How Much Does Billboard Advertising Cost in Vancouver?

Canada is home to an incredible number of picturesque environments, from the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, to the red sands of the Bay of Fundy. Canada hosts a plethora of locations that are known by many and attract thousands each day. These make perfect hotspots for billboards and have been used by companies for years to message consumers in highly dense areas of people.  

Businesses looking to penetrate the Canadian market and use out-of-home (OOH) mediums to target consumers can find dozens of major cities within Canada. Each with its own dazzling environments that continuously pull traffic towards their beauty.

Vancouver is one of many major cities in west coast Canada that generates large amounts of traffic from Canadians and tourists, making it a billboard hotspot. Let’s take a look at all the factors that contribute to the cost of putting up a billboard in Vancouver, Canada.

Population

The overall population of an area, whether rural, suburban, or urban has a significant impact on the total price of putting up a billboard. The more saturated a location is in population, the higher the price of renting the billboard will be. Major cities that are well known for their serene environments such as Vancouver, pull visitors from Canada and tourists from other countries, which further increases the traffic its billboards receive.

Comparing the population of Vancouver to other Canadian major cities like Toronto and Montréal may indicate that the price of putting up a billboard will be significantly cheaper due to the total population of Vancouver./ However, due to the massive volume of traffic from visitors, the price of putting up a billboard can cost the same or more as compared to its Toronto and Montréal counterparts.

While Vancouver receives more impressions on its outdoor advertisements from tourists, the total price on average is cheaper, although not significantly so. The population of Vancouver is roughly 625,000, whereas the population of the city of Toronto is 2.9 million. This shows why it is more expensive to put up a billboard in Toronto as compared to Vancouver.

Billboard size

The size of a billboard plays a key factor in determining its price. The golden rule to follow is that the bigger the billboard, the more expensive it will be to rent per month. There are several billboard sizes, each with their individual standard prices. It should be noted that standard prices for billboard sizes may change depending on the OOH supplier, and as previously stated, from city to city.

In the greater Vancouver area, OutFront media, an OOH supplier, owns a large amount of billboard locations. On their website, OutFront labels their small and moderate sized billboards “Posters”, and their larger, more expensive billboards’ “super-boards.” Posters measure between 10′ H x 20′ W to 16′ H x 12′ W. While super-boards are much larger and typically measure at 14′ H x 48′ W.

Landscape of the city of Vancouver reflecting over a body of water.

What makes Vancouver unique?

Unlike other major cities in Canada, Vancouver is currently undergoing municipal reform to restrict where billboards can be erected and how big they can be in certain areas. Just like other cities, Vancouver is most likely regulating its advertising signages to preserve its natural beauty. The push to regulate OOH advertisements will primarily effect suburban billboards, but will leave core Vancouver city billboard locations alone.

Billboard format

Before selecting a location to set up a billboard, it’s paramount to choose a billboard format that matches your creative pieces and media budget. There are a handful of formatting options to choose from, each impacting the billboard’s total cost differently. Let’s take a look four of the different billboard formats available in Vancouver.

Static billboards

From the far, rural areas to the heavily condensed metropolises, you’ll see billboards all over Canada.  Static billboards are standard billboards that are most commonly used in Canada and around the world. They’re comprised of materials such as wood, metal, polyvinyl chloride, and sometimes other weather resistant materials. The total cost of a billboard is influenced by what material the billboard is comprised of. Materials such as polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene that are superior in keeping their colour and vibrancy over long periods of time against weather and UV light. For comparison, metal and wood billboards are more expensive and will increase the total cost of putting up a billboard.

Tri-vision billboards

Although purchasing OOH advertisements can be expensive, especially if you’re planning on renting for more than one month, tri-vision billboards are a great alternative to advertisers with a smaller media budget. Tri-vision billboards have prisms that rotate every 7-10 seconds and are able to display up to 3 separate static billboard messages.  What makes tri-vision a cheap OOH alternative is that three separate companies can share the rent space of one billboard at a time, heavily reducing the monthly cost of renting the billboard. Because tri-vision billboards are capable of displaying three separate messages, brands are able to purchase all three sides, allowing them to have more creative and targeted messaging.

Billboard in Manhattan that's displaying artist Lil Uzi.

Digital billboards

The brighter and more eye-catching sibling to static billboards is the expensive, LED-filled, digital billboard. These billboards are often found in core areas of major cities and are far better at pulling in strong impressions. They also have a higher rate of recalling copy on billboards as opposed to static billboards. Because digital billboards pull higher volumes of impressions, they’re expensive, often being more than double the price of static billboards.

Digital billboards are able to play pre-recorded videos, live stream both realtime videos and live data, and are capable of more complex and appealing creative executions. Another benefit to digital billboards is that you don’t have to pay production fees to print and set up a billboard each time you want a new OOH ad. All advertisers need to do is send your properly formatted creative pieces to the billboard supplier and you’ll have your billboard displayed within minutes.

Mobile billboards

Not to be confused with mobile devices, mobile billboards are delivery and hauler trucks that are wrapped with a billboard advertisement and travel along a predetermined route and destination. This form of OOH stands out because unlike other billboards, they are completely mobile and are able to track and measure impressions for hyper-targeted messaging. Mobile billboard suppliers like Movia install tracking and Wi-Fi collecting devices on trucks acting as moving billboards, offering real-time impression analytics and retargeting opportunities. Brands can view their real-time dashboard to see who, when, and where their message was seen and track their ROI. They can then build relevant audiences and reach them again on their mobile devices, increasing overall effectiveness far beyond what traditional OOH can offer.

Sometimes mobile billboards are the only format brands can use in certain locations for OOH advertising. States such as Hawaii & Maine have laws preventing businesses from erecting billboards to preserve the natural beauty of the environment. Mobile billboards evade these laws as they’re not legally considered billboards in these states. This is because they’re mobile and do not take away the beauty from the environment around the moving billboard.

Designing costs

Before selecting a billboard format, brands must choose the design and creative execution of the billboard which will ultimately determine what format they’re available to deploy. If the creative team decides to go with a creative execution that uses animations and movement, they’ll only be able to use digital billboards or digital mobile billboards. However, if the creative pieces take a simpler approach and only use still images, brands are fully capable of using any format that is optimal for the creative piece. Design and creative executions are very effective when advertisers use in-house graphic designers or outsource creative boutique or an advertising agency. Skilled graphic designers are experienced with billboard designs and will take into consideration the angle of the billboard, location, lighting, the product being advertised, and the target audience.  

Production costs

Static billboards often have production fees that are associated with 1 foot of printing material. The more weather resistant material, the more expensive 1 foot of material will be to print. If you’re renting a digital or a digital mobile billboard there isn’t any production costs as there is no material to print.

Billboard suppliers

Once brands are at the stage to rent a billboard, they must contact a billboard supplier to negotiate rates for an optimum OOH buy. Rate cards are used by billboard suppliers to show potential customers what their standard billboard rates are before applying discounts. Rate cards are generally not publicly disclosed and must be obtained through directly contacting billboard suppliers.

Woman with sunglasses depicted on a billboard in downtown Los Angeles.

Factors to look out for

Canada is host to a wide variety of unpleasant weather phenomena that can negatively impact the value of billboards. Vancouver receives the highest amount of precipitation among all other major Canadian cities. Vancouver has even been documented to have 30-day rain showers. The overwhelming amount of rain impacts the quality of billboards and hinders their visibility. It’s a smart investment to make sure your billboard is equipped with lights to illuminate your billboard to mitigate visibility loss during heavy rainfall.

Besides rainfall, advertisers should be cautious of the cold weather Canada experiences during the autumn and winter months. The combination of rainfall followed up by cold temperatures is the bane of tri-vision billboards. The prisms freeze in place after being rained on and exposed to cold weather, disabling it from rotating.

Time of year

Keep a close eye on the calendar when strategizing the duration of how long you’ll rent a billboard for. Canada and the city of Vancouver celebrate a variety of holidays throughout the year that alter consumer behaviour. Some holidays stimulate consumers behaviour, while others stunt it. It’s crucial to be aware of this as holidays like Christmas that stimulate consumer behaviour will cause the total cost of putting up a billboard to increase.

Religious holidays and rituals that keep followers inside, like Shabbat, stunt consumer behaviour, lowering the traffic the billboards will receive while also slightly decreasing the cost to rent a billboard.

Calendar with days of the week highlighted with a yellow highlighter.

Conclusion

Despite Vancouver having a population not even half the size of Toronto, it’s still a billboard hotspot due to the massive flow of visitors that cause an increase in the volume of traffic Vancouver billboards receive. Overall, advertisers should expect to pay the same price as other Canadian major cities when planning to rent a billboard in Vancouver.

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