Why Billboard Advertising Still Works in a Digital World

As we know, internet ads prevail in a marketing mix because they tap into an online user’s web behavior, their patterns, and their most visited pages. Digital ads apply to everyone on the internet, as they’re proportionately dispersed across webpages for people to see and interact with. Though internet advertising is utterly a cash cow for brands on digital, billboard advertising is on the rise and out-of-home spending is skyrocketing. In 2018, spending on outdoor advertising was projected to reach about $38 billion, which was up by 35 percent since 2010. Out-of-home advertising has been the conquistador of non-internet media, such as television.

Since digital advertising is completely commonplace, and very easy to avoid with extensions like Ad Blocker, an older format is resurfacing: billboards. This original out-of-home advertising channel is reaching mass audiences that use digital to their advantage, but invest in moments spent away from their tech. More recently, digital billboards allow advertisers to identify like-minded consumers and reach the best target. According to Jonathan Barnard, who’s head of forecasting at Zenith, he says, “Outdoor trading is getting more like internet trading” (Molla 2018), which is revealing of the partnership created between the two advertising channels.

This blog will demonstrate the reasons why billboards are steady appearing in our world despite effective internet advertising picking up on consumer behavior.


Billboard ads help identify like-minded consumers in a given geographic location


Why Billboards Are Making More Appearances

Due to the uncertainly of who exactly is seeing and clicking on internet ads, another medium must arise from the ashes and detect precise consumers. Billboards can be easily linked to our mobile phones, which are now capable of tracking impressions from people happening to pass an outdoor ad. Our digital footprints help ad buyers see where people are being affected by these advertisements. Location data helps track where demographics of people are and shows them ads that best cater to their direct routes. Online brands are even using outdoor billboards to generate more impressions from possible consumers.

One of the reasons why billboards make a great profit for advertisers and businesses is that they’re able to match digital advertising initiatives. With digital screen billboards, broadcasted messages can rotate and allows consumers to see a range of products they wouldn’t necessarily spend time looking at while online. Outdoor campaigns can be tailored at specific events to hit the best target. By finding out consumer data on mobile, billboards can be more targeted in specific areas to reach the minds of consumers with a clue.


With the right target in mind, billboards have the ability to lead people to purchase


How to Make Billboards Work

In order to stand out and ride solo from other advertising channels, a billboard must include a few factors that solidify its success.

The most effective billboards are strategically placed along routes that have the greatest impact on consumers. Taken from Effortless Outdoor Media, Cracker Barrel erected billboards along major highways near exits to their restaurants. Their call-to-action is for people to take the next exit to check out their business and have some food. Internet ads can’t perform the same action that these billboards can, because these billboards work perfectly in the environment they’re a part of. They exist in real life, and give substantial directions to drive business. Combined with other parts of their marketing strategy, Cracker Barrel saw that these billboards contributed to an annual growth rate of 10.4%.

Great billboards work because they’re able to be positioned in places where commuters frequent. Even though commuters are regularly on their phones during their route, they are impressionable to billboards circulating their familiar travel passages. These commuters can easily be tracked through data analytics, and the ROI on an out-of-home campaign will be calculated faster than that of an internet ad. As you can see, billboards work because of exposure, fast tracking, and thoroughly planned locations that help the advertiser’s business grow.


Billboards are instructional and can lead people to make a direct decision


Bringing Social Elements to Billboards

Everybody enjoys a good tweet, a powerful Facebook status, or any shareable online conversation, but how can that translate to billboard advertising? Well, billboards are fast becoming shareable enough for people to take as much interest in as they do a hilarious online forum. Billboards can take social media cues and regurgitate what works best in an outdoor environment. Digital conversations can be carried out in a given geographical space, depending on the content matter. Political conversations that may have only existed on social networks now appear on the sides of buildings in familiar places. Though these aren’t necessarily advertisements, and not backed by a larger corporation, they show just how billboards can adopt digital buzz and put it on blast in a larger sphere for consumers to participate in the conversation.


Social media can take form in a billboard that creates outdoor conversation


After looking at how billboards stand up against, and work with, internet advertising, it’s revealed that the marketing mix isn’t fully complete without an effective billboard. They can keep up with online trends and provide a quality outdoor experience for commuters, wanderers, fast walkers and fast talkers, and more. Though digital advertising is a successful channel, billboards are still winning.



Molla, Rani (25 September 2018). Billboards – yes, billboards – are having a heyday in a digital world. Recode Media. Retrieved from: https://www.recode.net/2018/9/25/17897656/billboards-outdoor-advertising-ads

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