Billboard Pricing: Re-Calculating the Costs after COVID-19

Billboards were already overrated 

The US has the most vibrant advertising market in the world. By year end 2019, the ad spends by US companies could hit $200 billion. It comes as an icing on the cake of an industry that has seen growth in more than a decade. While the lion’s share of the total ad spends in the US could shift to online platforms going forward, legacy systems are still holding strong. Notably, traditional media like billboards are facing dire times ahead. It is because much of the attention of the target audience is on digital platforms.

Despite this reality, billboards are still in use. As of August 2019, there were just over 342,000 billboards on display on the side of US highways. However, billboard pricing is contingent on the location. Billboard pricing in US is extremely high. For instance, a single display in Boston costs between $11,000 and $23,000 for four weeks. In a medium city like San Diego, one needs at least $15,000 for a four-week display. However, in a small town like Milwaukee, just $4,000 is enough to pay for a billboard display for four weeks.

From the preceding, billboard prices punitive for businesses in large cities. Unfortunately, the correlation of the billboard pricing with audience targeting is low. In the US, many billboards appear on the sides of highways and huge buildings. Notably, the ads placed on the billboards target drivers and passengers in cars and trains. Unfortunately, many, if not all, drivers on busy highways would instead focus on the road than read a billboard. Otherwise, the inattention to the road might result in many accidents. On the other hand, many passengers on trains and cars focus on touching and swiping at their smartphones. In a word, the majority of the target audience is less attentive to billboards. The billboard pricing does not correlate with the brand recall.

Further, there is no way advertisers can say with much confidence that they know who will use a particular highway for four weeks. Therefore, it is merely a matter of faith, which does not convert to engagement for the message. Unlike other advertising techniques like ambient marketing, billboards cannot reach a specific audience. Instead, it relies on the generalization that, in the end, produces scant impressions.

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