Billboards 101

I’m always surprised when I drive down the road and see some of these amazing billboards that (usually) local companies create to share their message. Beautiful artwork, muted colors, fancy fonts…some of them even look like they were taken directly from the page of a magazine! One small problem: YOU CAN’T READ THEM!

There is no question that billboard advertising can be effective. Billboards have been around since the 18th century and the first billboards in the United States were in the late 1860s.

It has been determined that 98% of the population spends a significant amount of time in the car each week, passing by these billboards. And a 2013 Arbitron advertising study found that 84% of us remember the ads that we see, which is an 18% increase from a 2009 study. Billboards are also cost effective, sometimes with a rate as low as $.02 per vehicle.

However, billboards are completely useless if no one can read them!

Passengers in the average vehicle have three to five seconds to read your message as they are driving by. Busy images, hard-to-read fonts, and even having too many words will guarantee that your message will not be as effective as it could be.

Here is the KEY: Keep the message simple, using as little as six words. Use high contrast between the font color and the background color. Make the letters large and use a font that is easy to read, making sure the letter spacing is wide enough so that the letters don’t blend into each other.

Sometimes the use of unusual images or even extending images beyond the borders of the board can also be very effective and will catch people’s attention. But they can also be very expensive to create. Simple and straightforward can be just as effective.

About 16% of people that pass by billboards say they don’t notice them. But studies have shown that even though the message is not consciously seen, it still can register on an unconscious level. And the familiarity of day-to-day driving by the same ad actually makes us be more favorable toward the product simply by repeated exposure. Plus, if you can trigger an emotional response with your message, you’re sure to win over more customers.

Consider advertising on billboards. But don’t go into it without having some design knowledge that helps you make the most effective use of this advertising medium.

Let Infinity Concepts help you with your next outdoor campaign!

Paul McDonald

Paul McDonald

Media Director at Infinity Concepts
Paul negotiates and coordinates all media buys and provides related reporting and analysis.
Paul McDonald

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