How Much Does it Cost to Use a Billboard?

There are so many answers to this question that you need to follow several steps before getting the answer you want. First, you must determine what is best for your brand, secondly, make an advertising plan, and finally, implement it. Of course, there are preparations to be made first. I know it sounds like a long process, and it is. However, it’s not as bad as you may think.

When you advertise, it’s for a purpose, whether to increase sales, subscriptions or raise awareness. In any of these cases, you want a return on your investment (ROI), so you might as well do everything you can to make it a success.


Billboard Advertising rende by McDonalds


Your Product

What do you want to get out there? Food? Clothing? Shoes? Who are you selling to? All these elements will help you in your decision-making process. It’s actually where it all begins. Not all products require you to go all out to sell them. Sometimes, just a little promotion on the internet or a simple car wrap will do. So, does your product require using billboard advertising? Once you are confident that you need to include billboards in your advertising campaign, you will have to decide how to use it while considering the costs and all other factors that may come up during the process.

Advertising Options and Costs

When we talk about OOH in general, there are many options as well, but if we narrow our choices to billboards alone, we’re faced with three choices. Static billboards, digital billboards and mobile billboards.

  • Static Billboards: It’s vinyl or paper glued on a billboard and the prices depend on the size and length of the campaign. The cost varies from $250 to $10,000 per month according to the location. Three factors determine the cost of renting a billboard: circulation, demographics, and impressions . These factors are important because they affect the cost per thousand impressions (CPM). The smallest cost is for billboard ads placed in rural areas. In small and midsize cities, you’d spend $1,500 to $4,000, but in big cities, you may spend $14,000 or more. In Rapid Cedar, Iowa, for example, the cost varies from $550 to $4,000 per month, and the adult population is approximately 209,658. In Los Angeles, California however, prices go from $1,000 to $10,000 because it’s a big city with approximately 10,451,934 adults.
a static Billboard advertising Dunkin' Donuts


  • Digital Billboards: Digital billboards are usually more expensive than static billboards; that’s a fact. But then again, it may be the option that fits your needs, so don’t skip it just yet. The rate range for digital billboards is $1,000 to $15,000. I’ll use the example of Cedar Rapids, IA ($2,100 – $3,500 per month) versus Los Angeles, CA ($6,000 – $15,000 per month) one more time, to illustrate the difference between rates for small and big cities. See the gap between static and digital billboards for the same cities? Of course, there are reasons for it, one being that digital billboards require energy to work.


digital Billboards for SickKids


  • Mobile Billboards: mobile billboards refer to trucks speciaclly designed to carry a billboard or a car or a bycicle with a billboard attached to it. Putting your ads on moving vehicles is an excellent way to attract your audience’s attention, and the pricing isn’t bad either. It ranges anywhere between $500 and $800 per day. Factors affecting these rates are the same as those mentioned earlier, but there is also the type of car you want to attach your ads to. Delivery car? Taxis? Delivery bycicles? Then the costs will include rental fees fixed by the company as well.
  • Truck-Side Advertising: it’s almost similar to mobile advertising except, you put up your ad on the side of a truck that is used for transportation and delivery of goods. Again, you’ll have to dicsuss rental costs with the truck owner, unless you hire a company playing the role of middle man who will deal with all the details. But let me give you a preview. Say you decide to go for a truck wrap. Of course, the bigger the truck, the higher the rate. Then, you’ll have to determine the length of the rental. The minimum length changes from one company to another. While one company requires a week, another might require two weeks or even four. Finally, there is the travel distance and area to determine, as well as the number of trucks you want your ads to appear on. All these details should be discussed with the advertising company to find the right match for you.


Example of truck-side  Advertising

Pros and Cons

Each one of these options has its pros and cons. Cost wise, mobile billboards are the better option, but when it comes to the number of impressions, it’s hard to tell which one is best. It all depends on the location. The more populated it is, the more you’ll pay. But let’s discuss the other aspects. When renting a digital billboard, for example, you may have to share your space with another brand. Let’s say you’re sharing the board with five other brands and the maximum time you have is 10 seconds. Your target will see your ad for only 10 seconds every minute. That’s a lot of impressions you’re losing. But if you’re renting the whole board, it gives you room for more creativity and communication. You get to tell your audience more about your product and its features. It’ll just cost you a lot of money. 

Traditional billboards are fixed and impossible to move. If you want to advertise in another area, it’s either you run your ad on another billboard, or you rent several billboards at the same time. Doing the latter is costly, and you risk exceeding your budget. Plus, the best billboard locations are usually rented months in advance, making it difficult to find what you want. Mobile billboards, on the other hand, make it possible to advertise at more than one location. As the truck moves throughout the city, you’re sure to secure as many impressions as possible from both pedestrians and drivers. And you don’t have to worry about availability either.

Unlike TV and radio, billboards don’t require continuous planning. Once they’re up, your work is done. All you have to do is wait for the impressions to pile up and collect your ROI. Also, it’s not timed, meaning there isn’t a specific time of the day when your ad is supposed to run. As long as your audience passes by or drives by your ad, it’s there for them to see. Billboards also offer you the possibility to advertise at strategic locations, which we will discuss more later. Another good thing about this advertising method is, the creative capacities are unlimited. You can use it in any way possible to present your product and its features.


creative Billboard showing product feature


Lastly, billboard advertisement is cost effective when you compare the expenses and the results. Truckside advertising, for example, has been proved to increase sales by 107%. And while 37% of people ignore TV ads, 98% of passerby notice truckside ads.

Location, Location

Yes, you have only three types of billboards to choose from, but you have way more choices in terms of where you want them. In the streets alone, you have hundreds of places to consider. You can look into bridge ads, transit ads, or lamp post banners and more. But really, the most important when choosing your billboard location is traffic speed, proximity of the sign to the road, and traveller destination. Roads with low-speed limit and a higher probability of traffic are the best location for a billboard. Drivers and their passengers then have more time to read and comprehend it. You also want a billboard that is as close to the road as possible, so your audience doesn’t have a hard time reading it. It will also catch their attention more easily. Regarding traveller destination, you want to make sure that if your business is local, for example, you advertise it on a road used by locals.

There is more to think about in terms of location, including specific places you want your ad to be.

  • Near your business: This reinforces what I said earlier about traveller destination. Sometimes, you don’t need to advertise in areas with big crowds, but you want your ad to be useful to your target audience. Putting it up near your business can help them find you even when they’re not looking for you. 


  • Airports: Airports are a great location to consider when doing targeted advertising. You can advertise hotels, touristic sites and vacation locations. Most people indeed book their hotels before travelling, but there are those with unexpected plan changes too. Let’s say someone missed their connecting flight and they will have to spend over 20 hours in the city. Seeing your ad, may trigger them to choose to go to a hotel instead of staying at the airport, and guess which hotel that person is most likely to choose? Also, a study conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK found that 85% of passengers enjoy airport advertising and are curious about the products they see in those ads. That same study found that 85% of air travellers think about booking their next trip at the airport while 65% of arriving passengers do the same. Airports advertising sounds more attractive now, doesn’t it?


airport billboard Advertising


  • Shopping malls: Just like airport advertising, advertising at the shopping mall is also targeted. People going there already have the mindset of shopping, so you’re halfway there. All you need to do now is use incredible visuals to grab their attention and spike their curiosity. Brands usually go digital in this case, but there is the possibility to go traditional as well. It depends on the potential of your creatives because some of the best creative works in mall advertising aren’t digital anyway. It’s also very effective in terms of return on investment. A research conducted in 9 malls found that targeted digital OOH ran in malls increase sales considerably. The results for Aldo showed an 11% increase in sales after two weeks and a 16% increase in sales for Pandora in the same amount of time. It’s definitely worth considering. 


shopping Mall digital billboard Advertising


As for the costs, it all depends on the market. For shopping malls, it ranges from $75 to $10,000 per 4 weeks period, while in airports, it ranges from $3,500 to $30,000 per ads per week.

So What Now?

By now, you should have an idea of what’s best for your business and your budget. Just bear in mind that as much as billboard advertising is effective, you have to bring great content to the table to get positive results. You’re guaranteed to get impressions, but how your audience will react is mostly based on your creative content. Now is the time to think about other practical aspects of billboard advertising as well. Are you renting? Are you building your billboard? For any of these choices, know that you will still spend a lot of money. In the long run, owning a billboard is cost-effective, but you’ll be stuck to advertising in that location exclusively. Renting will be costly, but at least you’ll have the freedom of moving around and being present in different markets.






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