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.

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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.

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Comments (134)

  1. said on

    My company has created a new product that we want to get out to the public this spring and we’re thinking of billboards as well as social media to get people’s awareness. We will have a seperate product website that people will be able to go to specifically for our new product and buy it right there as we slowly work our way into box stores. We are looking to get the best buzz for our dollar. Any help is appreciated.

  2. Scott Dilley said on

    Hello Marc,
    I am in the process of creating a simple website for a public announcement concerning a driving matter that can be used all over the country, maybe the world but I am not aware of their signs or laws and to be honest I am just starting off but was told by my lawyer that even he would be interested to advertise on billboards in his area of NJ and NY. I do not have the know how of how much I can charge for billboard advertisement and am in need of that cost and what makes it so much? I am guessing the visibility and how many see it is why it would cost so much? If you need more in depth about the site name I’d rather not discuss it here as it has not been created yet.

    • said on

      Hi Scott, Generally speaking the number of people that see the billboard and the market in which the billboard appear (ie metro NYC or Southern Jersey) will drive costs. However, there will be other factors such as seasonality, size of buy, commitment which will drive costs. My suggestion is that you talk to the three major billboard companies (Lamar, Outfront, Clear Channel) and get pricing from all of them. Good Luck, Marc

  3. Jon S said on

    I live in Lexington ky. The only company i know of who does billboard ads is lamar. I only need one week with a picture and some writing on a billboard. Who would i contact and how much would it cost?

  4. Tamika said on

    Hi I wanted to do a billboard in tacoma Washington for a missing child how much would a billboard cost to advertise on?

  5. Mimi said on

    Hi Marc,

    I live in Houston and I am considering becoming a landowner. I have obtained clear channel rate card but still not sure how to determine what a fair ground rent should be. How do I determine the net revenue from the sign? Thanks

    • said on

      Hi Mimi, There are two fundamental questions that need to be answerd. How much traffic will be passing buy the sign? There is an organization that actually puts these number together. I would contact them for assistance on this question. Secondarily, once you have approximate traffic numbers, I would go to the Lamar and Clear Channel sites to see their pricing for billboards in your area. I know clear channel with the pricing gives the number of expected views. That way you can back into a price per view and calculate the approximate “retail” rate for your sign. However, if you decided to let a major billboard company do the selling I would expect around 1/3 to half of the retail price. Good luck, Marc

  6. said on

    We have a 5 1/2’tall x 9’wide video board right on the hwy in front of 100,000.+ people per day. What should we charge for scrolling advertising 6-7 seconds each 20 times per day or so…

    • said on

      Hi Matt, You should check out what the competition is charging. In some earlier comments, I give links to where the major billboard companies list there prices. You will be able to find out the going rate for your area based on the amount of traffic that passes your billboard. Good luck, Marc

    • said on

      Hi Jason, cost per impression is going to vary on the location of the sign (ie, Chicago, Atlanta, etc) and size of the billboard. Three common billboard sizes is junior poster, poster, and bulletin, from smallest to largest. In Atlanta is around $3 per thousand views for a bulletin, around $2 for poster, and around $1 for a junior poster. However,the CPM costs will vary greatly by market. In Baltimore, it will run around $4.50 a CPM for a poster size billboard or more than twice the price as Atlanta. Good Luck, Marc

  7. Gene said on

    Can you expand on digital billboards? Specifically, how are ads uploaded to the billboard? Does the ad space purchaser have direct control of the content and can it be updated at anytime as long as the advertising time is paid for?

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