How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Billboard?

Will your business invest in outdoor advertising this year? When planning your next campaign, consider how billboard costs fit into your budget.

Out of home (OOH) advertising is a standard-yet-popular way to improve brand visibility. Even in the digital age, large-scale print advertisements capture our attention while driving. For small business owners with a limited ad budget, the average billboard cost is viable. An outdoor ad complements your digital strategy. Plus, it boosts the effectiveness of your campaigns.

If you want to change up your marketing strategy and create a billboard campaign, then where do you start?

First, ask how much does a billboard cost? Price factors include design, construction and billboard advertising costs. Next, consider if you'll use a standard or a digital billboard. Lastly, decide how OOH advertising fits into your small business communications plan.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Billboard?

The average billboard cost varies by location. In some areas, you'll pay a hefty price tag to rent a billboard. However, "for each dollar spent, an average of $5.97 is generated in product sales," says the Outdoor Advertising Association of America(OAAA).

Geopath, a billboard rating bureau, helps determine billboard advertising costs. This nonprofit organization operates independently from billboard owners. A board of professionals, including media companies, advertisers and agencies, provide oversight. By collecting data from various sources, it delivers accurate audience location measurements.

Geopath audits billboard locations and bases pricing on several factors:

1. Circulation

For starters, your cost depends on the number of impressions your billboard ad gets. Geopath collects data about traffic volume from transportation authorities. It then uses this information to estimate how many people pass a display on any given week.

But just because people drive by the billboard does not mean they look at it. That's why Geopath gathers other data as well.

2. Contact Zone

Geopath reviews the size and placement of the billboard. It maps the display position using a geo-positioning OOH unit and takes into consideration how far or close you need to be to see the signage. Geopath factors in road type and display size to determine a maximum noting distance. Billboards come in three sizes:

  • Bulletin billboards: 14 feet by 48 feet
  • Poster billboards: 10 feet by 22 feet
  • Junior poster billboards: 6 feet by 12 feet

The larger the billboard, the larger the contact zone. Placement is equally important. Billboards near a curvy road have a different contact zone than those on a straight highway.

3. Traffic Speed

Billboard costs also depend on traffic speed. Billboards near slow traffic may receive more impressions than one on a busy highway. Geopath collects data from INRIX, a traffic analytics provider. Insights include:

  • The average speed of traffic moving through the area
  • How traffic volume changes by the hour and day during a week
  • The length of time people spend in the contact zone (dwell time)

Geopath combines this data with high-tech eye-tracking research for a sound estimate.

4. Demographics and Competition

Lastly, two other factors come into play—demographics and competition. Travel surveys give details about travelers, including demographic characteristics and trip origin data.

The second part is outdoor display competition. In cities with regulations, there may be more space between billboards. This distance keeps billboard cost higher. In places with little or no sign rules, you may see several outdoor ads in one area. These billboards tend to cost less.

How to Determine Average Billboard Rental Cost

So if you ask, “How much does a billboard cost?” The answer is it depends. Most rentals cover a four-week timeframe. Your price depends on the cost per mile (CPM), which is the cost per thousand impressions. According to PJ SOLOMON, a financial advisory firm, the average billboard cost is $5.21 per every thousand impressions.

For instance, a country road with 20,000 views costs far less than one located on a busy highway. Ask the billboard company for data before making a decision.

You’ll also pay more for displays with 24-hour lighting. But some rental companies let you choose hours of illumination. In this case, you could opt to turn off the lighting according to your store hours.

Once you have a set figure for your billboard rental, figure out your design and production costs.

Billboard Costs: Design and Construction

Billboard design and production consume a part of your budget. It's crucial to hire a professional with large-scale print ad experience. Also, factor in the price of billboard construction. Both expenses are necessary for a successful OOH campaign.

Billboard Design Costs

Start with a professional design firm or graphic designer. Your outdoor ad is a form of visual storytelling. The best designers create high-converting ads with:

  • Striking images that boost brand visibility
  • A clear call to action that raises conversions

Graphics and text distort over large spaces. A skilled designer accounts for lighting, angles and display size.

Local designers may be privy to extra information. For instance, data about how prior billboards performed in that location may help you. Either way, you can expect to pay between $500-$1000 for the design part of your billboard ad.

Billboard Construction Costs

With a design in hand, you need to produce the ad next. Your production costs depend on the design and colors used. You'll also need to pay for the billboard material, which is vinyl. Companies use vinyl due to its sun-resistant and weather-proof qualities.

You'll typically spend around $0.50 per square foot for a vinyl billboard. The larger the billboard, the more you'll pay for production costs.

Billboards: Physical or Digital?

Select billboards that fit into your communications strategy. Digital or smart highway billboards cost more but offer extra features. The average billboard price increases by thousands of dollars for digital displays.

The higher price stems from stiff competition. Fewer electronic boards exist, but the number is growing. Digital out of home media (DOOH) also delivers a high return on investment. According to the Digital Out of Home report, "Digital display ads can increase brand awareness by 47.7% and increase purchase amounts by 29.5%."

The digital billboard cost plays a big role in your decision. Take a look at what’s available in your area. Then consider the pros and cons of different display formats.

Digital Billboard Costs: Advantages

DOOH ads give viewers a memorable experience, like what they find online. The pros of digital billboards include:

  • LED lighting and motion graphics attract attention
  • Flexibility to change content and keep your display fresh
  • Short videos boost brand visibility
  • Options for more than one call to action

However, digital billboard costs more than standard displays. You’ll want to balance this expense by looking at your possible return on investment (ROI). Plus, as the number of electronic boards rises, the price may drop.

Digital ads fit well with your online marketing strategy, as exposure to outdoor ads continues to grow. Statista and OAAAdata suggest that digital ad exposure will grow to "about 1.23 hours per week by 2023."

Standard Billboard Costs: Advantages

With physical billboards, you'll pay less because there are more of them. Although not as flashy as digital billboards, lighting increases views. You may choose to illuminate the display 24-hours a day. The biggest advantage of print advertisements is the lower price, so it’s vital to compute your ROI before making a final decision.

Estimate Your Billboard Advertising Costs

Before making a decision, look at various billboards in your area. Talk to rental companies and see how the prices differ. Determine your total cost by breaking down your:

  • Billboard advertising costs
  • Design expenses
  • Construction expenses

Factor in the billboard’s visibility and the potential number of impressions. Then, determine your overall ROI.

Are Billboards Right for Your Small Business?

Billboards help increase brand visibility and promote your latest product. Out of home ads do not limit you to digital channels. That flexibility helps you reach more customers.

However, figuring out ROI is tricky, and you cannot target specific people. So it's essential to consider the pros and cons of outdoor advertising. For best results, review how you communicate with customers, such as web conferencing and digital ads. Then determine how billboards fit into your plan.

The Pros of Billboard Advertising

Customers use ad blockers and email filters to avoid online marketing messages. On the flip side, the size and placement of physical signs make your message hard to avoid. Billboard advertising helps you:

1. Boost Local Business Visibility

The key to brand awareness is customer recognition. A memorable sign gets people talking. Those conversations increase foot traffic to your business.

Furthermore, large-scale print ads stick out in people's minds. Take advantage by:

  • Sharing directions to your store on your display
  • Adding social proof like user-generated content to your digital ad
  • Creating a billboard design that matches your storefront
  • Tackling a customer pain point and sharing a clear benefit

2. Drive Traffic to Online Channels

People who see your billboard are more likely to search for your company online. After seeing your ad, they either use a search engine or head to social media. OAAA reports that nearly 46% of US adults search for info after seeing or hearing an OOH ad.

Moreover, almost "40% have visited a Facebook page or posted a message on Facebook after seeing an OOH ad." With numbers like these, can you risk not using billboard ads?

3. Diversify Advertising Efforts

Platforms and consumer behavior changes all the time. It's vital to mix up your marketing channels and not rely on one platform. Although your views may drop on Twitter next month, those people still drive to work every day.

The Advertising Research Foundation finds a 31% increase in ROI when using up to four ad channels. When factoring your billboard advertising costs, consider the benefits of diversification.

4. Make Your Budget Spread Farther

As the cost of digital advertising rises, it's challenging to divvy up your budget. Keep in mind, however, that the average billboard cost remains within reach of small business owners. Outdoor displays give you access to the billions of travelers on the roads.

Combine billboards with your unified communications strategy to increase brand visibility without sacrificing customer experience.

5. Support Your Marketing Strategy

Your customers recognize your company after 5-7 brand views. By creating campaigns that include a mix of formats, you're increasing your exposure. In fact, "58% of people buy a product after seeing an OOH ad five times," according to OAAA.

Using a billboard gives consumers the consistency they crave. In return, you'll see a higher return on investment and help your sales and marketing teams.

The Cons of Billboard Advertising

Billboards offer plenty of advantages, but it’s hard to measure the results. You cannot use standard digital performance metrics to track conversions. This uncertainty makes it hard for owners to justify billboard advertising costs.

Another issue is with targeting. Many travelers outside of your ideal customers see your display. This means those who respond to your message may not turn into clients. But you can get around both disadvantages by:

  • Adding a website form to ask how customers find your site
  • Using customer surveys to see how many people saw your outdoor display
  • Creating billboard designs with your target market in mind

8x8 Express: Make the Right Impression

Impressions drive sales, and your response affects your customer's experience and satisfaction. Deliver the same message across analog and digital channels for maximum impact. Boost your marketing and advertising campaigns by focusing on communication:

  • Create physical presence using billboards in targeted areas
  • Develop digital advertising campaigns on popular channels
  • Serve customers on the platforms they prefer
  • Use unified communications to respond to leads and customers
  • Reduce response times with an updated phone system

With a people-first approach, your customers benefit. Put communications in one spot, so it's easier to track conversions from all platforms.

Get the easiest and most affordable phone system for your small office or home-based business. 8x8 Express provides you with unlimited calling, HD audio and video conferencing, business SMS and more. Start your free 30-day trial today!

Kent Yunk

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I’ve been getting my hands dirty with marketing and website design to help businesses streamline site performance and grow traffic for nearly 15 years. I frequent the waters of small and enterprise-level businesses to help them rescue or increase their high-level revenue streams. I also developed opportunity modeling techniques for companies with multiple sites across the same industry. Ultimately my goal for my clients and employers is not just to bring in more revenue through better rankings, but to change the way they look at marketing and [...] Read More >

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