How Much Does Billboard Advertising Cost in Montréal?

Creating, displaying and paying for a billboard is a very unique process. It’s not like going shopping for a new outfit. There isn’t a place where you simply walk in, purchase your billboard design and location, pay at the counter and walk out the same day. And you may be sitting there thinking, “Well, isn’t that sort what you do with an ad agency?” The simple answer is no.

So, how much does billboard advertising cost in Montréal specifically? That’s a complicated question with a not so simple answer. When it comes to billboard advertising, the cost range is quite large due to many factors that can drastically alter the final price. However, if we break it down, there are three primary factors to consider.

First, you need to decide who will be designing and producing the billboard. Will you go with an agency, your own in-house team, or will freelancers be called in to do the job? Next is the question of how elaborate the billboard’s execution will be. Are you using a static or digital billboard? If it’s static, how simple or complex do you want the final design to be? And finally, arguably the most important factors for cost are the billboard’s flight and location.

Billboard for Netflix's Strnger Things. A monstrous hand is holding a billboard that looks like a phone.

Each of these variables will significantly affect your billboard’s total, and to make it even more confusing, prices are always changing. But, hopefully by exploring the way each of these aspects influence pricing, you’ll be able to gain an idea of how much your particular billboard advertisement will cost in Montréal.

Billboard advertising overview

Advertisements are something few people outside the advertising industry think about. Even though the average person sees up to 5000 advertisements every day, the constant bombardment of ads makes it so the more we see them, the more invisible they become. And whether we’re consciously or unconsciously aware of this fact, most of us are blind to the sheer number of ads we see on a daily basis.

There’s thousands of ads that come at us from so many directions. This is especially true today because many common forms of advertising come to us via the internet. We receive emails and see banner ads that tell us about sales. We have social media posts constantly updating us on the latest products and we even have notifications delivered directly to our phones that let us know about the promotions we’re missing out on.

With Canadians spending up to 11 hours per day in front of screens, it makes sense to believe that the most important and most profitable forms of advertising are in the digital space. However, even with all the new forms of advertising that technology has brought us, there is one type that has endured throughout and continues to prove it’s worth; the billboard.

Why choose billboards?

Billboard advertising has long been an important and influential form of media for businesses and brands trying to sell their products. Even though consumers now spend a large percentage of time in front of screens, the average Canadian still spends over one hour a day in a car. This means that while technology based advertising is definitely a great way to target a large segment of a given population, billboard advertising is still seen, noticed and retained by consumers at a higher rate than many other forms of advertising.

Montréal’s population is around 4 million people which represents roughly 11% of the Canadian population. This means 4 million people are spending on average over an hour of their day in a car in Montréal alone. For example, OUTFRONT Media, one of Canada’s largest out-of-home media suppliers, is able to reach 70% of Montréal’s population on a daily basis through billboard advertisements. From these numbers it is clear that putting money into billboards is still a viable option for reaching a large number of people.

Cars driving along highway with a multiple billboards visible.

Factors that alter cost

When determining the method of advertising to use, cost is an extremely important factor. Brands have a set budget for how much they are willing and able to spend on advertising for each fiscal year. But how much does billboard advertising actually cost a brand? From ideation to design and production to placement, each of these factors changes the final price.

Designing and producing your billboard

When creating a billboard, the first thing to figure out is who will be designing and producing the final product. The easiest way to break this down is to decide whether to go with an advertising agency, an in-house team, or a team of freelancers. There are pros and cons to each, but ultimately, they are all professionals who will be able to create a unique and dynamic piece of advertising that fits the needs of your product or brand.

Agencies

If you decide to go with an agency, the main advantage is that you’ll have all the resources of whichever agency represents you at your disposal. They take care of most of the steps throughout the process, which takes a lot of work off your back. Another advantage is that if you don’t have them on retainer you just pay them for when they’re actually doing work for you. The price each agency charges in Montréal is drastically different, and mainly depends on the size and client roster of the agency. That being said, an agency with high rates may or may not be something that your company can afford.

Caricature of people working in an advertising agency.

One of the drawbacks of using an agency is that they also must decide if they want to take you on as client. This can make the process of selecting an agency longer, especially if you have multiple agencies who want to pitch their campaign ideas to you.

Similarly, if choosing an agency, you need to take into account that they may not generally take you on as a client if you’re only trying to produce a billboard. There are instances where agencies take clients on a project-by-project basis, but these typically include more forms of media, such as digital or social work, to create a cohesive campaign as an accompaniment to the billboard.

In-house & Freelance

The primary difference between an in-house team and freelancers is that in-house employees are on a salary whereas freelancers work by a contract. There are many businesses who hire in-house teams rather than agencies to create not only their billboards, but all the ads put out for their products.

The cost of having an in-house team will change based off the salary provided by your company to each member of the team. Payment for freelancers is negotiated between themselves and the company employing them. A set amount is determined based on a contract for either a certain time frame of employment or a number of ads created. Keep in mind that freelancers who have been in the business for a long time are going to demand higher payment than those who are just starting out. You can request to review the freelancers past work and decide whether they’re a good fit.

Creative execution

The words and images displayed on the final version of the billboard that is subsequently put to market are elements of creative execution. This is usually the longest stage in the process of billboard creation as it can take months of creative review to decide on the final design elements. The creatives will also have to consider the message they are trying to convey, the audience they are trying to reach, where the billboard is being displayed and the amount of time it is being displayed for.

This process begins with the creative team ideating and presenting an array of campaign ideas to the company, brand or business they are producing the billboard for. It is rare that the first round of creative review yields something even relatively close to what the final product will look like. Eventually though, after many rounds of edits and revisions, an agreement is reached, and the billboard is produced.

When most people think of the term ‘billboard’ they envision a static billboard on the side of the road or highway. These boards usually display an image with a few words of copy, but not much else. However, billboards advertising is no longer this straight and simple. So, deciding on the exact type of billboard that will be produced is another major element in creative execution.

Static and digital billboards are two forms available for purchase in Montréal and allow for a wide variety of ads to be displayed on them. Digital billboards can have moving images, graphics, and words to create an eye-catching and amusing ad. While static billboards may not allow for movement within the ad, they are able to be built using different shapes and designs to better reflect the specific advertisement. An extreme example of this is a billboard that was created for Strongbow Ciders that contained gigantic arrows sticking directly out of the board.

Billboard for Strongbow Cider with two arrows sticking out of it.

Flight and location

The billboard’s flight, meaning the amount of time it will be displayed for, is a consideration that will be taken into account during the creative planning stage. The companies that sell billboard advertisement spaces generally do so for minimum and maximum amounts of set times. A billboard can be on display for as little as four weeks to a full calendar year.

There are many factors that will affect the final cost of a billboard no matter where in the world it is being displayed. That being said, the billboard’s location is arguably the most vital factor in determining its cost. Whether it is located in a major city or a smaller township will greatly alter pricing. As will the location of the billboard within that specific city or township. For example, placing a billboard along a busy highway route will cost much more than placing it in a suburban area. The main thing to understand is that the more impressions, or viewers, the billboard is likely to have in a given location, the more it will cost.

City landscape with empty billboard along highway that says "your ad here."

When deciding the placement and location of your ad, the audience being targeted is a major factor that should be considered. For example, if you’re looking to target a university-aged audience, then placing your billboard near a university is a better option than placing it closer to a retirement home. Similarly, if the product being sold is geared toward a wealthier demographic you’re better off placing the billboard in an area where these people are more likely to see it. For example, you’d want to place the board in an area with more expensive homes rather than a neighbourhood that contains lower-income housing.

Conclusion

By keeping design, production, creative execution, location and flight in mind when determining what you’d like for your particular billboard, you can begin to form an estimate on the price of your given advertisement. Just remember to be aware of the fact that prices are always changing.

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