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Billboard Advertising Guide: Costs, Tips, Effectiveness & More


Neville

billboard advertising

We rented a KopywritingKourse billboard for $904 for a month! [Jump down to see].

However in researching how to buy a billboard, it was nearly impossible to find much helpful information.

So we've compiled everything we've learned about advertising on a billboard into one helpful guide:

 

 

 

Where to buy billboards:

Billboards are all fragmented. You can have individual Mom-And-Pop style outfits that sell space on their private billboard, or big companies like Lamar Advertising.

Here are the top 10 billboard advertising companies in the United States:

If you enquire about advertising with them, you will most likely be assigned a local "billboard broker" who will help you.

The billboard industry seems pretty old school and fragmented.

 

 

 

How Much Does a Billboard Cost (Pricing)?

There’s two primary costs associated with a billboard:

Cost #1.) Printing and posting the billboard.

Cost #2.) Renting the billboard.

Printing a billboard is between $400 and $1,000 depending on size. I was actually surprised how cheap this part of the process was.

For some reason I assumed printing 300 sqft of sign would be extremely expensive. However the cost was pretty reasonable.

Just like real estate, it completely depends on WHERE you want your billboard.

After requesting samples of billboards we could rent around Austin, here were 3 billboards within our $1,500/mo budget:

billboardrates.png

 

Billboard #1:

Description: Located in north Austin, this bulletin targets traffic heading north towards Pflugerville, Round Rock & Georgetown, which avoids traffic on I-35.

Size (in feet): 14' x 48'

Weekly Impressions: 91,542

Rental Cost Per Month: $495

Printing and Posting Costs: $1,000

Total Cost: $1,495

-outdoor-billboard-pricing-sheet

 

Billboard #2:

Description: Located in north Austin, this bulletin targets traffic heading north towards Pflugerville, Round Rock & Georgetown, avoiding traffic on I-35.

Size (in feet): 12' x 40'

Weekly Impressions: 58,808

Rental Cost Per Month: $350

Printing and Posting Costs: $792

Total Cost: $1,142

outdoor-billboard-pricing-sheet

 

Billboard #3: (The one we rented)

Description: Located on the east side of Austin, this bulletin targets traffic heading towards downtown Austin.

Size (in feet): 12' X 24'

Weekly Impressions: 33,692

Rental Cost Per Month: $400

Printing and Posting Costs: $475

Total Cost: $875

Address: 2609 E Cesar Chavez St.

outdoor-billboard-pricing-sheet

Since we're spending all this money as just a "fun experiment" I decided on the cheapest billboard. After all the printing, rental, and taxes, the total cost of the billboard came to $904.

 

 

 

Billboard Sizes:

The way billboards are sized is with a "sheet" system.

Billboards are divided up into "sheets" that comprise of 27" x 40" inches sheets. Each sheet is limited to how big most commercial printing machines can print.

The more sheets you have on a billboard, the larger it is (duh).

[table id=3 /]

The billboard we decided on was small enough (12' x 24') to be printed all at once with a huge vinyl printer. Here's the box it came in:

Kopywriting-Kourse_Turn-everyone-in-your

 

 

 

How to Design A Billboard:

There’s some interesting best practices when it comes to designing a billboard.

So here’s the information and best practiced we gathered from speaking with billboard designers and brokers.

From what we gathered, those are the primary guidelines for billboards. If you have any other advice, share it in the comments!

However we tried out 11 different versions of the billboard with slight variations between each. We then put each draft through a visual attention simulator to see where people were most likely to look at each version.

Our design specs for the billboard were aa follows:

  • 1" = 1’ ratio. (One inch equals one foot).
  • We needed a final file at 13" x 25" at 300 DPI. That includes a 1" bleed.
  • Art board can be sized to 12" x 24" with a 0.5" safe area.

 

Below you can see all 11 versions of our initial billboard drafts (with visual heat maps and eye tracking):

 

Version 1:

Plain white background. StickPerson looking to the right.

billboard mockup

 

Version 2:

Plain white background. StickPerson looking down.

billboard mockup

 

Version 3:

Plain white background. StickPerson looking up and to the right.

billboard mockup

 

Version 4:

Green background. StickPerson looking down.

billboard mockup

 

Version 5:

White and Green split background. StickPerson looking down.

billboard mockup

 

Version 6:

Yellow background. StickPerson looking down.

billboard mockup

 

Version 7:

Yellow and Green split background. StickPerson looking down. Waving hand is between the split background.

billboard mockup

 

Version 8:

Yellow and White horizontal split background. StickPerson looking down.

billboard mockup

 

Version 9:

Yellow and Green horizontal split background. StickPerson looking down.

billboard mockup

 

Version 10:

Yellow and Green horizontal split background with white logo. StickPerson looking down.

billboard mockup

 

Version 11:

Yellow and Green horizontal split background with black logo. StickPerson looking down.

billboard mockup

We originally put a web URL on all the designs, but in the end the head designer gave us this sage advice:

 

 

 

The KopywritingKourse Billboard!

So after spending a total of $904 and about 2 weeks of back-n-forth with the billboard broker, here's what came out.

Here's two examples of how the billboard looked before we rented it:

billboard-before.png

...and here's what it looks like now!

kopywritingkourse billboard

kopywritingkourse billboard

kopywritingkourse billboard

kopywritingkourse billboard

kopywritingkourse billboard

kopywritingkourse billboard

 

kopywritingkourse-billboard-Posted.png

 

kopywritingkourse-billboard-Posted2.png

 

kopywritingkourse-billboard-Posted3.png

 

kopywritingkourse-billboard-Posted4.png

 

kopywritingkourse-billboard-Posted5.png

 

kopywritingkourse-billboard-Posted6.png

If you’re in Austin, TX. Between Nov. 13th and Dec. 16th you can see this billboard.

Description: Located on the east side of Austin, this bulletin targets traffic heading towards downtown Austin.

Size (in feet): 12' X 24'

Weekly Impressions: 33,692

Rental Cost Per Month: $400

Printing and Posting Costs: $475

Total Cost: $875

Total Cost after taxes/fees: $904

Address: 2609 E Cesar Chavez St.

Dates Running: 11-6-2017 - 12-3-2017

 

 

 

Download This Whole Billboard Guide:

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-- Keep in your files --

-- Share with colleagues --

-- Download in PDF or Google Doc format --

Sincerely,

Neville N. Medhora - Proud father of a newborn billboard

 

P.S. Have you ever bought a billboard, seen a clever billboard, or designed your own billboard?? Tell everyone about your experience or results here!

 


User Feedback

Recommended Comments



Guest Neville

Posted

I mean....it was KIND of the same thing, except dealing with a broker in the middle rather than a piece of software like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads.

It WAS fun though :)

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Guest Najeeb Khan

Posted

That's amazing that you got a billboard. I personally haven't bought one but was curious about pricing about it where I live a few years back. I'm curious what the ROI is. Thanks for sharing the details!

PS. Interesting choice of pastel colors for sure.

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Guest Neville

Posted

Hey Rick, to be honest I didn't really give a damn what the billboard says.

We made up that drawing in two seconds and moved on. The point of the post was to research the creation of billboards, not to get business from that billboard.

For a digital company like KopywritingKourse in particular, I think there's more effective ways to spend that $904 rather than billboard signage :)

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Guest Neville

Posted

Hey Chantelle, I think it's nearly impossible to ACCURATELY measure effectiveness on these.

Especially when people have to "jump mediums" from physical world to digital world. The main point of this billboard was just to see how to get one made :)

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Guest Neville

Posted

Hey Gigi, not sure I'll even be able to REMOTELY accurately track the results.

The purpose of this billboard was just to research how to make a billboard!

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Guest Tom Wrona

Posted

The Melania picture gimmick was clever but the type for the info was waaaaaaaaaaaay too small. But they got coverage all over the world so they were crazy like a fox.
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Guest Neville

Posted

There probably won't be a direct ROI on this. The purpose of this was to research how to make a billboard.

Tracking these things accurately is very hard.

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Guest Neville

Posted

Yup....I think there could be something interesting in this old industry. I think the thing holding it back is accurate tracking.

Whereas with digital platforms you get SPECIFIC numbers, in the billboard world it's all about estimates.

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Guest Neville

Posted

Hey Matt......I was going to go down that road, but it varies SO MUCH from state to state, city to city, location to location.

I'm assuming it's like buying and renting houses: So long as you have a property that's ROI'ing every month, and you're able to keep it full all the time, it will be worth it.

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Guest Neville

Posted

The purpose of the billboard was to figure out how billboards were made. Wasn't trying to appeal to everyone. Hope you at least learned something about the process!
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Guest Neville

Posted

Bahahhaah omg that's great!

onestop-upside-down-billboard.png

I've seen a similar tactic used by the laundromat I used to live near. I'd ALWAYS look at their upside down sign, and that's the reason I remember there's a laundromat there (otherwise I think it would've just blended in with every other sign).

Thanks for sharing Cesar!

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I am thinking the goal is to get attention, so people google the site and then learn all the benefits copywriting can provide for their business. Selling people on the benefits in just 7 words as they drive by would be pretty hard.
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Love all of your posts! They're so interesting and useful!

Thank you so much for sharing :)

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Someone needs to tell the writers of Three Billboards in Ebbing Minnesota the pricing's way off.
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Guest r dernister

Posted

Eric mentioned the increased search volume also. But I'm skeptical that giving phone numbers, discount codes, and secret codes with instructions would work very well on a billboard. Using the chiropractic office as an an example, perhaps you could offer something like "Subluxation Saturdays! 10% off Saturdays only. San Jose Chiropractic" and (as you suggested) let the viewer Google San Jose Chiropractic to find the address. If there is just one billboard being used and traffic picks up on Saturdays, then it should be easier to determine the cost per client and decide if billboard ads are worthwhile at that location. Obviously billboards are real estate, and real estate is all about location: billboards in different areas most likely will have different pull rates. Test, test, test.
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Guest r dernister

Posted

I should've commented earlier that this is an excellent article, very practical and helpful, on a subject of which most likely very few of your readers have any knowledge. Great experiment and I'm definitely saving this article. Many thanks, Neville.
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Guest Eddie Haddad

Posted

Neville, this is dope.

I've been curious about how the digital marketer mindset can make some creative use out of more traditional forms of advertising.

I have a friend of mine in the Works Compensation niche with his own firm that's interested in renting a billboard in LA. After I showed him this article now he's SUPER interested lol.

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Guest Kristan

Posted

Neville, I enjoy reading your posts! I love that you do these experiments and pass along the lessons you learn. I'm a recovering ad girl, and I've bought many billboards across the country throughout the years. A few years ago I made a Slideshare with a handful of the biggest outdoor advertising mistakes people make: https://www.slideshare.net/klbraziel/slide-share-5-ooh-mistakes-powerpoint. At the time, the focus of my blog was to help small businesses with their advertising, but I've moved away from that, now, so the freebie that's offered at the end of the slideshare isn't valid, anymore. But hopefully the content of the slides gives some helpful tips to add to your post.
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Would love to, but I can't. I moved to Asia and my father turned my business into wholesale.

But speaking of Asia... Here billboards and leaflets are crazy popular! The design sucks, tho. They always claim that I am a foreigner and Asians are Asians so I don't understand them and my design sucks.

They don't believe in heatmaps and all research on human behavior.

I will take some photos of billboards and leaflets here for you. Maybe they can be some kind of inspiration. Gimme a week and I will e-mail you something :)

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One more thing.

I also bought a cheap car for around $100, Daewoo Tico, and I put ads all over it.

Then I parked it in front of some big stores like Kaufland or Lidl (something like a European Walmart). That way I would get free exposure.

I had people directly coming to me and talking about my business or asking if they can buy things from me on the spot.

I also drove it around during rush hours, just to let other drivers see.

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