Skip to content Skip to footer

Is billboard advertising effective in 2023? And can you measure it?

3 March 2023
1059 Alight Trafford Centre Greet Inn Warwick Rd B112 HP Birmingham Feb23 View2fill lowres 2048x1024

Out-of-home advertising (OOH) is a tried-and-tested method of spreading the word about your business. In fact, while 2022 data hasn’t yet been confirmed, Statista predicts that OOH advertising will have experienced a 31.5% increase in spending from the previous year.1

This is a sign that billboard advertising isn’t going anywhere, but a lot of marketing managers might not be sure it’s worth the risk. This could be for a number of reasons, including concerns around cost, reach, and effectiveness.

The truth is that billboards work, and are a really effective way of reaching your ideal audience. When done right, billboards could be the golden ticket your business needs to broaden its reach and engage with more people.

In this blog, we’re going to outline a few of the reasons why billboard advertising still has a place in 2023, and is an incredibly effective method of getting your message out to the right audience.

You can target specific locations

Billboards are one of the most effective forms of advertising when used alongside digital marketing, but this goes both ways — digital ads are more powerful with the help of billboards.

Although they’re still widely used, targeting very specific audiences through the use of tracking cookies has become much harder. This is thanks to new policies, such as Apple requiring apps to get consumer permission to track their activity.2 This has had a negative impact on a lot of businesses’ ability to reach their target audience, and made digital advertising more difficult.

A billboard is guaranteed to be seen and, when you target the right location, you ensure the relevant people are seeing (and resonating with) your ad. For example, an advertisement for a budgeting app would do well on a bus shelter in a corporate district, as it’s guaranteed to be seen by young professionals.

Targeting specific locations also helps with improving brand awareness in a local area, something Alight Media prioritises. We offer OOH opportunities across 153 towns, many of which are now referred to as 15-minute cities’. These are the communities where people live in close proximity to where they shop — and they’re seeing increased footfall.

Targeting these smaller areas can help increase local fame and ensure you’re becoming a household name. Importantly, this boost can be measured. For example, if you see a surge in purchases coming from Telford soon after placing a billboard there, you’ll know there’s a correlation and that your ads are convincing people to engage with you.

You’re guaranteed an audience

As we said earlier, the biggest plus of digital advertising is its ability to reach very specific audiences. However, people have become better and better at avoiding digital advertising altogether, by:

  • Swiping ads away.
  • Marking ads as something they’re not interested in.
  • Adjusting their privacy settings
  • Using an ad blocker.

This makes it harder to reach the right people, and can result in you spending a lot of money on campaigns that don’t yield any benefits. That’s not the case with billboard marketing: according to a study by Nielsen, reaching a 1,000-person audience could cost up to £15 online. To reach the same audience, you could be spending as little as half that amount with OOH.3

Whether people are seeing a digital billboard from their cars, or reading a bus shelter ad while they wait to get home, you’re guaranteed an audience with OOH advertising. By making your messaging part of the landscape, people will notice and (even subconsciously) remember your name.

OOH is a really effective means of not only getting you an audience — but getting you the right audience. Although there are plenty of reporting tools available to help track, isolate, and compare performance for OOH campaigns, the easiest way to measure its impact is by keeping an eye out for increased website traffic and brand recognition.

Suggested reading: Did you know that Alight’s digital billboards are now the market leader for audience reach? Read our blog about it here.

You benefit from impulse action

When digital advertising is used as an alternative to OOH advertising, it has the potential to encourage impulse purchases as it makes use of how often people are on their phones. However, the oversaturation of ads on social media has meant people increasingly gloss over them and don’t engage.

Using OOH can help boost offline-to-online responses, as the people noticing your ads can then take immediate action on their phones. Recent studies have shown that 58% of people who spend more time out-of-home perform more online searches, and these searches cover more diverse categories.4 Running billboards alongside your digital ads, therefore, is a really clever way of driving your audience to actually engage with your business.

There are a number of ways that you can communicate with people and encourage impulse action through billboards, including:

  • QR codes on advertisements.
  • Advertisements outside a retailer, e.g. a billboard for vegan products outside of a supermarket that stocks them.
  • Advertisements placed on roads known to have traffic jams, to target those scrolling on their phones while waiting.

Doing so will reach more people and make your OOH ads even more successful. You can also easily track how effective they are by measuring how many site visits were through your QR code, or if there was an uptick in sales of your product from a shop where you had a billboard placed.

You can cultivate your brand status

Billboards tell passersby that you are so proud of and confident in your services or products, and that you’re willing to showcase them on a bus shelter, on the motorway, or even on the side of an iconic building. This helps build your brand status, as your ad is seen by a wide range of audiences. Additionally, it can begin to feel like part of the landscape or the architecture of a city or town.

Having billboards turns you into more of a household name as you can be discovered even by people who don’t use social media. This sets you apart from the competition, as a lot of your rivals will be sticking exclusively to digital ads and as a result ignoring a wider audience.

A common pattern we at Alight see is smaller businesses appearing reluctant to invest in OOH advertising because they worry they don’t have the status or reach to warrant advertising on such a large scale. In fact, the total opposite is true: investing in billboards builds that status, and showcases you to more people and a range of demographics. Marketing yourself as a small business, especially in your local area, will actually encourage more people to support you and help you flourish.

It’s easier to build brand status and awareness with an OOH provider such as Alight Media. We can help get your message out to the right people, in the right places, and at the right time.

Billboard ads: an effective way to reach the right people

In spite of it being harder to measure the effectiveness of billboard ads than their online alternative, they’re still a proven way of reaching the right people in an efficient, cost-effective, eye-catching way. Many businesses measure the reach of their campaign by using anonymised data from smartphones. This allows them to tell how many people are walking past their ad, and what demographic they belong to.

You can also measure ads through surges of engagement from specific areas where you’ve placed an ad, or whether you’re becoming more of a household name the longer your OOH ads stay up.

Importantly, billboards don’t have to (and rather, shouldn’t) be used alone. When used alongside search, social media, radio, or TV ads, you can create a powerful marketing strategy that reaches far more people.

If you’d like to take your marketing out-of-home and enjoy the benefits of billboard advertising, book a discovery call today.

1 Out-of-home (OOH) advertising expenditure in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2011 to 2021 | Statista

2Apple and Google Are Killing the (Ad) Cookie. Here’s Why | Bloomberg UK

3 Nielsen: OOH Most Effective in Driving Online Activity | OAAA

4 JCDecaux, Clear Channel, Global and Posterscope launch collaborative research study 'The Point of Search'