Billboards Still Thrive in the Digital Age

In this increasingly digitized world, social media has been a boon to businesses from every industry. With the click of a button, marketing campaigns can span the globe in mere seconds and lines of communication are opened wide. In fact, a recent survey reported that 54% of Twitter users took action after seeing a brand mentioned in a Tweet. In marketing terms, that’s a fast conversion!

Despite the rise of online marketing and huge advances in communication technology, print media has refused to die. When Axl Rose and his former Guns N’ Roses bandmates agreed to reunite for their 2016 North American tour, they announced their comeback in a totally old-school way. Without a single Tweet or Snapchat, Guns N’ Roses put up a flashy electronic billboard featuring their logo and famous song titles. And it was a hit! Ticket sales soared.

Big-name brands like McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Comcast have been successfully using billboards for decades, and now even tech companies like Snapchat are following suit.

Surprisingly, billboard companies aren’t just surviving — they’re thriving. According to Kantar Media and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, spending on this type of advertising has risen for 24 consecutive quarters. Between 2009 and 2015, spending on outdoor advertising surged from $5.9 billion to $7.3 billion.

“Digital has been sucking media dollars out of press and radio, but our audience has been growing,” stated Jeremy Male, chief executive of Outfront Media.

According to James Gross, a managing director at Barrington Research, the reason behind the growth in outdoor advertising is the increase in time people are spending outside their homes.

“You can’t TiVo a sign,” he said. “So they have a captive audience.”

Though billboards may seem out-of-date, they’re not impervious to the wave of new-age technology. Billboards are no longer static photos with simple captions. Now, electronic billboards show videos, stream live events, and have interactive features to engage passersby.

Naturally, some of the same old rules still apply. For instance, it is still a good rule of thumb to add an inch of height to the text size for every foot away you expect viewers to stand.

By marrying new tech with timeless marketing strategy, many companies are choosing to promote their products and services on good old billboards.

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