Why Billboard Advertising Is Not Worth It for Small Businesses

An in-depth look at the negatives of billboard advertising for small businesses and some modern day solutions.

Wesley Mann

November 26, 2019

In This Topic: Digital Marketing

Billboard advertising has a large market presence throughout the world and is considered to some as the most appealing advertising platform. However, with technological advancements made in the advertising industry, there are many methods that now trump its effectiveness.

In this blog post, we will get down to the details of why billboard advertising is a method of the past for small businesses. We will also include some suggestions for the future. So let’s dive in!

1. Billboard advertising is expensive.


The overall expenditure required for carrying out a this type of advertising campaign involves many components which causes it to be expensive.

Initial installation and maintenance to deal with wear and tear of the billboard is a large component of this. The space required is also subject to property taxes and guess who helps pay those?? That would be you. Electricity will be needed in most cases to power the lights so the advertisement can be seen at night. There is also installation costs to have your advertisement displayed.

Let’s just hope Canada’s tough winters don’t destroy that precious advertisement!!

All these components play a role in raising the price. One additional thing to consider is if you would like to change your advertisement it will take time, resources, and cost you additional money.

2. With billboard advertising it is tough to track effectiveness.


The biggest struggle with traditional methods of advertising is the difficulty tracking effectiveness. Unless an individual comes in your store and says, “I saw your billboard” you will otherwise have no idea if it is effective. With Facebook, Instagram & Google advertising you are able to see exactly who is engaging with your advertisements and the actions they take on them. This just isn’t possible with a billboard.

With this method of advertising you will have to estimate number of impressions, and reach. This can be inaccurate and a real pain to figure out. Even if you did figure out how many unique views your ad was getting, it would be impossible to figure out the exact demographic.

You could manually track the effectiveness of your billboard by asking every potential customer how they heard about you. But wouldn’t it be nice to have this done for you automatically? With digital advertising you can do just this. You can see what demographic your ads are resonating with, which ads are working, how much its costing you per engagement, and much more.

Simply put, traditional advertising methods are not comparable to digital advertising for tracking effectiveness.

3. You cannot target specific demographics with a billboard.


Specificity is a lacking factor in traditional modes of advertising. Yes, you can position billboards in certain areas where you can estimate demographic tendencies, but you can’t only show it to specific people. You are paying for impressions of both your target audience and the general population.

In the case of a digital advertising campaign, the audience can be selected by a number of variables such as behaviors, interests and demographics. We actually posted on Instagram about the power of Facebook’s audience insights just last week that you can take a look at! Advertisers can use several parameters to help the effectiveness of their ad targeting like:

  • Language
  • Job Title
  • Education
  • Relationship status
  • # of children
  • Political views
  • Life Events

These are advanced criteria and are in addition to the basic. As you can see, you can target who you want and no one that you don’t with digital advertising. With billboards this is impossible.

4. Lack of engagement with medium of advertising.


Between the 2 options below, what ad makes it easier to call the business advertising?

Option 1: Seeing an ad on Facebook with a call now button that with one click your phone will start dialing.

Option 2: You are driving and see a billboard with a phone number on it. You grab your phone to put in the phone number before you drive past it. Only to realize you don’t have enough time to enter the phone number. Now you either have to wait until you drive past it again or google the company.

First off, option 2 is quite dangerous. It is also a far less effective way of advertising because of the difficulty to engage with the billboard. With a billboard no action is made easily available for you to learn more, call, email, etc,. This gravely lowers the engagement rate of your ad. With digital advertising it is easy to view a Facebook page, website, app, or anything else for that matter.

There you have it, why billboard advertising is no longer worth it for small businesses. But have no fear, there are tons of cost effective digital options out there for your business, and I mean tons… So if you have a tough time navigating all the information on the internet about these topics then feel free to reach out! You can also learn more from our digital advertising page.

Goodluck with your small business advertising!

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