How Much Does Billboard Advertising Cost?

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baloonIn my last article we continued our series on offline marketing, with a look at using coupons to market your business.  In today’s article we are going to continue that series with a look at how much billboard advertising costs.

How much does having a billboard ad cost?

One of the largest billboard companies is Lamar Advertising. A bulletin billboard is the largest standard size billboard they offer, typically measuring 14 feet x 48 feet. Here are the costs for renting a bulletin billboard for 4 weeks:

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico (adult population 680,00)

Cost Per Billboard: $1,200 per billboard (rate for the purchase 7 billboards)

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan  (adult population 268,000)

Cost Per Billboard: $1,500 per billboard (rate for the purchase 3 billboards)

Location: Atlanta, Georgia (adult population 4,762,000)

Cost Per Billboard: $2,500 per billboard (rate for the purchase 28 billboards)

If you wanted to buy billboard advertising in Atlanta, Georgia for a year, the annual cost would be the (number of months) times (the minimum number of billboards) times (the cost per billboard).

12 x 28 x $2,500 =  $840,000

For a smaller market, like Ann Arbor, the cost would be much less:

12 x 3 x $1,500 = $54,000

The numbers above were taken from the Lamar Advertising website in August 2013

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Will it cost less if you buy a digital billboard or rotary billboard which is shared with other advertisers?

The short answer is not necessarily. Digital billboards and rotary billboards are generally placed in high traffic areas like highways. Since billboards are priced on how many people see your advertisement, being one of several advertisers on a digital or rotary billboard may get your ads more eyeballs than a billboard in a less high traffic location.

Will the size of the billboard impact the price?

Yes, but you’re not paying for the size.

Larger size billboards tend to be built in higher traffic areas, can be seen from farther away, and tend attract more attention. All these factors are taken into consideration in figuring out how many people are likely to look at a billboard. Pricing for billboards is highly dependent on the number of locally based adults that look at the billboard. This number is called in-market impressions. The term impressions (in the context of OOH advertising) means the number of people to actually likely to look at a billboard. Daily effective circulation (DEC) refers the number of adults that pass by a billboard and could potentially see the ad. If a billboard salesperson is talking about DEC and not in-market impressions, I would be very careful about buying what they are offering.

For a very informational and useful set of definitions related to billboard advertising, visit the glossary section on Traffic Audit Bureau website. Also, the site has a Market Locator tool that enables you to find local billboard advertising opportunities from the biggest firms like: CBS Outdoor, Clear Channel Outdoor, and Lamar Advertising.

What are the standard size billboards for sale? (sizes will vary by company)

  • Bulletin – The largest size billboard. They range in size from 10’ High x 30’ Long to  14’ High x 48’ Long
  • Poster / 30 Sheet Poster- A medium size billboard, typically 10’5” High x 22’5 Long
  • Junior Poster / 8 Sheet Poster – The smallest billboard, typically around 5’ High x 11’ Long.
  • Digital Billboards – They come in a range of sizes.  The largest ones can be 20’ x 60’. Typically, a new ad will be displayed every 6 to 10 seconds.

How much does it cost to actually make the physical advertisement?

The production costs for making a billboard advertisement are relatively minimal. Printing an advertisement on vinyl for a bulletin billboard (almost 700 square feet of material) will cost around $500. To ballpark production costs per billboard, take the area of the billboard in square feet and multiply it by $0.80.  If you’re printing on paper instead vinyl (requirement will be provided by billboard company), the production costs will be from $50 to $100 per billboard. There will also be costs to designing the billboard. Budgeting $500 to $1,000 for billboard design would be wise. Where in most cases Fit Small Business recommends hiring a designer from a freelancer site, this is a case where you definitely want a designer with extensive experience creating billboard ads.

That’s our article for today.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.  Also be sure to read the next article in our offline marketing series where we discuss how to network for business on limited time.

More Ways To Advertise

Advertising with Coupons
Facebook Advertising
Radio Advertising
Direct Mail
Newspaper Ads

Comments (148)

  1. Kathy said on

    Thank you for the excellent article. I am wondering how you can find out the potential viewing in an area. we are located in a very rural community with low population density but moderate traffic volume due to being a gateway to a vacation area. My business is located on a main highway in a small downtown community I am researching the use of a digital marquee to sell advertising and how to figure out the amount to charge potential advertisers. thanks

  2. said on


    I live in Berlin, Germany. I have started a project called LED MOBILE OUTDOOR VIDEO ADVERTISING. I have information that this method of advertising has huge success in the USA. I hope that I will soon be able to make this a success in Germany too! I would be greatful if you could spend the time to share your opinion on this. A link to find more information about this project can be found here:

    thank you

    • said on

      Hi Tosh, My knowledge about digital billboards is limited. Instead of one advertiser having the billboard 100% of the time, the ads are rotated amount as many as 10 advertisers. My sense is the billboard companies make much more many with the digital billboards. However, it may also be good for advertisers as they don’t over expose there ad to person driving by the billboard 20+ time per month. Good Luck, Marc

  3. Todd J. said on

    hi marc! Is there any insight you can give me about actually owning a billboard or starting a billboard company??
    Thanks man

  4. Lost Students said on

    Hello Marc, I have a hypothetical project, and my partner and I are interested in how much a billboard would cost for advertising our hypothetical product.
    we greatly appreciate your time and effort.
    -Lost Students.

  5. Daniel Nelson said on

    Sales manager of a local small town car dealership family owned! Was thinking about doing something to brand myself with the store… What are your thoughts on a billboard and what kind of money is to much? Little town not a big city at all?

    • said on

      Daniel, I have definitely seen many car dealerships use billboard advertising. The people driving buy billboards have a care, right? Two of the major billboard companies publicly share their pricing. Scroll down in the comments and you should see links. However, the real question is how many new sales (revenues) do you think a billboard with generate? Do you have a particular offer or is there a new model that you think will generate interest in visiting your dealership? Good luck, Marc

  6. said on

    I’m on a short time frame attempting to place a billboard ad prior to Mother’s Day for a book. Any thoughts on how best and affordably this might be done? Thanks.

    • said on

      I don’t know the turnaround time on billboard advertising. The billboard has to be available for advertising, you need to get the billboard ad created and printed, and my guess that most difficult part from a timing perspective is that the billboard company has to send a team to install the advertisement. The issue of installation doesn’t come up around digital billboard which your add rotates (you share time) with other advertisers. I would contact Lamar, Outfront, and Clear Channel about digital billboards.Good Luck, Marc

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