Wherever you live, you don’t have to go very far to come across a billboard. Whether it’s the latest movie, a popular clothing store or the newest addition to the gadget world, there’s always something different being advertised by the side of the road.

Billboards are most commonly found in locations with a high level of traffic, such as busy high streets or motorways. Some smaller billboards can be found on quieter streets, but usually advertise local products or issues which residents might be interested in. Politicians often use small billboards as part of their campaign during election time, while companies such as Apple or H&M choose to advertise along much busier roads and on much larger billboards.

Billboard Advertising in the UK

All around the UK, you can see billboards and advertising space. Whether it’s at the bus stop, in the train station or on the side of a building or phone box, we discover new products and services largely through outdoor advertising. Local businesses in the UK often advertise in nearby locations in order to target people who live close by, or they may have a billboard which directs road users and pedestrians to their shop or store.

Billboard advertising spaces are owned by companies such as Clear Channel. These companies manage the advertising spaces and charge fees for other businesses to advertise their products and services on them. Clear Channel is then responsible for putting up the adverts and taking them down when the time is up. The business which is advertising only needs to pay the fee and then send the advertisement to be put onto the billboard.

Different Types of Billboards

The classic billboard is the one which is most commonly seen, and adverts are put up and taken down as the space is rented by different businesses. They come in various sizes, but are usually around 36-48 feet wide and 10-15 feet tall. Vinyl billboards are the same style and size as classic billboards, but appear brighter and are covered in UV defensive paint to preserve them.

Mobile billboards are a good option if you have either a business which regularly changes location or a business which has chains around the country. These types of billboards appear at large events or occasions, such as festivals or fun days. Your business might not benefit from long-term billboard advertising by the side of a road, but when targeted to the right audience, it could bring a lot of new customers.

Other types of billboards which are designed to capture the attention of onlookers include painted billboards and 3D billboards.

Digital billboards have become increasingly popular in recent years for several reasons. They are more difficult to damage or deface, and they can change every few seconds to display a new advert. This means that more businesses can advertise in the same space. Digital billboards can also appear more polished and professional, and due to the fact that moving images can be displayed on them, they attract a lot of attention.

The Advantages of Billboard Advertising

  • The most obvious advantage of billboard advertising is the fact that billboards are so visible and therefore can be seen by many people. If people are driving along a busy road, they can’t help but see the large advertisements which are on display. Unlike TV and magazine adverts, it’s impossible to simply turn the pages or change the channel to avoid the advertisements.
  • You can advertise on billboards in specific locations, making it a lot easier to reach your target audience. If you’re advertising health products, look for space near a doctor’s surgery or clinic. If you’re trying to sell clothing, choose spaces near to shopping centres or outlet stores.
  • Billboard advertising is also less costly than many businesses are led to believe, with a 48-sheet billboard costing around £200 per week. For a small or medium-sized business, this could quite easily fit into a short-term advertising budget.

Disadvantages of Billboard Advertising

  • One of the reasons a lot of businesses choose not to advertise on billboards is because the adverts often need to be limited. When people are driving past the billboards, they don’t have time to read lots of words or complicated sentences, so the adverts are only effective if they are brief, clever and appealing. For many businesses, it’s tough to fit their advert around such limitations. Getting the balance between giving enough information but not too much can be difficult when it comes to billboard advertising.
  • Many billboard advertising companies require their clients to sign into long-term contracts in order to advertise in their space, and for many businesses, the cost and commitment of this simply isn’t feasible. While there are short-term contracts available, it’s a big advertising decision for many companies. Most billboard adverts last around three months, and for businesses which constantly change their products, services and offers, paying for advertising for several months isn’t cost-effective.

What Makes a Good Billboard Advert?

In order to catch the attention of people passing by, a billboard advert must have appealing colours, text and pictures. While not all adverts have all three of these things, most of them do. An advert can be effective with text only, and depending on the message you’re trying to convey, it could be even more effective than using fancy and colourful images.

When thinking of text for your billboard advert, it is recommended that you use no more than six or seven words. On average, people read a billboard advertisement for six seconds or less, so putting too many words on your advert means that viewers can’t take in so much information in such a short space of time. If your advert is going to be placed somewhere which has a lot of pedestrians, you can get away with using slightly more. However, if people are mainly driving past in cars, particularly on motorways or dual carriageways, you should strictly limit the amount of words you use.

It’s important to keep it simple. People are passing by quickly and you need to give a message which is very easy for the brain to comprehend and remember. While other methods of advertising can be challenging, puzzling and witty, try to keep your billboard adverts at a level which everybody can quickly understand.