- Billboards can target specific markets that no other advertising media like TV, radio or print can reach with pinpoint accuracy. Its ability to be strategically located in specific areas, cities, towns or provinces can be effectively aimed at particular audiences.
- Billboard advertising cannot be switched off – it is visible 24/7, every day of the month. Audiences cannot turn a page (as with print media) or take an ad break (as with television). The message is therefore broadcasted on a continuous, repetitive basis which increases visibility potential.
6 basic rules
of Billboard advertising
- Billboards announce the presence of a brand, and repeated viewing creates brand familiarity. This leads to potential customers being more reassured and comfortable with using your brand. In turn this leads to better sales.
- Brand presence creates increased brand loyalty, and billboards help to improve brand presence and market dominance, and in turn this escalates sales potential and expanded customer bases.
- Billboards are very cost effective when compared to other advertising media.
- Billboards do not force viewers to experience information overload.
SIX WORDS OR LESS IS IDEAL
Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard. So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across. You can push this to a few more words depending on their length and ease of reading, but as a rule of thumb, less is more here. Concision is tough, but headlines that are small paragraphs will not get read. And that means, if you have a complex brand, product or service, you should stay away from billboards completely.
DON’T BE A DISTRACTION
Most of the time, billboards are aimed at drivers, bikers, cyclists or pedestrians (which is why you have just a few seconds to get a message across). This causes an interesting dilemma for the advertiser; you want to get noticed, but you don’t want to be responsible for major, or even minor, accidents. The iconic “Hello Boys” Wonderbra ads were guilty of this. Drivers were so fascinated by Eva Herzigova’s cleavage that they were crashing into poles, medians and even each other. So, while being distracting is paramount in many mediums, it’s a fine balance with the billboard.
NOT THE TIME FOR DIRECT RESPONSE
I’ve seen billboards covered in phone numbers and website addresses, knowing without a doubt that 80% of the people who actually read the billboard would not have called or logged on. A billboard is a secondary advertising medium, which means that it’s for brand-building, growing product awareness and it’s a supporting campaign. It is the ideal medium for getting your business noticed, establishing your brand in the market place and reassuring the customer of their choice. There is no doubt that more exposure will translate to sales down the road.
DON’T BE TOO CLEVER
A boring billboard will be ignored. A smart billboard will grab the attention and leave a lasting impression. A billboard that’s trying to be too clever, well, it will get lost on the audience. As a rule, you don’t want billboards to make people scratch their heads and wonder what is going on. Complex visual metaphors are no good here. They say advertising should be like a puzzle to solve, it gives the audience a sense of fulfillment to know they figured it out. But billboards should be much simpler than that. Be smart, have fun, but don’t give people puzzles that Einstein would have trouble solving. You’re in the business of advertising, not showing off how clever you are.
THE MORE, THE BETTER
One billboard is not cheap. But it’s also not very effective either. Billboards are a mass market medium, but they need support. So, you want more than one, and you want as many eyes on them as possible. If you have only one board, your impact chances are obviously less than if you have four or five.
DON’T SAY IT, SHOW IT.
Get creative with your billboard ideas. A flat billboard is the standard, but it doesn’t have to be the norm. You can go 3D, have moving parts, have people interacting with it and even have your billboard animate. There is no reason that it just has to be a large, simple print ad. This is your opportunity to do something eye-catching and memorable, so go for it. The upside to this is it can create additional press, for free.
- Use less text: The average driving consumer has only 6 seconds to read a billboard, so they have to be able to comprend your message in a flash. Use only around 6 words, but keep the copy punchy and impressive to make a lasting impression.
- Don’t distract: While the billboard must be noticed, it must not be distractive or disruptive to traffic. Shocking or provocative images are irresponsible as it could distract drivers and lead to accidents. It is necessary to keep a balance between being noticed and being disruptive.
- Consider response time: People who drive by a billboard only have a few seconds to perceive the message. This means that there’s no time to write down telephone numbers or memorise website addresses. Rather create a highly powerful brand impression which will ensure that passing consumers are in some way impacted by the brand name and the business purpose, and they will be sure to remember it further down the line.
- Don’t get clever: Keep billboard colours and messages vibrant and memorable instead of providing viewers with a puzzle to solve. Pay attention to first impressions and how to create an indelible impression with your audience within a few seconds.
- Use repetition: One billboard is good, but more is better. A message is more memorable when repeated. We can also tell a story in consecutive billboards, e.g. posting a question in the first one that makes people wonder, and then posting the answer in a second, or even a third billboard further down the line.
- Impress with technology: While static billboards are still effective, modern LED display technologies provide opportunities to animate images, to send out a variety of messages, and to create a visual display that is more memorable than a static billboard poster.
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