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 (160)

  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

      • Maxwell Wood said on

        I wonder if the fact that it is digital could be positive in ways other than the Tab Rating. If I am traveling and looking for a restaurant to stop at, I am more likely to stop at a place with a newer looking, clean billboard (except maybe for bbq, grandma’s cooking, and other homey places). So perhaps a digital billboard might increase the likelihood I go there due to the fact it shows the place must be doing well and I am more likely for the place to be clean and have good food. Same thing for other services. It may depend on the quality of the sign as some of the digital ones look pixelated and cheap.

        • said on

          Hi Maxwell, I have not seen any data about the relative effectiveness of digital vs traditional billboard. Personally, I find the images on traditional billboards sharper than the digital ones. However, you raise an interesting question . . do people associate digital billboard with premium brands? Would anyone like to share their thoughts on this? – Marc

          • Alma said on

            I want to know how many feet should be the digital billboard from the freeway ? because there is one so close to the freeway and is very bright,(owned by a dealership) and I believe this is very distracted for drivers.

          • said on

            Hi Alma, My understanding is that local laws (city, county, and state) place restrictions on the placement of billboards. I would start by making an inquiry with your county government regarding the municipalities laws on the placement of billboards and who is in charge of enforcing them. 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

    • said on

      Hi Dee, There are two ways to answer your question. You cannot use a person’s image in promotional material without getting their permission.(There some limited exceptions to this general rule.) I don’t know of any restriction on putting a person’s face or name on a billboard, however, I would check with your county and the local companies that sell billboard advertising about this. Good luck, Marc

  7. Jean said on

    Hi Marc,

    I own a property along a small highway. A business owner recently approached me and asked if he could put a small billboard/sign up a long the side of the road. Would you be able to help me out with the price I should be asking for. Since it’s going up on three posts that don’t currently exist, it will be somewhat permanent so is it right to ask for an annual cost so I don’t have to be committed to having it there forever.

    Thank you for your insight,


    • said on

      Hi Jean, Have you checked with your county / local government about regulations regarding putting up billboards? I wouldn’t assume that you can do it without getting a permit and keeping within certain regulations. Assuming that you have gone through this process, the price of the billboard is going to depend on the traffic passing the billboard, the billboard size, if its lite at night and local marketing advertising conditions. In other words, it could be as little as $300 per month or as much as $5,000 per month depending on the answers to these questions. Good Luck, Marc

  8. Nino said on

    Hi Marc, I have the side of my small rental property that will be great for anyone to advertise there add. It is safe the side of the build is made of bricks and very visible by traffic, pedestrians and the long island railroad. Please advice any suggestions, the wall is about 40 x 40 . Thank you.

    • said on

      Hi Nino, I would first find out about zoning regulations. I might contact Clear Channel or Outfront Media and see if they are interested in representing you. Even if you decide not to have them sell on your behalf, they will be able to help you figure out if having a billboard or banner on your building is legal. Good Luck, Marc

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