A History Of Billboard Advertising

A History Of Billboard Advertising: From Printable Flyers To Modern Day Digital Outdoor Advertising

The history of outdoor advertising is fascinating. Since the days of stonemasons engraving store signs, the industry has made great strides. The following is a collection of some notable instances that impacted the modern outdoor advertising landscape and contributed to the development of the outdoor art form and onward to the growing trend of digital outdoor advertising.

The Invention Of Outdoor Advertising

Johannes Gutenberg pioneered movable type printing in 1450, which resulted in the first-ever advertisement piece. Initially, starting as flyers and onward towards illustrated posters in 1796, outdoor advertising continued to evolve as the lithographic process was refined, becoming more like the billboards we see today.

Laying The Foundation For Billboard Advertising As We Know It

When advertising icon Jared Bell understood that a large scale poster was the ideal method to promote the circus’ larger-than-life attractions to New Yorkers in the early 1800s, he created the first known billboard. As a result, the circus was a massive success, and the foundation for modern-day billboard advertising had been laid.

The Growing Need For Billboards With The Development Of City Infrastructure

Billboard advertising became more popular in the early twentieth century due to the rising use of motor vehicles and highway and road infrastructure development. As a result, vehicle retailers, hotel establishments and roadside eateries would purchase or lease billboards to attract new consumers.

Billboard advertising became widely used in developing towns and cities to persuade travellers to spend some time exploring their surroundings before continuing on their journey. As a result of the success of these billboards, a new sector of the advertising business was born, as companies sought better and more visually appealing adverts to tempt passing travellers to stop and spend their hard-earned money.

Digital Technology Leading Billboard Advertising Into The Future

With the advancement in digital technology, hand-painted billboards soon became replaced by computer designed and generated imagery. The 90s saw a rise in digital place-based advertising, and by 2003 about 2% of outdoor advertising mediums consisted of digital displays; by 2010, that figure had climbed to more than 10%, and today it is significantly higher.

The first digital billboard appeared in 2005 and was a spinoff of conventional outdoor advertising choices and digital place-based screens. Advertisers realised that they could distribute interactive video content to a broader audience.

Innovation Will Take Outdoor Advertising Firmly Into The Future

Marketers now use digital billboards to create advertisements that can be readily changed and shown in real-time. This enables them to reach a wider audience with more than one advert or message. Digital outdoor advertising continues to evolve with the implementation of solar and wind power technologies, now used to power displays and with a very innovative concept, using billboards combined with solar technology to power the buildings in which they are placed.

Thanks to improved data collection and analytics reporting, hyper-targeted digital advertisements have been made possible. In addition, innovative brands are finding ways to enhance consumers’ digital outdoor advertising experience by combining it with virtual and augmented reality.

The evolution of billboards and the progress of civilisation really do go hand in hand – with the constant development of technologies and trends, the industry’s future promises to be as fascinating as its history.