Digital marketing has increased in popularity in recent years, yet out-of-home (OOH) billboard advertising remains a core focus for almost all businesses. Billboards have the power to capture your audience, boost brand awareness, and deliver impactful messages to a wide range of people and demographics.
According to recent research, 42% of Brits see at least one advertising billboard per week. This percentage is likely to have increased dramatically since this survey was conducted, as people returned to their offices and workplaces following the COVID-19 lockdowns.
However, outdoor billboard advertising has a reputation for being expensive, and many small businesses shy away from the outdoor ad space in favour of digital ad campaigns. The truth is that billboards are often a very cost-effective form of advertising. The price of a billboard ad varies depending on several factors, including where the ad is placed, its size, and how many people are likely to see it.
In this article, we’ll outline how much billboard advertising typically costs, what its benefits are, and how you can make your billboard advertising campaign more cost-effective.
Suggested reading: Read our article, ‘Is Billboard Advertising Right For Your Business?', to learn more about whether billboard advertising is a good fit for you.
How much does billboard advertising cost?
Cost is a crucial factor to consider when deciding whether to invest in billboard advertising. However, pinpointing an exact answer to the billboard cost question is challenging, as prices can vary significantly based on several factors:
Time: How long you run your campaign for and when you run it will make a difference to the overall cost. Digital billboards are normally the most flexible option, allowing you to run campaigns by the hour, day, week, or longer. Keep in mind that if you are running ads during popular periods like Christmas, costs may be higher.
Location: The cost of billboards in high-traffic areas and prime locations, such as major highways or bustling city centres, tends to be higher due to their enhanced visibility and wider reach.
Type of billboard: Specialised formats such as interactive or 3D digital billboards typically come with a higher price tag compared to classic billboards, which are made of paper.
The cost of a billboard ad will normally correspond to its potential impact. The larger the impact, the higher the associated cost. However, there are still many ways you can create a cost-effective billboard ad campaign that reaches a wide audience.
Pro tip: Alight Media offers billboards with no minimum order value. This means you can run a single billboard for a day or launch a national campaign for two weeks — providing you with the flexibility to tailor your campaign according to your budget.
Is billboard advertising worth it?
In an age dominated by digital marketing, it's natural for companies to question the importance of physical billboard advertising.
However, this points to the exact reason why billboard advertising is so effective: by embracing outdoor advertising, you are establishing your company's presence in the physical world and differentiating yourself from digital competitors. It can also help to:
Build brand awareness: Digital billboard advertising can help you leave a lasting impression on your target audience through impactful visuals and engaging messages.
Launch time-limited campaigns: You can use billboard ads to promote time-sensitive campaigns that need a large amount of exposure in a short period of time.
Target specific audiences: Digital billboards allow you to reach the people most relevant to your product or service.
The key to making billboard advertising worth it lies in executing your campaign in the right way. This involves choosing a diligent provider and communicating with them to ensure your goals are aligned.
How to make your billboard advertising more cost-effective
There are several steps you can take to optimise the cost-effectiveness of your billboard campaign. These can all be done while maintaining high-quality results and reaching a wide and varied audience.
#1: Consider the location
If you want to make your billboard campaign more cost-effective, it's important to choose locations that will reach your target audience without breaking the bank.
Talk to an expert to learn more about where your target audience is and where you can locate your ads for maximum impact.
If you are a sportswear brand, for example, and are trying to reach a reasonably young demographic, try advertising near local parks or gyms rather than in busy city centres. You will still be able to reach your target audience, but can do so at a lower cost.
Suggested reading: Check out our blog, ‘How to choose the best OOH locations for your ads’ to learn more about choosing your billboard location.
#2: Explore different sizes
Although billboard ad sizes don’t always affect the cost, this is an important factor to keep in mind. The most common billboard sizes are:
48-sheet: These big, attention-grabbing billboards are perfect for reaching a wide audience. You'll often spot them at busy intersections or on main roads leading in and out of cities.
6-sheet: These smaller size billboards allow businesses to convey a clear and simple message to viewers. You'll commonly find them at bus stops or along roadsides.
Which style you go for should depend on what message you want to convey and who your target audience is. The cost of billboards can vary slightly based on their size, but location will still be the biggest factor impacting prices.
Regardless of cost, it's important to select the size that best aligns with your wider OOH marketing strategy and resonates with your intended viewers.
#3: Consider your format: digital or paper?
If you're aiming to reduce the cost of your OOH campaigns, you may want to consider using a variety of formats. Incorporating a mix of digital and paper billboards can help you achieve cost savings while boosting your overall results.
What’s the difference?
Digital billboards can have environment-sensitive triggers that change the design depending on the surroundings. They come in a range of sizes and are often seen along busy roads or at bus shelters.
Paper billboards are considered a type of traditional billboard advertising and are most often used within local communities and urban areas (though you might also see them at roadside locations).
By strategically combining paper and digital billboards, you can enjoy the benefits of each while saving on costs. One way to do this is by using digital 48-sheet billboards to help your brand stand out on main roads or busy high streets, while using paper billboards in smaller communities to support your local brand image.
#4: Choose a provider-led design
Design is one of the most important steps in the entire billboard advertising process, and can impact the ROI as well as the effectiveness of an ad. For instance, an ad is unlikely to generate much online traffic if the website link is unclear and does not contrast enough with the background.
That's why it's often smarter and more cost-effective to work with professional billboard ad designers. A specialist can support the creation and execution of your billboard marketing strategy, ensuring that the design is optimised for maximum impact.
Partnering with a billboard professional will help you create visually attention-grabbing ads that effectively convey your message while helping to ensure production costs remain low.
Pro tip: If you’ve chosen to do paper billboard advertising, take into consideration the cost of production. Your poster provider should be able to advise on the cost of printing and posting. One advantage of digital advertising is that you can easily update your design with no additional printing or posting costs.
#5: Try different times
Time can have a big impact on advertising costs, from the time of year to how long an ad is displayed for. A recent study demonstrated that the time of day of an out-of-home advertising display can influence online searches by as much as 57%.
Time can influence advertising costs further based on:
Time of year: Seasonality can have a big impact on advertising costs. When it gets colder, for example, more people choose to drive which means more opportunities to showcase a roadside billboard ad.
Time of day: Peak hours for digital billboard advertising are typically during morning and evening rush hours when there is high traffic volume and increased visibility. However, that means that the digital billboard advertising costs (in the UK) during this time are typically higher. Consider the habits and behaviours of your target audience and identify the prime times to reach them while optimising costs.
Seasonal events: Special events create a buzz that leads to a surge in demand for advertising space, resulting in higher billboard rental prices. Take this into account when planning your ad campaigns. For instance, if you specialise in Christmas-related products and advertising costs are high in that period, you could focus on lower-cost, local community advertising.
You also need to consider campaign length. Longer campaigns mean more exposure and brand awareness, but they can also mean higher costs. Take a good look at your goals, target audience, budget, and expected ROI to decide the optimal duration for your campaign.
Optimise the cost-effectiveness of your campaign
Billboard advertising can be a highly effective way to improve online visibility, boost general brand awareness, and reach your target audience.
Here's a quick recap of our top tips for making billboard ads more cost-effective:
Choose your location strategically
Explore different sizes
Mix digital and paper formats
Prioritise effective design
Be conscious of timing
Alight Media is your go-to partner for budget-friendly billboard advertising. We offer flexible options with no minimum spend, allowing companies of all sizes to advertise with us.
As part of our comprehensive billboard advertising services, our expert team provides design and advisory consultancy to ensure you can get maximum impact from your campaign.