Billboard Advertising 101: Making the Most of Your Outdoor Advertising

Believe it or not, 98% of British people are exposed to billboard or similar out-of-home (OOH) advertising every week. Despite the increasing tendency for businesses to favour online and digital avenues when it comes to reaching their target audience, billboard advertisements remain an extremely appealing option for raising brand awareness and engaging potential customers.

There are thousands of out-of-home and billboard sites across the UK managed under the umbrellas of firms such as JCDecaux, Global and Clear Channel. There are also a massive number of independent- and local authority-run advertising poster positions, giving brands huge opportunities to create eye-catching campaigns up and down the country.

Whilst the options for advertising boards is massive, for small businesses and those looking to advertise local services, there is often a question of just how to begin marketing via billboard ads—that’s where a media buying agency like The Bank can help!

At The Bank, our team of marketing and creative experts have the tools, experience and expertise to cover all your billboard advertising needs. From strategy and planning, to artwork and location analysis, your dedicated team will guide you through every step of the process.

Take a look below for our handy guide to billboard and out-of-home advertising, then give us a call to discuss how we can help!

Do Billboard Campaigns Work?

If I ask you to picture Piccadilly Circus in London, what do you see? My guess is you’ll recall the bright LED advertisements that wrap the fountain and statue of Anteros (news for you: it’s not “Eros”). You might even recall some of the brands that have dominated the site, such as Coca-Cola or Sanyo. What about if I ask you to picture Times Square or Tokyo..? You get the point!

A billboard advertising campaign is one of the most impactful advertising choices a company can make. When done right, an eye-catching billboard advert delivers impact, instant recall and unparalleled brand awareness. It’s a 24-hour device for promoting your product, broadcasting your message, and reaching a new audience of potential customers.

Advantages of Billboard Advertising Boards

Let’s look at some general advantages of developing a billboard advertising campaign:

Size Does Matter

The main advantage of billboard advertising boards is their size. The two most common billboard advertising sizes are known as 48 sheet and 96 sheet; the name refers to the physical number of paper “sheets” each ad requires to fill the space.

  • 48 sheet sizing is 6.096 x 3.048m
  • 96 sheet sizing is 12.192m x 3.048m

The super-sized dimensions of these billboards can deliver a huge impact and make a compelling call to action.

Digital Billboards

Increasingly common across the UK are digital billboards. This full-colour, illuminated billboards provide a superb showcase for businesses to promote themselves and their products.

Large-format digital billboards tend to be high up and hard to reach, meaning they’re less likely to be vandalised than street-level advertising furniture, preserving the quality of your message. However, street-level digital ads can be displayed on an interactive billboard, offering the kind of audience engagement never seen before.

Whilst traditional advertising boards must be bought in specific “posting” blocks because of the specialist fitting required, digital billboards are extremely agile. Owners of digital advertising boards allow flexible booking and quick creative activation, offering advertisers the ultimate flexibility.

Got You Covered

Billboard advertising boards have extremely strong regional and national coverage. Large-format outdoor advertising is common throughout the UK, giving advertisers plenty of opportunities to target markets in all locations, not just major towns and cities.

Additionally, billboards can be found in a range of locations:

  • Roadside ads on urban commuter routes will often be found side by side creating walls of advertising opportunity.
  • High-traffic areas like cities, town centres, shopping centres, and other large hubs which attract a lot of people.
  • Public transport and travel locations, such as airports and train stations, carry billboard advertising format which is a great way to quickly get in touch with lots of people.

Billboard Advertising: What NOT to Do

There are many factors which contribute to a successful OOH advertising campaign. From copy and design to location and format, through billboard advertising, companies are granted myriad opportunities to promote their brand and their product to the world.

With their format and placement in high-footfall areas, billboards can be a great way to make an impression and develop a lasting connection with audiences; at the same time, if you get it wrong, a negative impression will last just as long!

Take at some common mistakes in billboard advertising:

Less Is More

When it comes to out-of-home advertising—and to billboards in particular—a little less investment is often worth much more.

Too frequently media buyers and advertising agencies will strategise in a way that seeks to maximise the number of ad locations, but ignores the quality of these locations. With this “maximum exposure” approach, a client will see a large number of locations delivered on budget, but often in cheaper, high-volume sites that are located in sparsely populated or poorly positioned areas.

Similarly, it isn’t uncommon to see rows of outdoor advertising sites filled with ad media for a single brand. High-density promotion like this can represent extremely poor value for money, particularly if it occurs in small, out-of-city locations.

The takeaway: large-format billboard locations are not created equal. Billboard ads should be planned and bought according to specific brand and business requirements. For companies that need effective impact and reach, look less at the number of locations, and rely on an advertising agency who can tell you which locations will give you the greatest ROI.

Position, Position, Position…

A common misconception of outdoor advertising is that position doesn’t matter. You paid for your outdoor advertising materials, you should be able to use them for poster billboards, roadside billboards, digital billboards, and everything else, right??

If only it were that simple…

The reason to go with out-of-home advertising is to connect with those who are outside. Whether they’re commuting or enjoying leisure time, you want to be conscious of what your audience is likely to be doing when they see your marketing. You want to use this knowledge to inform your decisions on ad format and creative copy to ensure you’re connecting with your target market.

While strong position awareness can vastly increase the efficacy of your campaign, poor attention to this issue can result in negative brand awareness and damage to your brand’s reputation. Is it a great idea to advertise your fast-food chain at that school bus stop..?

Billboard Advertising: The Right Way

Now you’ve seen a few examples of what not to do, let’s explore a few healthy practices for proceeding with your billboard and OOH ads campaign.

First and foremost, when it comes to billboard advertising, it’s important to find a media buying agency who will work with the best long-term interests of your business in mind. The best advertising agencies will look at your own bottom line before their own, so be sure you can trust your hired marketing team to work for you.

At The Bank, we pride ourselves on being the best option for all businesses looking to develop or expand their billboard ad campaign. Take a look at some of our benchmarks for building successful campaigns for our clients.

Location

As we’ve highlighted, having an intimate working knowledge of billboard advertising opportunities on a national and regional basis is key. Many media buyers will simply spread your ad spend across the UK, using their regular agents to hit as many locations as possible, whether they’re useful for your brand or not.

At The Bank, we use a boots-to-the-ground approach to locality analysis, route research, and billboard placement. As our clients, we’ll determine the best traffic areas and location for your advertisement, whether you’re looking for a single billboard placement, or whether you’re running a UK-wide campaign.

We collaborate closely with all our clients, and we want to hear your suggestions. For small businesses and providers of local services, we want to know where you want to see your ads. So, if you’ve seen a billboard you think would be great for your message, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Cost-Effective

Using an advertising agency like The Bank is significantly more cost-effective than booking direct.

Our buying power results in a reduction in billboard advertising cost when compared to booking direct, and—unlike many other media buying agencies—The Bank’s media planning and strategy services are free of charge. Our compensation comes from the pockets of media publishers (billboard owners, etc.), meaning 100% of your ad spend goes on the purchase of billboards and other forms of OOH advertising.

What’s more, depending on the size of your campaign, we can extend support across all bookings free of charge, and lower production costs through our network of design, manufacturing, and installation specialists.

Creative

To get the most impact from billboard advertising, good creative is essential. Yes, the canvas is huge, but the average length of time a user has to consume your message is tiny. Jamming more content into your billboard designs might seem like a good idea, but using fewer components in your sign artwork is often more effective at getting the main purpose of your message across.

The biggest mistake is to fill your huge canvas with lots of wording or information. Often it makes messages barely legible when consumed from far away. Instead, go for one clear, concise, high-impact message, combined with the right photography, typefaces and simple call-to-action (website or phone) that are easily memorable. For the ultimate acid test, view your creative on-screen from at least 12 feet away—this will give you a more accurate impression of the final result.

As a creative agency, The Bank are fully equipped to solve these creative challenges. We handle billboard design and production on a regular basis, and our team have the creative skills and technical knowledge to ensure your assets are formatted correctly both for printing and public consumption.

How much does billboard advertising cost?

Okay, let’s get down to brass tax: what will your advertising billboards cost?

Frustratingly, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The cost of outdoor advertising varies greatly across the UK, with publishers setting prices based on their location and the number of “opportunities to see” (or, how many eyeballs will be seeing it). Typically, media owners base this metric on footfall (pedestrians or number of vehicles): the greater the number, the higher the price.

An obvious example, but for high-footfall areas in major cities like London, you would expect to pay significantly more than for billboards in a rural surrounding environment. The trick is to balance the outlay, with the opportunities to be seen, with the potential ROI—it’s a balancing act which an agency like The Bank can greatly assist you with.

In very broad terms, billboard advertising costs are typically between £600 and £2400 (+VAT) per week, per advertising board, though for boards in iconic, unique locations you might pay much more. Large outdoor billboards usually require at least a 2-week commitment, based on the fitting demands.

With bulk buying and agency discounts it’s possible to reduce these costs significantly, so get in touch today to work with our team on creating a budget.

The Bank: For All Your Billboard Advertisements and OOH Marketing

The Bank are here to handle all your business’ billboard marketing needs. From location analysis and strategy development, to billboard design and artwork optimisation, to performance-tracking and reportingour experts will create, implement and manage everything to promote your company message to the audiences that need to see them.

Whether you need a few local posters, to develop a UK campaign, or to get your business message out across the world, The Bank are the marketing company for you.

Give us a call today to discuss how we can help. We can’t wait to get started!

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