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We analyzed 442K+ pieces of out of home advertising and share rates across the top 10 markets to understand the ins and outs of billboard other OOH advertising cost.
In a world thats quickly becoming dominated by digital media, you may have forgotten how vital OOH is for a brands overall marketing mix. OOH, in all its shapes and forms, has a unique ability to amplify a brands message and drive conversions in ways that other ad units simply can't.
And the good news: OOH can be a significantly more cost-effective solution for getting your brand and message in front of your target audience effectively. So, whatever your case may be, its time to stop forgetting about OOH and start thinking about how it can enhance your marketing mix.
Here are a few things you should know before diving into OOH head-first.
Have you ever wondered, how much does a billboard cost?
If so, you wont be surprised to know that, as is the case with all ad units and media types, several factors determine billboard advertising costs. The first challenge is finding an advertising company that works for your budget. Big companies like Lamar or Clear Channel are expensive, but small business owners can also find advertisement space through local businesses such as newspapers or through sponsoring local events.
Contacting a nearby billboard company is the best way to find a good deal, but there are many other ideas to consider. Factors include location, format, circulation, impressions, demographics, design, and installation.
Let's take a moment to break these down quickly:
As a general rule of thumb: the larger the market, the pricier the ad space. For example, OOH placements in major cities with high-traffic like Indianapolis, New York, or Los Angeles command higher asking prices than markets in low-traffic, rural areas.
From a pricing standpoint, real estate (read: market) plays one of the biggest roles in determining the cost of billboards. But another aspect to consider involves the location of that OOH unit within a given market.
In other words: does that ad unit suffer from any blind spots or obstructed views?
Do highway billboards command peoples attention, or are they too busy driving? Does competing outdoor advertising keep people from giving your billboard advertisement the attention it deserves? Is the advertising space obstructed by trees, construction, or city landscapes?
You get the point.
Similar to digital ads, there are many standard billboard sizes for brands to choose from. Billboard campaigns range from small, junior posters to the enormous digital billboards that adorn New York City.
But, OOH advertising is no longer just about traditional billboards. There are bus wraps, digital in-store, mobile billboards, wild postings, transit shelters, scooter decals, wallscapes, and the list goes on.
The truth is, practically any inanimate object these days can turn into an OOH ad unit. Generally speaking, the larger the format, the more costly it is to purchase and produce. The only exception to this rule is digital OOH ad units, which depend on platforms, production labor, and re-occurring campaign costs.
Circulation is the estimated number of people who will potentially see your OOH ad – or, in other words, the traffic your ad unit can get. When it comes to outdoor advertising, you can find data on high-traffic areas from local transportation or law enforcement authorities.
This is, by no means, a guarantee that this number of people will actually see the ad. Its just an estimate as to how many eyeballs may land on a billboard rental at a given time.
"Impressions" are a direct offshoot and measure of location, format, and circulation – and the easiest way to quantify (read: justify) billboard advertising cost.
Whereas circulation takes into account overall potential viewership, impressions determine the likely viewership — both reach and frequency — of your OOH ad unit.
Impressions are primarily affected by the location and size of your OOH ad unit, but we can't forget that strategic advertisement placements influence impressions. For instance, a small billboard placed near a stoplight will likely cost more than a large billboard placed on a busy street with faster speeds.
Impression analytics are measured via CPM (cost per mile) and they're often compiled by companies like Geopath
The projected ad cost will be $5 CPM, and the billboard will earn a total of 100,000 impressions.
Now, let’s do the math: [100,000/1,000] x $5 = $500.
Its really just as easy as that! Just remember that if youre hoping to own a billboard on the Sunset Strip, the price is much higher.
Its one thing to get your ad message in front of a lot of eyeballs. Its another thing to get it in front of the right viewers. This is where demographics come into play.
Thanks to enhanced OOH analytics and the rise of programmatic for digital OOH, advertisers today have more opportunities to ensure that their ad buys reach their target demographics: gender, age, income, education level, and so on.
And as you may have guessed, placing an OOH ad in a more affluent neighborhood — one where consumers potentially have higher disposable income — will raise the overall billboard advertising cost.
After all, theres a direct correlation between getting your brand in front of consumers who can buy what youre selling and getting them to act on a call-to-action.
While demographics directly relate to the media placement, design costs ultimately come down to your brand awareness, how well you communicate your vision coming to life and the quality of graphic designers.
For larger billboards, complicated street furniture placements, or immersive digital OOH ads, you may need to hire designers that specialize in those formats. Specialty designs always cost more, but with the right experience, graphic designers are worth every dollar.
Production costs are one of the many reasons why big brands either hire agencies or build in-house agencies of their own. Creative projects can require costly revisions and if youre working with a graphic that youd like to update, finding a new designer with the same software or templates is very difficult.
Installation cost also depends on the type of advertising space purchased and how you bring the ad to life. In other words, installing a standard vinyl billboard wont cost the same as a mobile billboard or running a digital OOH campaign on Google or social media.
Vinyl billboards tend to charge per square foot, while social media campaigns depend on ads and influencer talents. Google advertisements are probably the most accessible format to attain, but neither Google or Instagram can grab the type of OOH marketing you want.
The moral of the story: Understand the total cost of your OOH media — including design, production, installation — before committing to your ad buy. Otherwise, you could run into some surprises in the 11th hour (and no one ever likes those, especially of the budgetary sort!)
Now that youve got a clear understanding of billboard pricing factors, youre probably wondering how to calculate the cost of OOH media in various markets.
Until recently, this hasnt been an easy thing to do. Most advertisers have to reach out to the media companies themselves for this information — which can sometimes feel like pulling teeth — or work with media agencies to do the heavy lifting of understanding these details.
AdQuick has changed that dynamic entirely. We've created a unique Billboard Pricing Tool that leverages our proprietary data to get a clear and accurate snapshot of what the most common OOH media types cost in virtually any given metro area, city, or even zip code.
This is a one-of-a-kind tool that no one else in the OOH industry offers. So, consider it our special gift to you because it will save you time and energy finding the pricing information you need to make informed decisions about what OOH media you buy and where you buy it.
Not to mention, it will give you comparative data to understand the real value of OOH media versus the costs of purchasing and producing traditional (TV, print, radio) and digital (display, social, mobile, video) ad units.
Don't be surprised if you find its a steal!
So, to give you a clear idea of just how powerful this tool is, we've used it (proactively) to price out current median media costs across the top 10 OOH media markets:
The moral of this story should be reasonably clear:
Theres a tremendous amount of value you can gain by weaving OOH advertising into your overall marketing mix.
When thinking about OOH, its easy to get stuck in the trap of believing that the OOH units that matter most are those within broader, expensive media markets.
And while those markets are undoubtedly important, many of your target consumers don't necessarily live in those markets.
So, consider branching out and, if youre still somewhat skeptical about the impact that OOH media can make on your business, test the waters by launching OOH campaigns in smaller, less saturated, and less expensive media markets.
Its an excellent way for you to test creative, pinpoint specific target audiences, trial various OOH ad formats, and a lot more before spending your valuable ad budgets in broader, more expensive media markets.
Of course, as the team thats working hard to democratize OOH advertising, we are here to help you along this OOH journey.
Because as relevant as understanding billboard advertising cost might be, whats really at stake here is getting your brand and message in front of consumers that will act on it.
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