Billboard advertising 101: making the most of outdoor advertising

Booking billboard advertising with The Bank is easy and free - where 100% of your advertising budget goes on the ads. We will support with creative production, outdoor media buying and management of your billboard campaign.
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Billboard advertising boards are a form of out of home advertising. There are thousands of sites across the UK owned by some of the largest outdoor advertising companies like JC Decaux, Global and Clear Channel. A huge number of independent advertising poster positions are also available.

These billboard advertising spots give brands huge impact because of their super sized dimension. Large format ad space of 48 and 96 sheet size are available, with the latter a huge 12 metres wide! Increasingly this type of outdoor advert can be bought both as traditional advertising posters and as digital billboards.

Do billboard campaigns work?

Absolutely! If I ask you to picture Piccadilly Circus in London you’ll immediately recall the bright LED advertisements that wrap the fountain and statue of Anteros (news for you, it’s not Eros) You’ll probably even recall some of the brands like Coca Cola and Sanyo that dominated the site for site for years, even if you haven’t been to London for some time.

A billboard advertising campaign is one of the most high impact advertisement campaign types you can deliver. Done right, a billboard advert can deliver impact, instant recall and is a real statement of intent for brand awareness. Aside from advertising on your website, it’s the only way to get you name out there 24 hours a day.

There are many factors to making it a success. In this article we’ll show you how to make these type of adverts work for your business, help you use it for brand awareness, perfect your billboard designs and lower the cost of these advertising panels to maximise your marketing budgets.

Delivering a billboard campaign that gives results

Billboard advertising boards have strong regional and national coverage. Striking large outdoor advertising space like these are found across most regions of the country. Billboards are typically based roadside on urban commuter routes and will often be found side by side creating walls of advertising opportunity. Increasingly they are also available in high traffic areas like town centres and other large hubs that attract a lot of people. Shopping centres, airports and train stations now carry billboard advertising format which is great way to quickly get in touch with lots of people.

Despite the obvious use of billboards for advertisers to reach more people with their message – because their large format and placement with audiences – many businesses (or their ad agency) get billboard planning completely wrong.

Avoiding mistakes in billboard advertising

It isn’t uncommon to see rows of outdoor advertising sites filled with an advertisement for a single brand. What’s more you can often experience high end businesses running a campaign, with their advertising campaign displayed in the wrong parts of town where their information will never connect with brand audiences.

Why does this happen?

Why less is often more

With outdoor advertising and billboards in particular, less is often much more. All large format locations across the UK are not created equal and billboard ads should be planned and bought according to the brand and business requirements. Too frequently media buyers will plan in a way that seeks to maximise the number of ad locations against the available budget. Typically the client sees a large number of locations being delivered on budget. But this isn’t cost effective as often these cheaper, high volume sites are located in less populated or well positioned areas. For companies that need impact and reach, these are not the ad positions you should be striving for. Pay a higher cost, for more prominent spaces and see the impact on your results.

Position, position, position…

There is a perception around outdoor advertising like billboards and other forms such as bus advertising that position doesn’t matter. Are you kidding? This is a placement of your message outdoors! The placement is the most vital part of this kind of advertising campaign.

The reason to go with out-of-home advertising like this is to connect with those who are outside. Whether commuting back and forth from work, or enjoying leisure time, placing the billboard advertising creative on formats most likely to connect with your target market is the way that advertisers will get huge results. At The Bank, we use insight – primary and secondary research – to follow the flow of your target market. Billboard placement can be hand picked even on a national basis to maximise your reach with your target market – be that mainstream targeting where you’re aiming for volume of footfall, focused on specific demographics or interests, or time restricted to target specific people at a certain time.

Why use an outdoor advertising agency and what to look out for

A media buying agency like The Bank support advertisers in a number of ways.

As we’ve highlighted, having an intimate working knowledge of billboard advertising opportunities on a national and regional basis is key. As your agency, The Bank will determine the best traffic areas and location for your advertisement whether it’s one billboard placement or your running a UK wide campaign. So if you’ve seen a billboard you think would be great for your message, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll make the booking and help you develop the campaign further.

Using an advertising agency is a lot more cost effective that booking direct. Not only does our buying power support a reduction in billboard advertising cost when compared to booking direct, using a media planning agency like The Bank is also free of charge. Our business is compensated when we place your ad across all of the major companies (like Clear Channel and others)- they pay us – meaning there’s never a cost to you. Depending on the size of your campaign, we can extend support across all bookings free of charge making the use of a media planner the most cost effective method of advertising.

Finally using an agency like The Bank lowers production costs. It’s our job to ensure your billboard design gives a great impression across every location, so we can take care of many factors in your adverts to support lowering costs. This includes main creative, production design, artwork distribution and the coordination of information between the various suppliers.

How much does billboard advertising cost?

Outdoor advertising board pricing is different based on their location and the number of “opportunities to see”. That last metric translates as, how many eyeballs will be seeing it. Typically media owners base this footfall – pedestrians or number of vehicles – passing an advertising board location. The greater the number, the higher the price.

In basic terms, billboard advertising costs are typically anywhere between £600 and £2400 plus VAT per week, per advertising board although of course there are several iconic, unique locations that can be much more expensive. Large outdoor billboards usually require at least a 2 week commitment, based on the fitting demands. Of course these billboard advertising costs don’t take into account bulk buying and agency discounts. These are obtainable through proper media planning via an accredited agency like The Bank, who buy for several clients across the media inventory owners and remember, our advice will cost you nothing.

Advantages of billboard advertising

The main advantage of billboard advertising boards is their size. Most run between 6 and 12 metres wide. In some cases even larger formats exist although these tend to be unique to very large cities. They are huge spots that make for wonderful, high impact creative.

Location is the all important advantage of billboard advertising. There is no other method of advertising that can get your message or brand name so close to the country’s roadsides or in touch with visitors to major retail centres across the UK.

As they’re full colour and mostly illuminated, it’s a superb showcase for businesses and their products. Tending to be high up and hard to reach means that they’re less likely to get vandalised than street level advertising furniture, preserving the quality of your message.

While traditional advertising boards must be bought in specific “posting” blocks because of the specialist fitting, digital billboards are very agile. Digital advertising boards allow flexible booking and quick creative activation offering brands the ultimate flexibility.

Billboard advertising creative

To get the most impact from billboard advertising, good creative is essential. Yes the canvas is huge, but the average length of time a user has to consume your message is tiny. Surprisingly, less components on the creative assets are better giving the consumer a clear channel to understand your billboard design.

The biggest mistake is to fill this huge canvas with lots of wording or information. Often it makes messages barely legible when consumed from so far away. Instead go for one highly impactful message with the right photography, typefaces and simple calls to action (website or phone) that are easily memorable. For the ultimate acid test, viewing your creative on screen from at least 12 feet away will help you experience an accurate impression of the final result.

Of course The Bank, as a creative agency, are fully accustomed to solving these creative challenges. We handle outdoor advertising design and production on a regular basis. It usually forms part of the creative toolkit when we develop campaigns, ensuring the assets will work at the largest formats. We create the type aspirational design that works brilliantly on billboards, allowing for easy consumption. We’re also frequently working on digital versions now, with brilliant colouring and subtle animation to maximise the medium.

Billboard advertising sizes

The two most common billboard advertising sizes are 48 sheet and 96 sheet, the difference being the width. The name refers to the physical number of paper “sheets” it requires to fill the space. The printing process involves splitting the bigger image across smaller spec posters which are 20″ x 30″.

Therefore –

  • 48 sheet sizing is 6.096 x 3.048m
  • 96 sheet sizing is 12.192m x 3.048m

While we’re delighted if creatives have made it here to support your design work, you should note that outdoor media owners have slightly different specifications around artwork sizing, provision and formatting for each individual billboard. You should take care to follow the guides before assuming dimensions to be correct.

The Bank handle all aspects of creative design, production artwork (getting the right messages to the right places) and media planning for all sorts of advertising and media – including billboard advertising. To discuss your needs, get in touch via the website with information about your needs and we’ll be happy to help.

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