How Much Does it Cost to Put Up a Billboard?

From driving out in the rural areas of Canada to the bustling streets of downtown Toronto, billboards are inescapable mediums that catch our eyes everywhere we go. We can’t click them away or skip a massive billboard after 5 seconds of viewing. Something so big and captivating must be ridiculously expensive to put up right?

The answer depends on a variety of factors that advertisers must examine before purchasing a billboard. To understand how much billboards cost to put up, let’s take a look at the factors advertisers must examine when deciding to purchase a billboard.

Where is the geo-location of the billboard?

The price difference between two billboards can be incredibly huge. Some billboards cost up to 6x more than others despite being exactly the same format and size. Often times the only difference between the two prices is the location of the billboard. Placing a billboard in rural Ontario vs the busiest intersection in Toronto will results in a huge difference of impressions. Because there are far more impression in downtown Toronto than rural Ontario, the cost of putting up a billboard will be increased as that area is more populous.

An example of how location can cause a drastic difference in the total price of a billboard is comparing Cedar Rapids to Los Angeles. Cedar rapids has a total population roughly over 200 thousand, Los Angeles has a total population of over 10 million people. The cost of a digital billboard rented per month in Cedar rapids is $2100-$3500. But the cost of renting one in Los Angeles is $6000-$15,000, having the minimum cost to rent already nearly double the amount of the maximum cost to rent per month in Cedar Rapids. Because location has such a heavy influence on the price of a billboard, advertisers must strategize in advance before selecting an area to put up a billboard.

Demographics

Another factor that impacts the cost to put up a billboard is the demographics who will be viewing your billboard. Advertisers today have tools to identify the age, gender, and household income (HHI) of people to determine how profitable it would be to put up a billboard. Thus making areas that are comprised of higher income earners more expensive than locations that are low-income.

Faded Coca-cola billboard.

Total impressions

Before selecting an area to put up a billboard, examining the total volume of traffic that passes by during the weekday and weekend will heavily impact how much the billboard will cost to rent per month. Placing a billboard isn’t as easy as selecting a major city and a frequency. There are areas of major cities that will be exposed to far higher volumes of traffic in comparison to other areas.  A billboard placed near public transit is going to receive far more impressions than a billboard that isn’t located near any subways, highways or streetcars.

Areas that are congested with traffic also play a role in determining the total price of a billboard, as congested locations cause viewers exposed to the billboard to view the ad longer than they typically would. The longer the impression views the ad, the stronger the likelihood of the exposed viewer recalling the advertisement.

Formatting impacts

Besides location, the formatting of a billboard is the next most influential factor that determines the cost of putting up a billboard. There’s a plethora of billboard sizes available for advertisers to take advantage of. Before brands deicide on the size of the billboard, brands must be aware that in Canada municipalities decide on what city locations are allowed billboards and the maximum size that’s allowed to be erected. This means there are areas within cities in Canada that are illegal to put up billboards of certain sized, or billboard in general.

Billboard size

Billboards that aren’t your gargantuan sized advertisements most likely fall into the category of a vertical or horizontal poster. One of Canada’s biggest out of home supplier, Astral Media measures vertical posters as 16′ H x 12′ W and horizontal posters as 10′ H x 20′ W. Posters are great for advertisers looking to utilize out of home advertising (OOH) with a budget that’s not as big as big name brands.

 The larger category of billboards that are hulking in size are known as “Super boards.”  Astral Media states that their super boards are 14′ H x 48′ W. Because of its sheer size, super boards are able to captivate far more impressions than their smaller alternatives. Brands who have large media budgets should take advantage of OOH locations with massive sized billboards.

Billboard with a bright sky blue background.

Billboard formats

Advertisers have the choice of 3 different billboard formats to display their OOH advertisement on. Each format has different costs associated and should be utilized after careful deliberation. The billboard formats that advertisers can select are static, trivision, and digital billboards. Before selecting a format, advertisers must determine which billboard format is optimal for their budget, audience, and the time of year.

Static billboards

These billboards are the most commonly seen billboard in Canada. They can be comprised of either wood, metal (Ranges in quality) or polyvinyl chloride. Wood is the cheapest material to create a billboard with, but isn’t weather resistant and is rather dull compared to other materials. Metal billboards have more luster and are more weather resistant than wood but will fade overtime. Polyvinyl chloride is the most optimal static billboard material as it’s the most weather resistant format and keeps its vibrancy over long periods of time.

Static billboards are the cheaper alternative to digital billboards, they can be priced between $250-$14,000 per month as opposed to digital billboards that can be found priced anywhere between $1200-$15,000. Static billboards are also more opportune in rural markets as areas outside of major cities often aren’t equipped to put up digital billboards.

Mobile billboard

An interesting approach to OOH advertising that has been incorporating new innovative technology to hyper target audiences is mobile billboards. These are delivery/hauler trucks that have an advertisement wrapped around the exterior of the truck, allowing it to be a mobile billboard. Prices for static trucks can range between $300-$1000 per truck/per day. Digital trucks are more expensive and can be found priced between $800 – $1800 per truck/per day, however advertisers must do their due-diligence and check to see if the location they’d like to advertise allows digital mobile billboards, some municipalities do not allow mobile billboards that are digital.

Digital billboards

The most expensive and versatile formatting option belongs to digital billboards. Digital billboards have been capturing driver’s and pedestrian’s attention with its flashy and colourful display and has been utilized by brands to message their target market with creative executions that static and trivision billboards just aren’t capable of deploying.  Digital billboards are the most innovative format, as they can play videos, stream live data, stream live camera footage, and play multiple ads. Due to how versatile digital billboards are, the digital format yields significantly more impressions compared to its static and trivision alternative.

Because digital billboards stand out as being the most eye-catching and versatile format, they’re priced far higher and are often times only available to big name brands with large advertising budgets.

Guy looking at bright billboards.

Trivision billboards

The most cost-efficient billboard format, Trivision billboards are often utilized by brands with smaller budgets who still want to have an OOH presence in the market.  Trivision billboards are comprised of prisms that rotate after every 7 seconds. When rotated on an angle that flattens the prism, it displays an advertisement.

Because trivision billboards are capable of displaying three separate ads, they are the most cost-effective format option. Advertisers can also negotiate if they wish to advertise on more than one side of a trivision billboard. This enables a company to advertise three separate brands or three individual advertisements from the same brand.

Designing fees

Although not as significant as location and formatting. The cost to create a design for your billboard still has an impact on the total cost of putting up a billboard. Designs & creative executions are made when advertisers use their own in-house graphic designers or outsource a professional design firm/creative boutique. The finished design often dictates the format advertisers need to use to execute their creative pieces. For example if the finished design of a billboard is a still image, advertisers can select static or trivision billboards. But if the finished design includes animations and videos, advertisers will have to pay for a digital billboard.

 Although paying a boutique or doing in-house creative work will cost $500-$1000, the creative direction will ultimately decide what format the billboard will be, which highlights how important the design is for determining how much it will cost to put up a billboard.

Production fees

Once advertisers are in the stage of printing out a billboard, there are a few choices associated with production that can increase or decrease the cost of putting up a billboard. As previously mentioned, static billboards can be built using one of three materials, wood, metal and polyvinyl chloride. Each material has a different price and will have a minor influence on the cost to put up a billboard. The most common and optimal material for static billboards is polyvinyl chloride and is priced at ¢50 per square foot.

Frequency

Another factor that has an influence on the cost to put up a billboard is the frequency of your OOH ad. The total duration of your OOH ad plays a significant role in determining the cost of a billboard as the longer the duration, the more you will be charged.

Advertisers must negotiate frequency with the billboard supplier they’re renting from as the supplier has control over the minimum and maximum amount of time you can rent a billboard. The average minimum amount of time that billboard suppliers will allow advertisers to rent billboards for is one month. Some hot spots have billboards that are under contract with brands for the entire year, which makes it hard to secure billboard spots in popular areas of major cities.

Depending on the format of the billboard, suppliers can offer advertisers unique duration of frequency if its optimal for the advertiser’s situation. Because digital billboard doesn’t require printing, attaching and removing a billboard, suppliers are able to allow frequencies less than one month. Advertisers even have the flexibility to set if the duration of their ad only runs during certain times of the day, allowing for more effective targeted messaging.

Bright billboards depicting different brands during pride month.

Time of year.

Throughout the year, Canada celebrates a variety of holidays that alter the consumer behaviour of its citizens. Some holidays slow it down, others increase it. Advertisers must keep an eye on the calendar and know when holidays, festivals and other events will happen around the year as they will alter both the volume of traffic and influence the cost of putting up a billboard. Weather also plays an important role in determining the cost of a billboard. Some formats are more vulnerable to extreme weather conditions like trivision billboards. After rain and freezing temperatures, trivision billboards are notorious for having their prisms freeze in position. Causing the trivision to be stuck on one slide, or even worse frozen while in rotation. This can cause a serious loss of ROI that could be avoided by checking the predicted weather report.

Conclusion

To summarize the answer to the question of how much it costs to put up a billboard in one word two words: it depends. There is so many factors that influence other factors and ultimately the final price of putting up a billboard. Brands can pay $1000 for one billboard and $1,000,000 on another depending on the choices you made while deciding on the perfect billboard for your advertising needs.

Talk to a Mobile Billboard specialist today

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