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Five Things You’re Doing Wrong with Your Billboard Ads

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Apr 05, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

As new channels become available to marketers and integrative campaigns become even more complex (and CMOs become even more accountable for delivering big results), it becomes increasingly important to make every advertising dollar count.

Billboard advertising remains an incredibly effective way of reaching an audience and getting a nice return on your investment. That is, if you don’t screw it up.

Here are 5 things you’re doing wrong with your billboard ads:

  1. You’re Writing the Great American Novel

Your billboard should not read like a novel. It should be short and sweet, containing no more than six words. Remember, people will see your billboard when they’re driving, so they literally don’t have time to read much more than six words. When you only have a few seconds to get your message across, you’ve got to make sure that every word counts.

  1. You’re Using Your Billboard as a Direct Response Ad

We speak often on this blog about the impact direct response ads can have on your audience (and your bottom line), but billboards shouldn’t be used for that. Billboard ads are about creating interest and brand-building, but they should never be expected to do the heavy lifting. Save that for your print and TV ads. With this in mind, don’t cover your billboards with 1-800 numbers and website addresses. The only exception to this rule is if your website address or phone number is your main message/headline.

  1. You’re Being Cute and Clever

An uninspired billboard won’t get attention. A smart billboard, on the other hand, will grab attention and make a lasting impression. But a billboard that’s trying too hard to be clever or cute will get nothing but eye rolls or completely ignored.

Advertising is not about being clever or smarter than your audience, it’s about simple, clear and direct messaging.

  1. You Believe Less is More

Billboards are kind of like potato chips: eating one is okay, but eating more is better. Billboards are a mass market medium that require support.

Before making your buy, be sure to inquire about the billboard’s Gross Ratings Point (GRP). This number is based on traffic, visibility, location, size and so on. So if your billboard’s score is 50%, that means that roughly 50% of the populations in your local area would see your billboard each day. Having one billboard is okay, but having more billboards around town will get you as close to a 100% showing as possible.

  1. You Didn’t Test Your Ad First

All billboard ad campaigns look brilliant on a 27” monitor, but are you sure that information will translate and be seen and understood once it’s up on that board? It’s important to put each and every one of your ads up to the “Arm’s Length Test.” Here’s how you do it:

Print your ad to the size of a business card. Now hold it out at arm’s length. Does it hold up? Does it still have the same impact it did when it was on your big ol’ monitor? If yes, great. If no, time to refine your message until it can pass this test with flying colors. Remember, your message has got to pop, and you only have about 5 seconds to make an impression on motorists and pedestrians.

If you stop (or never start) making these 5 common billboard mistakes, you should begin to see amgreater impact on your audience and a better ROI.

Topics: advertising, advertising strategy, billboard