The cost of billboard advertising depends on format, circulation, demographics, and impressions. Physical billboard costs average $250 per month in rural areas, $1,500-$4,000 in small to midsize cities, and $14,000 and up in larger markets. Digital billboards can cost over $15,000, depending on the location.
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How Much Does a Billboard Cost?
Billboard advertising cost is determined by the billboard’s geographic market, out-of-home (OOH) rating, and whether it’s a physical vinyl or digital board. Physical billboards are generally less expensive than digital boards and cost between $250 per month and $14,000 or more, depending on the market. Digital billboards cost from $1,200 to over $15,000 per month.
Billboard Advertising Cost
|Physical Billboard Cost|
3 Factors That Affect Billboard Advertising Cost
Billboard advertising costs are referenced in cost per mille (CPM), or cost per thousand impressions, and are affected by circulation, demographics, and impressions. Together, these factors inform the billboard’s out-of-home (OOH) rating, as determined by Geopath, an audience location measurement tool.
A billboard’s OOH rating is based on three factors:
- Circulation: Circulation is the total volume of traffic that passes the billboard, as derived from transportation authorities. The circulation does not take into account whether passersby see your ad.
- Demographics: A billboard’s demographics are a breakout by age, gender, and income level of people who typically pass a billboard. Expect to pay more to advertise to people with higher income levels.
- Impressions: Impressions are the likely number of people who actually see the ad, based on the size of the billboard, visibility, the speed at which people are passing, and other factors. This is derived from the circulation and the location of the billboard.
Additional Billboard Advertising Costs to Keep in Mind
Aside from the factors mentioned above, there are two additional factors that influence billboard advertising pricing: the cost of designing an ad (both digital and physical) and the cost of building a physical one. Billboard production costs depend on format and construction, but generally range from $300 to $500 for a standard vinyl board. Design is also an important part of creating successful billboards, and hiring a design firm can cost from $150 to $1,000.
Billboard Construction Costs
Vinyl is the standard material used for physical billboard ads because of its weather resistance. In general, production costs for vinyl billboard ads are about 50 cents per square foot. Printing an advertisement on vinyl for a 14×48-foot bulletin billboard requires almost 700 square feet of material and will cost between $300 and $500.
Billboard Design Costs
The costs associated with designing a billboard typically range from $150 to $1,000. Billboard design differs from other advertising and graphic design, so choose a designer with extensive experience creating billboard ads. We put together a list of the five best billboard design companies where you can find our top recommendations.
Also, check out our billboard design tips to learn more about what to keep in mind when designing a billboard. For example, be sure to review how it will look from a distance—not just on a computer screen.
“When dealing with our larger corporate clients, their in-house designers usually provide the creative and we size to the precise dimensions. For smaller businesses, I strongly recommend having an agency design the creative. If you’re spending money on promoting your brand, you want to make sure that it’s done in the best, most effective, and most profitable way possible!”
– Will Davidson, Chief Executive Officer, Maxmedia Creates
Physical Billboard Benefits
Physical billboards have a lot of advantages over digital billboard advertising. Placement of physical billboard ads is widely available because the infrastructure has existed for several decades. Additionally, printed advertisements are not subject to glitches and power outages like digital billboards.
The benefits of physical billboards over digital billboards include:
- Less expensive than digital: In many geographic markets, traditional physical billboards are less expensive than digital. This makes leasing billboard space a better option for small businesses that want to stick to a smaller advertising budget.
- More existing inventory: Physical billboards have been around longer than digital billboards, so there is more inventory and infrastructure for this form of advertising.
- Not subject to glitches: Physical billboard advertising relies on static, printed images instead of light-emitting diodes like those used in digital billboards. For that reason, physical boards won’t fall victim to glitches and power outages, as can happen with digital.
Digital Billboard Costs & Benefits
A digital billboard displays images electronically that can be changed automatically at set intervals. Digital billboards are more dynamic, targeted, and flexible than traditional boards because the content can change every few seconds. Digital billboard advertising can cost from $1,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on the location.
Digital Billboard Cost by Market
|Digital Billboard Cost|
The benefits of digital billboards over traditional print billboards include:
- More dynamic content: With digital ads, you can have a moving image. This works to capture viewers’ attention far more than a traditional billboard. In fact, it’s estimated that digital billboards are six times more effective than traditional billboards.
- More targeted: By showing different ads during specific times of day, you can target consumers as their habits, needs, and circumstances change. For example, a billboard might showcase a restaurant deal during lunchtime or a transit program during an after-work commute.
- More flexible: Digital billboards let you make changes to your advertising copy and imagery at no additional cost. You can also stream live and user-generated content from your website and social media.
Who Billboard Advertising Is Right For
Billboard advertising works best for businesses boosting brand awareness or advertising specific store locations. Billboards located on highways that advertise local businesses are extremely actionable because the audience is already nearby. In addition, billboards are a great way to promote your brand if you don’t need immediate conversions.
Advertising a Nearby Business Location
Restaurants and shops often advertise next to the closest major highway. These ads are extremely effective as they give precise directions to their location, only minutes away from the billboard.
Chris Seferyn, who owns several restaurants, said that billboard advertising was the “best ad format that [he] has ever used.” This is not surprising because billboards typically work really well to get people to a restaurant right off the highway.
Boosting Brand Awareness
Many real estate agents, law firms, banks, plumbers, and HVAC services benefit from billboard advertising. The goal here is not to convert buyers on the spot, but to boost general awareness of their brand. If you’re trying to boost brand awareness, opt for a creative and memorable design that potential customers will remember.
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If you aren’t trying to boost brand awareness or advertise a nearby business, think twice about billboard advertising. With the exception of restaurants and physical shops, billboards are typically not very effective. This works if you just want to build name recognition and create buzz. However, if you want to generate more leads directly from an ad, consider advertising online via Facebook or another platform.
Additional questions to ask yourself when considering billboard advertising include:
- Does your product pass the eight-second rule? If you can’t make your pitch in eight seconds, then billboards are not for you. The stagnant nature of traditional billboards is also ineffective if your message requires interpretation.
- Is your product relevant to a mass audience? If your product is only relevant to 10% of the population, you’ll waste a lot of money on “unnecessary” billboard impressions. For example, a distributor of vegan food products likely only appeals to the 7% of Americans who identify as vegan.
With the exception of ads for restaurants and physical shops, billboard advertising is not typically effective at moving viewers to take action. However, if you simply want to build name recognition and generate buzz, a billboard can work. Alternatively, if you want to generate leads, consider a more direct approach like Facebook or Google advertising.
How to Choose Your Billboard Location
Billboard location is the most important consideration when choosing outdoor advertisement. Factors that influence the effectiveness of a billboard include traffic speed, proximity of the sign to the road, and traveler destination. If you decide that a billboard is right for your business, evaluate several locations before choosing the one that will target the most potential customers.
The factors that play into the desirability of a billboard spot include:
- Traffic speed: People are more likely to see your ad if they’re on a congested highway than on a train route where travelers pass at 40 mph. Therefore, you should choose a billboard located on a street with a low speed limit or on a roadway susceptible to traffic congestion.
- Proximity of the billboard to the road: The distance of a sign from the road affects how visible it is to passing drivers. For that reason, pick a location that is close enough to the road to be legible.
- Traveler destination: Consider whether you’re advertising your business to locals or people who are just passing through town. Also, consider whether people are likely to visit your business on the way to or from work.
This type of data is generally available from the company selling the billboard space. However, it’s also a good idea to visit the location before committing to billboard advertising. Make sure you analyze where your customer base is coming from and put the billboard exactly where they’re most likely to see it.
Also, consider buying a billboard directly across from your competitors. For example, the McDonald’s billboard below is poking fun at Starbucks’ sky-high prices. Imagine the effect this sign would have if you’re considering purchasing a $4 coffee drink and then realize McDonald’s can offer a similar product at a much lower cost.
How to Rent a Specific Billboard
If you’ve already chosen a billboard location, note the advertising company next time you pass the sign. The company name is usually listed below the image on the structure itself. Some of the largest billboard companies in the U.S. are Lamar, Clear Channel, and CBS Outdoor, but there are many local and regional providers.
Installing a Billboard on Your Property
If you want to install a billboard on your property, look into local ordinances to confirm they’re permitted under local zoning regulations. Call your local city or county government to find out how your property is zoned. If consistent with zoning requirements, you can install the billboard yourself or lease your property to an advertising company.
Options for installing a billboard include:
Developing the Billboard Yourself
If you want to build a billboard on your own property, you can install and manage the billboard yourself. Factoring in all material and construction costs, a 14×48-foot billboard can range from around $15,000 to $20,000 for a wooden structure, $40,000 to $100,000 or more for a steel structure, and $154,000 or more for a digital board. The exact cost depends on the height of the sign (distance from the ground) and whether it’s double- or single-sided.
Leasing Land to an Advertising Company
Advertising companies like Lamar and Lang Media actively seek new locations for billboard advertising space and enter long-term leases with property owners for use of their land. If you work with an advertising company, their team will typically handle everything, including construction, client acquisition, and replacing the ad. On average, expect to earn around 15% to 20% of the net revenue yielded by the sign (or as much as 30% to 35% in a major city).
Pros & Cons of Billboard Rental
Billboards can be expensive, difficult to read, or inflexible, but may still be beneficial given their potentially high exposure and simple, targeted message. Once you learn how much a billboard costs, familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of billboard advertising before committing to a board.
Pros of Billboard Rental
The pros of renting a billboard advertisement include:
- Potentially high exposure: A highly visible billboard on a busy street can expose your advertisement to a huge number of people each day.
- Low cost per impression: Depending on how many people see your board each day, even an expensive board can have a low cost per impression.
- Targeted advertising: By choosing a billboard location that is close to your business or located on a common route for your ideal clientele, you can target appropriate customers more easily than with other types of advertisements.
- Simple messaging: Billboards feature simple, easy-to-read messages that make it easy to share information with potential clients.
- Versatility: Vinyl billboards can be limited, but digital billboards allow businesses to share several different screens with viewers over several seconds.
Cons of Billboard Rental
The cons of renting a billboard advertisement include:
- Immovable: Unlike other forms of advertising, like newspaper ads or bus banners, billboards are immovable and only visible to the people who pass them each day.
- Inflexible: With the exception of digital billboards, traditional billboards can only show one advertisement for a long period of time. This means you can’t quickly expose customers to new products and promotions like you can with other advertising.
- Difficult to read: Billboards are typically placed on busy roads to increase their visibility and audience. However, most people are driving when they pass billboards, making it less likely they’ll read and be influenced by the ad.
Alternatives to Billboard Advertising
In general, billboard advertising falls into one of two categories: traditional physical billboards and digital billboards. This form of outdoor advertising is usually sited along busy roadways because it primarily targets motorists. However, additional types of outdoor advertising, like bridge and transit advertising, lamp post banners, and mobile billboards, can capture the attention of other consumers.
Alternative types of outdoor advertising include:
- Bridge ads: Outdoor advertising on bridges targets commuters who are stuck in traffic during rush hour. This form of advertising is best suited for businesses that want to target locals rather than more transient motorists.
- Transit ads: Advertisements in buses, subway cars, taxis, and other forms of transit target a captive audience. What’s more, these ads can be route-specific, so you can direct your ads to a smaller, more targeted audience.
- Lamp post banners: Lamp post banners are most beneficial in areas with high foot traffic or downtown areas with low speed limits. This form of advertising is a great option for promoting local events or businesses within walking distance of the sign.
- Mobile ads: Mobile ads appear on the sides of buses, trucks, and other large vehicles. They are more flexible than traditional billboards because they move with the flow of traffic rather than being static.
“Mobile billboards on semi-truck trailers can provide marketers and brands with an alternative way to get attention. Due to the fact that the truck trailers are on the road, right in front of and directly to the side of traffic, drivers are more likely to spend an increased amount of time looking at the ads on the side of the truck.”
– Dan Salganik, CEO, Commoot
Bottom Line: How Much Does a Billboard Cost?
Billboards are a great way to encourage viewers to take action or simply introduce your brand to a broad audience. Billboard advertising cost depends on format, circulation, demographics, and impressions. While vinyl billboards typically cost $250 per month or more in rural areas and $14,000 per month or more in larger markets, digital boards can cost $10,000 per month or more depending on the location.
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