What's on Tap...
A brew of marketing and advertising news for your insatiable knowledge palette

Traditional VS Digital Billboards – Which is Better?

By Jenna Bruce on Mon, Jan 28, 2019 @ 10:00 AM |


Last week I talked about the benefits of billboard advertising for small business owners. While many advertisers continue to focus their attention and budgets on online channels, out-of-home (OOH) sector continues to see consistent growth around the globe. In fact, the OOH sector has seen its revenues increase by nearly 30% in recent years.

But which is better, traditional or digital billboard advertising? Perhaps the word “better” doesn’t really fit. What we can say is that each offers its own unique benefits and one may be better for your particular situation over the other.

In this post I’ll compare the two options so you can determine which one is right for your business. Let’s look at some of the biggest considerations.

Tokyo, Japan cityscape at Shibuya Ward during at twilight.


Billboard advertising is a great way for SMEs to build brand awareness in their local area, and it’s a lot cheaper than TV advertising. But digital and traditional billboards offer different benefits.

For example, digital billboards have a way of grabbing attention thanks to the lights, colors and moving images. But when you advertise on a digital billboard, you will be sharing screen time with as many as five other brands.

As a result, your ad may only get 10 seconds of air time per minute and will have to compete with other brands, some of whom may be more recognizable than your own. This is obviously not ideal if you are looking to build brand awareness.

Traditional billboards, on the other hand, are exclusive. Your ad is the only one up there for a given amount of time. This means SMEs can achieve maximum exposure within their targeted location.


And speaking of location…

For any billboard campaign to be successful, your ads will need to be placed in high-traffic areas that optimize your reach. Of course, the denser the traffic the higher the cost – but I’ll get to cost in a just a second.

If your campaign’s goal is to build brand awareness among a mass market, then digital billboards are your best bet, because these are usually placed on areas around towns and cities that get the highest levels of footfall and so deliver the highest number of impressions.

But you may have a completely different goal for your campaign. For instance, you may need to advertise a brand-new product line or want to try your message on a new demographic. When you need to really target those impressions, traditional billboards in specific locations is often a better way to go.


Okay, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and discuss cost, as that is most likely going to be one of your biggest considerations in choosing which billboard option to go with. I’ll tell you right off the bat there can be a marked difference in price between traditional and digital.

Traditional billboards can cost between $250-$550/month in rural areas and between $1,500 – $4,000/month in small to mid-size cities. Digital billboards generally start at around $3000/month in smaller cities and can go all the way up to $10,000/month in major metropolitan areas.

As you can see, digital is going to cost you more, and when you take into consideration the restrictions in terms of air time and brand exposure, you have to ask yourself whether you will achieve an acceptable ROI.

Traditional billboards will almost always be more cost-effective over a longer period of time, but they also have their limits. For instance, if you are testing ads, you cannot make changes to your traditional billboard ad, but CAN make quick and easy changes to your digital billboard ads.

Final Thoughts

Traditional and Digital billboard ads are both effective channels for SMEs, but there are considerations you should make before deciding which is right for you. Ultimately you must know what your main objective is: brand awareness to the masses or targeted campaigns. Take some time to think what you need your billboard ad to do before signing on any dotted lines.

Need some help making a decision? Get in touch with us. We help SMEs get the biggest ROI for each and every campaign.


integrated marketing plan outdoor advertising out-of-home advertising billboard ooh