Do Billboards Work for Advertising an Event?

April 19 2016

Featured image via sfbeautiful.org

We currently live in a digital era, a time where at most, access to the internet is no more than a  pocket-reach away. The average person now spends more time on their electronic devices than sleeping, and more time checking emails in the morning than eating breakfast. We are literally plugged into the virtual world all the time. Digital advertising has taken off, and mobile advertising is seeing huge lifts usage and effectiveness. But with so much time and focus being spent on digital marketing, is out of home advertising effective anymore? Do people still pay attention to posters and flyers, and do billboards work for advertising?

The short answer is yes, there is still room for out of home advertising - advertising that will hit people when they are looking up from their screens. Billboards are one of the most widely known and thought of out of home advertising methods - and for good reason.

Every day when workers make their commutes to and from work, they are bombarded with billboards along the freeway telling them about promotions, changes, new store openings, and events. But how do you make a billboard effective, especially when it is promoting an event? Here are four ways to make advertising your event on a billboard effective.

 

1. Choose many, not just one billboard. 

Choosing the right locations for your billboards may be the single most important thing you can do to make your billboard effective. And yes, you read that correctly - billboards, is not a typo. A single, well placed billboard will certainly draw impressions, but drivers are focused on the road, and often tune out the billboards they pass every day to and from work. Having multiple billboards improves the likelihood that your event will get noticed.

As I was driving to work the other day, I noticed a billboard for an event taking place later this month. The next day, I saw the same sign, but then I noticed another billboard advertising the same event, and another, and another! By the time I got to work, I had counted twelve billboards for the exact same event! The day before I had only noticed one of those billboards. To effectively advertise your event, especially if it is a large event, you are going to want to use multiple billboards throughout the city to make sure your event gets seen.


2. Location, location, location.

Along with having multiple billboards advertising your event, the next step is to make sure you choose the right locations for all of them. Here are a couple things to think about when choosing the right location for your billboard.

  • What is your budget? Better location = more expensive.
  • How far apart do you want your billboards?
  • Will they be on both sides of the freeway so drivers have the optimal chance of seeing them?
  • Do you want you billboards near freeway entrances, exits, or in between?
  • What is the radius for your event advertising?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you improve your out of home advertising with billboards and make your advertising effective. As a general rule, you may want to mix and match your advertisements. You may want to buy one marquee billboard spot, and then buy a few smaller ones along the way, on both sides of the freeway.

For me, I personally noticed the billboard that was located right as I entered the on-ramp for the freeway. It caught my attention and was the only billboard around.

 

3. Simplicity.

Make your billboard simple. I have noticed that billboards that utilize white space and have very little going on them are easiest to read and remember. You don’t want to overwhelm drivers and overload them with too much information. In fact, you don’t have to, and shouldn’t list all the information for your event. Pick one thing that will get people to remember your event and go with that.

The billboard that I saw showed one image, had the event name, and a short tag line. That was it. I was able to go home, google the event name, and find what it was all about. The billboard did exactly what it was supposed to do. It got me to go to the event website and find out more there.

Remember, as people are driving on the freeway, they often drive solo, meaning that commuters can’t pull out their phone on the spot and look up your website because they have to pay attention to the road. If you can get them to remember your event name, you win. Refrain from adding too much information onto the billboard. You will see better results.

 

4. Include a call to action. 

Effective billboards and landing pages have a lot in common. While one is out of home advertising and the other digital - billboards should accomplish a lot of the same purpose as landing pages. They should lead the viewer to complete action.

You can have a couple of different approaches depending on what you want the viewer to do. If you want those who view your billboard to attend your event, you can make your billboard informative with time, date, and location listed.

If you want people to view your website, make sure your billboard leaves your viewers intrigued. Try to raise curiosity and leave people wanting to find out more. People are curious and don’t like being left in the dark. They like some sort of answer to their curiosity. This was done well by the advertisers for the movie Cloverfield back in 2008. They showed a picture of a damaged Statue of Liberty and smoke and fire coming out of New York City. People immediately want to know what happened and what caused it. The billboard didn’t have to say anything else besides a date for the movie release.

If your goal is to get people to your website, you have to make sure it is the first result on Google, and you have to make your landing page compelling. Your billboard may be effective and get people to your website, but if your website isn’t compelling, you will lose out on ticket sales.
 


If you follow these hacks, your billboard will effectively capture attention and lead people to your website or event. While digital marketing makes advertising sharable online, out of home advertising through billboards captures the attention of commuters. So, do billboards work for advertising events? They worked on me.