why many advertisers go for it. The costs go from $500 to as high as $300,000, depending on dimensions, location, impressions, types and many more factors. The key is to gather enough information and budget before making the decision to rent or own one. At the end of the day, even if billboard advertising is effective, it is the only option you have, and it may not even be the right one for your product. Using the appropriate platform for your ads matters and that is why there is information available about other alternatives. You will definitely find what is right for you, and if that’s billboard, then now you know what to expect costs wise.





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