Thursday, April 05, 2012

4 Reasons Small Business Should Be Beware Of Billboards

Even though less than 3% of small businesses still make extensive use of outdoor billboards for advertising, many small business owners are sitting ducks when it comes to fending off this nearly obsolete medium.

This is because most small business still buy advertising based on a price point (a set dollar amount.)

But even if these businesses know to ask instead for the much more important cost per view (CPM – cost per thousand) billboard representatives aren’t likely to volunteer or even know other information which is even more critical to decisions about the use of this medium.

As a 40-year marketing veteran and small business advisor here are:

Four Reasons To Beware Of Billboard Advertising

  • Advertising on an outdoor billboard will turn off eight potential customers for every one who may find the information useful giving it a negative ratio which is unaffordable at any price point, even as a freebie. (The turn-off to turn-on ratio increases to 9 to 1 if travelers see trees have been clear-cut around the billboard.)


  • Half of potential viewers of a billboard message have already shifted access roadside information to in-vehicle navigation systems and/or portable navigation systems. (This includes nearly 6 of every 10 drivers and passengers in the lucrative consumption ages of 25-44.)four


  • This is only part of the reason that overall advertising on mobile devices will pass overall outdoor advertising within a little more than two and a half years.


  • The percentage of outdoor ad revenue derived from small business categories such as retail, amusements, casual restaurants and hotels and resorts has fallen significantly since 2001, by nearly half from the later category alone which now contributes just 4-5%.

Average spending for ads on billboards is virtually flat or even down significantly since 2001 when adjusted for inflation.

It is tragic, that at a time when it is being rapidly supplanted by navigation technology, exit logo signs and other less destructive and intrusive alternatives, the outdoor billboard industry is doing everything possible including the buying of influence to destroy much more valuable trees and vegetation along public roadsides.

Hollow are arguments that these companies are valuable taxpayers.  In my adopted hometown the average billboard contributes less than $50 or $60 a year, while the average value to the public of a single tree is worth 34% more annually at $76.26, based on scientific research.

Equally hollow is the suggestion that this about property rights.  Courts hold that any property rights of outdoor bill board owners are “parasitic” because they are solely reliant for value on traffic carried on publicly owned roadways.  The billboards are erected on private property and then officials are bullied into sacrificing publicly owned trees, many planted at public expense, in order to make them viewable.

Citing the number of jobs related to billboards as an argument is a false choice even if the small number involved were local or in-state which most aren’t.  Jobs are important but there is no reason anyone should lose a job as outdoor billboards cease to exist.

There are plenty of other types of outdoor or out-of-home advertising alternatives to which more savvy and environmentally sensitive billboard companies are transitioning and they don’t require sacrificing trees and other elements of sense of place to be viewable.

Beware of outdoor billboards!  They are much more expensive than advertised.

Sources: Federal Studies, Public Policy Poll, Billboard Trends

1 comment: said...

Excellent post!! I love it. My suggestion is to tag your car or truck. What you did for your T-shirt, you can do for your car, truck, van, SUV or even your bike. Paint or stencil your company logo and other information on your vehicle and you'll have a traveling billboard. Cheers!!~ Barbara