How Much Does it Cost for a Billboard Ad?

billboard ad

So you’ve decided to showcase your latest marketing campaign using a billboard. You have an exciting new product, already know your target market and now you just need to know the cost. 

Billboard ads have been around for decades and are still considered one of the most effective and cost efficient marketing solutions in the world. A billboard is a smart investment if properly planned. Whether you’re a small to medium size business or a large corporation, a billboard ad can increase your sales and raise brand awareness.

Investing in outdoor advertising means sending your message to thousands of potential consumers every day. Also, billboard advertising, unlike other forms of advertising, cannot be turned off and provides your business with unlimited exposure. 

According to 2018 research from the Nielson Norman Group, mobile and desktop users have trained their eyes to dodge internet ads as they navigate their devices. Billboards however, guarantee an audience because they can’t be ignored.

billboard ad

What are the costs?

With so many types of outdoor advertising and billboard options to consider, there are no set costs of a billboard ad. There are several variables that can affect the cost of a billboard; these include size, format, location and duration of the ad. Let’s dig deeper to understand how these factors impact the overall pricing.

The size of the advert

The size of the billboard will definitely have an impact on the cost. As a rule of thumb: the larger the billboard ad, the higher the cost. Needless to say, a bigger billboard ad is more likely to be seen by consumers, increase brand recall and boost the number of impressions. 

In addition, bigger billboard ads require more material, increasing the production costs for printing and placement. If the billboard structure is upgraded to being digital or extra large, then the cost to advertise on it will be higher. If you pay attention the next time you’re driving, the billboards that catch your attention the most are usually the more expensive ones.

Location, location, location

Anyone who has ever been house hunting has heard the adage “the three most important things to pay attention to are location, location, location.” Billboard costs vary based on location very much the same way home prices do.

For any outdoor advertising campaign to be successful, the billboard will need to be placed in high traffic areas that will maximize your reach; thus the higher the traffic, the higher the cost. The cost of a billboard ad will be more in a larger metropolitan city as compared to a smaller rural market.

Here are some examples of billboard pricing in various major U.S cities.

  • In Dallas, the cost of a billboard ad is anywhere between $6000 -$14,400 for a 4 week period.
  • In Los Angeles, billboard pricing ranges anywhere between $8,200 -$19,000 for a 4 week period.
  • In Ohio, cost of a billboard ranges $2,500-$6,500 for a 4 week period.

Billboard location is everything. As such, premium locations demand a premium price.

marketing budget

The importance of visibility

Visibility of the ad is another component that is vital in determining cost.  As a general rule, the closer the billboard is to the road, the higher the visibility, and thus, the higher the price. On the contrary, if the billboard is located further from the road, the cost is comparatively less expensive. 

Duration of your campaign

Running a long-term campaign is beneficial and the longer the duration of your OOH campaign, the less it will cost you per month. How does that work? 

Suppose your company found the perfect location to publish its latest outdoor advertising campaign. Based on all the different factors, it usually costs a certain amount per month to publish your ad on the spot. However, if you publish the ad for 12 months, it may cost you up to 25% less. These prices change from one billboard to another.  This is definitely one of the factors to consider when determining the cost of a billboard ad. 

Long-term campaigns also mean greater exposure, which leads to your product or service staying in the minds of consumers longer.

Timing

If you have a small marketing budget and are looking for a deal, then be ready to start as soon as possible. It might not seem like it to you, but to billboard companies, space on a billboard is a perishable good. If they don’t sell the space in a specific month, they’re going to incur a loss. So if you want to start next summer, there’s less incentive to book it because it’s likely to be booked by another advertiser at full rate. However, if you’re looking to start your campaign tomorrow, then you’re very likely get a deal.

The season

The season during which your advertisement is running is another factor that is relevant in determining the cost. This is because the price of the billboard space includes protection insurance against storms and other situations that could damage your billboard ad. When insurance is included, the cost will be higher but will protect your investment in the long run. 

The cost of a billboard ad can also rise at different times of the year and during certain holidays. For example Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s day and Father’s day. 

Additional costs

Besides the costs mentioned above, there are some additional expenses that advertisers should keep in mind; design and construction. The cost of designing a billboard ad, both digital and traditional, and the cost of construction influence the price of billboard advertising.

The production of billboards depends heavily on format and construction, and can range from $300-500 for a standard vinyl board.

The cost of designing depends on the size of the billboard as well as the design requirements and can range from $150-$1000.  Large companies usually have their own design teams while smaller companies use in-house designers or will need to hire a designer for the job. 

The Benefits

Billboard advertising offers some major benefits that distinguish it from other forms of advertising:

  • Repeated exposure opportunities are significant. For instance, someone entering a downtown area for work could see your message on a daily basis.

  • Even though the total cost of a billboard ad seems high, the efficiency of billboard ads is also very high because the cost per exposure relative is much lower as compared to other media.

  • You have the option to select billboards located near your target demographic.

  • Billboards typically do not come down at night, so your message has complete around-the-clock exposure.

Billboard close to highway

Let’s explore a few of these benefits in greater detail:

Reach a large audience

A billboard ad can have a significantly larger reach than other forms of advertising. If your billboard is located near a highway or a busy intersection in a city’s downtown core, your potential audience is everyone who drives by or walks by. If you choose a commuter route to place your billboard, it will be seen regularly by your audience. This increases the number of times people see your ad and may help consolidate your message in the minds of consumers. 

Target a specific audience

The location of a billboard ad is usually chosen based on its geographical position. This allows you to target audiences in a specific location, and if your billboard ad is catchy and engaging, it will encourage consumers to act upon it. For example, if drivers see an enormous McDonald’s billboard situated near a highway, they are likely to take the exit if they are looking for a place to eat. 

High returns at a lower cost

Outdoor advertising can help your business reach a large audience and can potentially give you higher returns at a lower cost.  According to Outdoor Advertising Association of America, outdoor advertising campaigns cost an average of $3.38 to $8.65 per 1,000 impressions, or CPM.  Other types of media have a higher cost. OAAA estimates that online advertising has a CPM average of $17.50 and broadcast media of up to $25. 

which billboad option should you choose

Should you go digital or traditional?

In today’s digital era, it’s natural to assume that digital billboards are superior to traditional billboards. However, both formats offer different advantages and there are multiple factors to consider when deciding between the two. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of both types of billboards.  

Digital billboards are catchier and more attention grabbing due to their lights, flashy colours and animated images. If the goal of your marketing campaign is to reach a mass audience, then digital billboards are a great option. This is because they are usually located in areas around cities that receive the highest traffic and thus, deliver the highest number of impressions. Digital billboards typically cost around $3,000/month in smaller cities and can go up to $10,000/month in major metropolitan ones. 

However, when you advertise on a digital billboard, you will be sharing screen time with as many as five other brands. This will result in your ad only receiving 10 seconds of air time per minute and you will have to compete with other brands. Therefore, a digital billboard may not be the best solution if your purpose is to build brand awareness for your product. 

Traditional billboards on the other hand are more exclusive. Your ad is the only one on the billboard for a specific duration which means you can achieve maximum exposure within the targeted location. So if your goal is to advertise a new product or market your message to a new demographic or audience, then traditional billboards are a better option. Traditional billboards can cost anywhere between $250-$550/month in rural areas and between $1,500-$4000/month in small to mid-size cities. 

The main thing to recognize is that digital billboards will cost you more, and with limited air time and brand exposure, you will have to determine whether you will receive an acceptable ROI.

Traditional billboards will be more cost-effective in the long run, but they also have their limitations.  For instance, if you are testing a new ad, you will not be able to make changes to a traditional billboard ad, but can make changes very quickly and easily to a digital billboard ad.

mobile billboard

Mobile Billboards

Another popular option of OOH advertising that advertisers should consider is Mobile billboards. If you are looking to gain maximum exposure, reach multiple target markets, and want a cost effective medium, then mobile billboard advertising is the way to go. 

With mobile billboards you can directly put your message in front of your audience, move it to different locations, as well as track the vehicle using GPS.

The cost of two outdoor mobile banners can range anywhere from $1200 to $1600. This will give you one banner for each side of the truck.  In addition, if you choose to contract with a mobile billboard service, the vehicle cost will range from $500 to $800.

If you own your own mobile billboard, then you’ll have to incur the price of fuel, hiring a driver and storage for your trucks when not in use.   

Final thoughts

With so many different billboards and sizes to choose from, it can be difficult and daunting to decide which is suitable for your marketing campaign. In most cases, it will depend on your marketing budget along with your campaign goal. 

To summarize, the cost of a billboard is dependent on three key factors which include location, visibility and duration. Understanding how these factors enter the pricing equation will help you make an informed decision about your next OOH campaign. 

Questions? Let’s talk about how Movia can help with your next outdoor advertising campaign!

Talk to a Mobile Billboard specialist today

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