How Much Does Billboard Advertising Really Cost?

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Billboard ads can cost anywhere from $150/mo to $65,000 a month and even more. As you probably already know, demographics play a huge role in expsoure, value, and so on, which determines most of the pricing in your major citirtes. For example, in San Francisco, a billboard would run you anywhere between $12,000 – $15,000 in a high traffic area, said one advertising manager on Quora. Another local business owner in the Bay area states that, you can run digital billboards in the San Fran area for between $3,000 and $8,000 per month (which checks out on Meanwhile according to Techcrunch, companies are willing to pay over $30,000 per month just to make a statement against a competitor… which obviously is driving up ad rates disproprtionately to the value they provide per thousand impressions. Contrast that with a place like Vegas, and you’re talking $60k every 4 weeks. Seeing as how they can sell for over $600k in a terrible location, it may or may not be a terrible investment to give one a trial run for a month.


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What Are Billboard Ads For Those Who Don’t Know?

When you’re traveling on the road, whether on your way to work, just on a shopping spree or you’re on a road trip, a very common sight that catches your attention are the colorful, attractive billboards.

Billboards are essentially part of outdoor advertising, which is a support media category. These are large signs that are located along major roads in metro city areas or along highways. Billboards are usually used to capture the attention of local consumers and businesses and are a great way to advertise some new product, service or business to people traveling on the highways or the roads. Billboards are an effective way to reach a large number of people.


Types of Billboards

Billboard advertising has come a long way since it first started and over the years, with advancements in technology, there have been so many changes in the billboard materials, technology and styles. Today, there are a variety of different options for billboards that you can choose from. Some of the common billboard types are:


The Classical Billboard

Classical billboards are the conventional type of billboards that have been used in the past and they have traditional designs, which are designed in such a way that they attract the attention of pedestrians and motorists. Classical billboards also include the poster billboards, which are mid-sized and junior poster billboards that are much smaller in size. Bulletin billboards are the biggest billboards in this category.


Painted Billboards

Painted billboards were the most popular option in the past and in the recent years, have been replaced by graphic design billboards.


Digital Billboards

These are modern innovations and the most recent entrants into the billboard industry. Digital billboards allow changes between various different advertisements and also accommodate running text. You can rent digital billboards for a certain time period in a day or during specific times such as during the office rush hour.

3-D Billboards

3-dimensional billboards are designed in a way that the visuals look 3-dimensional in order to catch the attention of the passers-by.


Scented Billboards

Many companies have designed billboards that are scented and people can get various scents as they pass by. For instance, the company Bloom created scented billboards that produced the scent of charcoal to attract the passers-by.


Mobile Billboards

These are billboards that are placed on a car or some moving vehicle or added to events. Mobile billboards are a great way to attract the attention of consumers.

Benefits of Billboard Advertising

Billboard advertising offers major advantages compared to the other types of advertising media such as:

  • Billboard advertising offers excellent coverage, visibility, simplicity, affordability and enables you to reach out to your local consumers directly.
  • There are significant opportunities for repeated exposure of your message. For instance, any person coming to the particular area for work will be exposed to your message daily, helping you instill brand recall.
  • Although the total cost of advertising on billboards is high, the cost of the advertisements is quite low when you look at the cost per exposure compared to other media.
  • You can choose billboards that are located close to your target audience of the specific demographic you want.
  • Billboards offer round-the-clock exposure to your advertisement, irrespective of whether it is day or night.
  • It is very easy and quick to create a billboard design and once the billboard advertisement is up, then there is not much to do and billboards do not require any upkeep or continuous planning like radio and television advertisements.
  • The main reasons why billboards are popular are due to their location options and affordability. You can get billboards located everywhere and they are quite inexpensive to rent. And, if you plan to expand your business in new cities, you can advertise on billboards in the new city too.
  • Billboards are extremely visible and even if a driver wants to ignore the billboards, it is hard to do so and as people drive by, the billboard will still be in the driver’s peripheral vision, unlike television or radio ads that can be easily skipped.


Drawbacks of Billboard Advertising

  • Billboards are fixed and cannot be moved, so you must choose the right billboards in the right location. Usually, the billboards in the best locations are rented much in advance, which makes it quite difficult if you want a particular location immediately.
  • It is very difficult to target a particular audience via billboard advertising. At best, you can only know the type of people who are driving or passing through the particular area.
  • Billboards must be attractive to catch the attention of the passers-by and have a strong visual appeal, as you can’t use too many words on the billboard for the passers-by to read.
  • Motorists usually speed by the billboards and so the message must be extremely simple for a person to understand it quickly.
  • Billboards reflect the company brand and if the billboard design or message does not resonate with the audience, then it may hurt the brand.


Cost of Billboard Advertising

The costs of billboard advertising are quite expensive and sometimes may cost the advertiser even up to $2,500 for a single placement of a billboard. People find ways and means to avoid radio and television advertising; however, billboards are quite difficult to avoid, especially when you’re traveling on the road, which is why many advertisers look at billboards as an effective medium for advertising.


Billboard advertising costs depend on the city and location of the billboards. It can cost anywhere between $1,500-$4,000 per month in small to medium-sized cities in the U.S., while the costs can be as high as $14,000 or more in bigger cities such as New York City and can be as low as $250 in smaller towns in rural areas.


The billboard rental cost varies as per the:

  • The economy of the particular area where the billboards are placed.
  • The location of the billboard.
  • Estimated daily traffic (i.e. the number of exposures the billboard will get).


Factors Affecting Billboard Costs

There are various factors that affect what you pay for billboard advertising such as:


The location of the billboard is a huge factor that influences the cost of billboard rental, as the location determines who is seeing your advertisement. Advertising agencies determine the effectiveness of a particular billboard for advertising by using the standard measurement of the OOH or Out-of-Home ratings of the particular billboard, which are determined by 3 factors — circulation, impressions and demographics.


Circulation or Footfall

This is essentially the total volume of traffic (pedestrian or vehicular) passing by the billboard that will probably see the ad. The circulation figures do not really consider whether the passers-by have seen your advertisement on the billboard or not. The circulation figures can be got from the transport authorities.



This is the breakdown of the people who pass the billboard on basis of the gender, age and income level. If the demographics comprise people with a higher income level, then you can expect the cost of advertising on the billboard to be higher.



This is essentially the number of passers-by who actually see your advertisement, which is based on the billboard size, the speed at which people pass the billboard, visibility, etc. These details are usually got from the billboard’s geo-positioning and circulation figures.


The rule is simple here, the bigger the advertising space i.e. the billboard, the higher the rental cost. A larger billboard is more likely to get more impressions and as a result will have a bigger impact on the consumers. And, apart from higher rental, an advertisement on a bigger-sized billboard will have higher production costs and the placement cost will be higher too.


Clarity of Viewing

The billboard’s value is also determined by the time period for which the advertisement is viewed. While the location is a very important factor that influences the viewing clarity, it is also affected by other factors such as height, if it has any structures that block the view and if the billboard is lit at night.

Period of Display

This is essentially the period for which the advertisement is displayed on the billboard. And, a billboard’s cost increases with the duration of time, which means that the longer the period of display, the higher the cost of the rental will be.

Additional Costs of Billboard Advertising

Apart from actually hiring the billboard to display your advertisements, companies have to keep in mind some of the other associated costs of billboard advertising such as:

  • The cost that is incurred to conceptualize, design and produce the billboard advertisement.
  • The material that is commonly used for billboard advertising is vinyl since it is weather-resistant. Typically, printing of an ad on vinyl of size 14 feet x 48 feet or around 700 sqft. of material for a bulletin billboard will cost around $300-$500.
  • The designing of the billboard advertisement will also have a cost and can cost anywhere between $500-$1,000. You must hire a designer who has sufficient experience in creating ads for billboards. And, it is better to opt for a professional designer, since this particular medium of billboards is different compared to other conventional advertising media and requires specialized skills.


How Long You Should Rent a Billboard?

The advertising campaign on the billboard essentially depends on your advertising objective and your budget. While a minimum length of time for a billboard campaign to be effective is around 2 weeks, most of the advertising on billboards usually last for around 6 months.

The main plus of advertising on billboards is that it can be a great way to build trust and brand recognition among your target audience. A continuing campaign builds authenticity for your brand and continued exposures to your brand will make the consumers familiar with it over time and impact their choices.


This does not mean that short advertising campaigns on billboards are not effective. These can be really effective in influencing impulsive purchases, especially when the billboards are near the point of purchase.


If you don’t have a specific target audience or a particular location, then billboard advertising may not be the most appropriate way of lead generation. However, the cost of billboard advertising is worth it if your objective is building brand awareness or if you’re trying to drive traffic to a location close by. Billboards are a great way to build a buzz around your brand and boost your brand image.

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