Billboard Advertising? 3 things to consider

Billboard advertising – a classic outdoor advertising solution that can amplify your brand reach in really significant ways.

To make the most of this platform, it’s worth considering these 3 essential factors…

billboard advertising on a busy high street

What are your advertising goals?

When advertising your brand on a billboard, think about exactly what you want to get out of the ad. What are your goals? Write down a checklist of things you’d like to see as a result, for example:

  • More leads for your business
  • A boost in sales
  • Increased website traffic
  • More social media engagement

This will help you when you design your campaigns; if an element of your ad doesn’t work towards your stated goals then scrap it, it’s dead weight.

As well as having a clear idea about what you want to get out of your billboard ad, think about how you will measure the effectiveness of your ads. You could do this by having a hashtag, or landing page URL which is unique to your billboard. Having a QR (Quick Response) code or some kind of NFC tech associated with your billboard can also help you gain engagement data. Walkers’ Tweet to Eat campaign required audiences to tweet to the popular crisp brand to dispense free crisp packets. Not only was this a great marketing stunt, it gave Walkers an excellent way to measure the effectiveness of their outdoor ad.

Are you making the most of the billboard format?

Some people take out billboard ads because they are big and bold, and they assume that will naturally translate into making their ad more visible, more memorable, and more impactful.

Of course, all these things can be achieved by booking billboard ads, but they are not automatic; you have to consciously make them happen.

Each outdoor ad format serves a different function. There’s no hierarchy of effectiveness. Bus stop ads may seem unglamorous, but they offer an opportunity for deep audience engagement that’s unique to the format (as the Walkers example shows).

So what do billboards offer?

Billboard advertising allows for extremely wide exposure to a brand or product. A 2017 Nielsen study found that 38% of people recalled seeing a billboard in the past week, and 51% in the past month. Amongst adults aged 25-34, 71% of them recalled seeing a billboard in the past month.

The sheer size of billboards gives you a brilliant opportunity to paint your brand message with big strokes; but it doesn’t give you much chance for subtlety. Many roadside billboards are viewed fleetingly by moving traffic, so you only have a few seconds for your ad to make an impact…

Also, drivers need to pay attention to their driving, so they’re not going to be reading screeds of copy or decoding hidden messages. A billboard on a street doesn’t need to be read at 60mph, but people might not stop for long (or at all), particularly in a busy area.

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This RNIB/ Specsavers ad plays on the readability of its slogan to convey the message that people should get regular eye tests for a range of reasons other than failing eyesight. Notice that the billboard is very simple, has a clear message (“you need an eye test”) and isn’t cluttered with unnecessary details; it simply lists a web address and includes the RNIB and Specsavers logos. The white-on-blue copy has a medical aesthetic; every aspect of this very simple design has been carefully considered and selected for maximum impact. For more on how to design the perfect creative, check out our handy guide to designing a billboard.

Is your brand identity top notch?

So much of effective advertising is about personality, aka “brand identity”. Very few brands offer a totally new experience that audiences can’t get anywhere else, it’s often about the small differences… and this needs to be conveyed by the personality of your brand.

Your brand ID emerges out of a deep understanding of exactly what pain points you help solve for audiences, and what lifestyle needs you meet.

Virgin Trains have a fun, upbeat brand identity. This billboard encourages car drivers, frustrated by gridlock, to take the train instead. Taking the train rather then driving is not a particularly world-changing proposition that no one’s considered before, and Virgin certainly aren’t the only train provider who can solve this problem. But they have a quirky message, a bold and eye-grabbing aesthetic, and have devoted a lot of energy to presenting themselves as an “affordable luxury” travel provider with lots of personality.

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Virgin’s branding is always top notch, and they have consistent messaging across all their services, with slogans like “fly like an exec, pay like a temp” (Virgin America).

Bear in mind that lots of successful brands work with ad agencies to make sure their branding is firing on all cylinders. If you can’t afford to hire an agency, then reach out to a designer with experience in corporate branding. Discuss with them your brand identity and ethos, and what you want to get out of your campaigns. Think about how each element of your billboard design can convey something about your company. For more advice on billboard advertising, check out our post on how to write a killer billboard slogan.

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