In 1835, Jared Bell invented some of the very first billboards, showcasing “The Great Wallace Shows” in 9-foot-by-6-foot Ads. Long before, traders painted posters and signage and hung them on walls and fences to advertise their offerings. The trend caught fire. By 1860, mass-produced outdoor advertising was being used on street railways, and it became possible for companies to purchase outdoor advertising space.
We recently put out a billboard campaign for a client last week, measuring the results – we dug deeper into this aspect of marketing communication, predicting its future and highlighting its pros and cons. Billboards are a form or expression of outdoor advertising – advertising that reaches consumers when they are outside their homes. Billboards are usually placed next to high-traffic highways and along less-travelled roads in non-urban areas. This form of advertising holds tremendous benefits as it helps the brand gain credibility, stand out amongst competitors and reach a wider range of its audience with a single campaign. It is a traditional way of promoting a brand that just may never go out of style.
According to the rule of 7 by marketing professional Dr Jeffrey Lant, prospects must be exposed to a product at least seven times before they make a buying decision. Billboard advertising exposes your brand and increases awareness about your products or services. The more people see and hear about your brand, the more you gain credibility and trust with your audience, which are core factors influencing their buying decision.
Compared to other advertising channels such as radio, TV, and online, billboard advertising proves to be the second most effective medium for promotion and awareness, following radio.
Billboard advertising widens your reach, giving you more views as billboards are usually located on busy highways and at places with increased commercial activity.
In Nigeria today, billboard marketing is one of the most prominent means of advertising. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association Of Nigeria (OAAN), it is recorded that billboard marketing in Nigeria is the second most effective means of advertising. The average number of citizens in Nigeria who view billboards daily is summed up to 95% of the nation’s total population. Every street, estate, road, and highway in Nigeria is flooded with billboard adverts from different angles. The OAAN, in collaboration with Geopol, conducted research on how billboards get more reach than online/social media and televisions.
Below is the statistics table given from the research.
Billboard adverts differ based on your marketing campaign needs and other criteria such as size, content form, etc. Thanks to this, small and large-scale businesses can choose what type of billboard advert fits their budget.
These billboards are majorly seen on highways and expressways or heavy traffic streets. Classic billboards can be found in sizes of (14′ high x 48′ wide, 10.5′ high x 36′ wide, or comparable sizes and are designed to capture the attention of both pedestrians and motorists. Due to the speed of motorist traffic, these billboards are intended to give the motorist enough time to take in the advertisement.
Vinyl billboards have a much brighter appearance which usually makes them more appealing than ordinary billboards. They are regularly spread painted with UV defensive paint and can keep going for quite a long time. The usual sizes are (14′ high x 48’wide, 10.5′ high x 36′ wide, or comparable sizes).
With the presence of graphically produced billboards, these kinds of billboards are no longer common. However, where only a single board is required, they are still used in some areas.
These are usually half the width of bulletin boards and are primarily used for advertising local products. They are a regular feature in the local markets, and their sizes range between (10′ high x 22′ wide or 5′ high x 11′ widths).
The purpose of mobile billboards is to go to where their target audience is. An example is adverts wrapped around buses and other large vehicles.
These are a modern type of billboards and capture the attention and interest of all who see them due to the artistry they often contain.
Digital billboards create an imposing presence in any environment and are almost impossible to ignore. They are programmable, allowing for running text to be displayed, and are mostly found within very strategic locations and can easily be noticed by many people. A digital billboard is guaranteed to create a buzz in any market. We used digital billboards for our recent campaign.
Wallscape billboards are also a form of digital billboards in which advert messages are painted on the wall in mural form or distinctly attached to the wall. This type of billboard advert is usually found on the wall of high-profile buildings and in strategic locations.
Your content needs to make an impact to maintain a positive brand image and identity. With more and more businesses investing in their digital strategy, this is becoming a challenge. Brands have to come up with unique ideas that will enable them to leave a good lasting impression on their customers. There are new trends in billboard advertising that brands are taking advantage of;
An interactive billboard advert is a promotion that requires active participation from the audience. It is an advertisement that will change through an action played by a viewer.
In 2018, telecommunications giant, MTN, launched the MTN Man in the Box campaign in which a man was seen working in an office embedded in a billboard. The billboard was positioned along the Victoria Island/Lekki expressway and garnered a lot of attention for the brand offline and online. This was after the brand revealed that the man in the box represented MTN working round the clock in supporting businesses with technological solutions. Some weeks later, the brand took it a notch higher by showcasing SMEs and their products in the billboard box for free. The billboard also had LED screens showing information about the business.
The campaign had remarkable results for MTN and the featured businesses as its objectives were channelled at raising public awareness about MTN’s ability to cater to all businesses’ communication, collaboration, and connectivity needs. One of the business owners attested to receiving calls and offers from prospective customers, one of which was a multinational company. The #MANINTHEBOX hashtag trended for weeks as motorists and pedestrians were presented with different businesses at intervals.
2D advertising has been around for some time, but the most recent advertising trends involve 3D advertising. In 3D advertising, objects and images can pop out of place, giving viewers and potential customers a better feel of the product and how it would work. As a result, it has been said to drive better user engagement, improve the quality of your advertising campaign, and be more impactful. For example, Coca-Cola’s “share a coke” campaign employed a 3D billboard.
While billboard advertising can effectively position your brand as credible and reliable, it can stir up controversy and lead to a crisis when set up in the wrong context, just like any other marketing campaign. Essentially, adverts are expected to put your brand in the spotlight, but if publicly misinterpreted, they can lead to loss of customers, money, and public goodwill. Some advertising campaigns have stirred controversy due to several factors costing the brand significant losses. Controversy can arise from any point, so it is necessary to observe the current societal trends and cultural context in which you will run your campaign to avoid a crisis.
In 2017, Dove, a global skincare brand, published an advert that showed a black woman turning into a white woman after using the dove body lotion. The controversial waters got stirred as the advert was termed racist. The company had to make a public apology and withdraw the advert.
Similarly, Nivea faced a backlash following the release of their advert, which was themed “visibly fairer skin.” The advert, which featured Nigerian beauty queen Omowunmi Akinnifesi becoming fairer as she applied the lotion on her body, received several backlashes. The public called for the pulling down of the advert while stating that darker skin tones are also beautiful.
Pepsi’s “Live for Now” campaign featured a video of youths protesting just before American model Kendall Jenner stepped in to save the day and stop police brutality by offering a can of Pepsi to a police officer. Unfortunately, this advert aired right in the heat of the Black Lives Matter Protests and was considered insensitive. As a result, the brand was accused of trivialising the movement and had to offer an apology after taking down the advert.
In 2021, Burger King (a fast-food brand) tweeted, “women belong in the kitchen” in celebration of International Women’s Day. While they made the tweet to announce scholarships for their female employees to pursue their culinary dreams, the public deemed it inappropriate, and the company had to offer an apology.
The price of billboard advertising in Nigeria varies based on certain factors. For example, the cost of billboard advertisements in Lagos differs based on location. Areas like Victoria Island, Marina, Lekki, Banana Island, and Ikeja seem to have higher pricing for billboard adverts than any other place in Lagos – because these places are major centres in the state. Pricing can range from 1,00,000NGN to 3,000,000NGN monthly based on factors such as location, size of the billboard, and duration.
While billboard advertising is a form of advertising that has existed over the years, online platforms have also become marketing channels that brands utilise in promoting their products. This form of online marketing is what is termed Digital Marketing. Digital marketing is a range of efforts channelled towards marketing your goods and services using online platforms. It involves a more targeted and specific means of generating leads and acquiring customers. Unlike billboard advertising, you can decide your target audience and measure the impact of your digital marketing campaign via analytics and insights from the platforms utilised.
Billboard advertising is a more generalised effort at marketing where products or services are displayed on the billboard and placed at strategic positions for passers-by to see. While it is an effective marketing method harnessed by a lot of brands, the challenge is in measuring the impact of the advertising campaign. You can make an estimate of how many people viewed the billboard but specific figures cannot be gotten. Despite the different marketing channels that have sprung up over time, billboard advertising has remained a popular form of advertising that businesses take advantage of. However, both marketing methods are effective in their own way with their pros and cons.
Advertisers and agencies can achieve the best results from billboard advertisements through proper planning. The steps below will help you achieve a successful billboard campaign;
Set your goals and plans
Choose your target audience
Choose the billboard type
Creating advert content (billboard design)
Get advertisement vetted by APCON
Identify the best locations
Mark out your budget
Monitor and evaluate your campaign
Where there is no goal, results are undefined and immeasurable, “you get what you get.” The goal for the billboard campaign we launched was for Brand Awareness and Positioning; we already had enough leads for the product. Our win was measured in terms of the number of shares we got from strangers and reposts of the billboard’s image on social media. Interestingly, this Brand Awareness converted to massive engagement and lead generation.
Having set your goals clearly in mind, the next phase is to determine your audience. Know the type of people that would most likely get attracted to the message you are trying to pass or the product you are trying to advertise. Our target audience played a vital role in choosing our billboard location for our campaign.
When choosing the type of billboard, consider the location, your budget, your audience, and the kind of business you wish to advertise. Then, you can decide whether to use traditional billboard billboards or cheaper, smaller billboard posters. Placing a digital billboard advert is also an option, which entails short videos that are repeatedly displayed. Digital billboard adverts are more memorable and engaging if they are well-designed.
The Advertising Practitioners Of Nigeria (APCON) is expected to review any form of advertisement before it is displayed for public viewing. This is in place to curb unpleasant content such as hate speech or derogatory remarks before publication.
The effectiveness of billboard advertising is primarily determined by where it is placed. Therefore, you need to consider where you will be setting up your advert to know if it will give you the expected engagement rate. In 2021, Kuda Microfinance bank launched a series of marketing campaigns to set up billboard adverts on major highways and busy roads in Lagos with high traffic jams, such as the Lekki-Epe expressway, Third Mainland Bridge, Ozumba Mbadiwe expressway, and other strategic locations. The campaign was deemed successful as it reported that its customer base had crossed the 1 million mark by December 2021.
In marking your budget for a billboard advert, you consider your target audience and their location, media type, the exposure you need, and the amount you wish to spend. With these tips, you will be able to work according to your funding and lay out a friendly budget for your billboard campaign
A popular saying in business is “what gets measured, gets done”. So tracking your sales before, during, and after running an advert will help measure the advertisement’s effectiveness. It’s also essential to keep a record of new accounts and calls in-store and online after launching a new advertising campaign. You can also survey new customers, including options on how they got to see or know about your brand.
Billboard Advertising is one of the common forms of outdoor advertising for any brand and can generate a massive profit for your business. However, your billboard campaign has to get approval from necessary regulatory bodies to ensure you are not violating any rules. You can also work with professional outdoor advertising experts who know how to create attention-grabbing billboards. They know where to place them to build brand recognition with your niche market. These professionals also have the tools to measure viewer reactions and help clients adjust for maximum return on investment.