Recently while driving down the highway I could not help but notice billboards, both digital and static lining a highly traveled roadway. As I reflected upon my journey, I asked myself, why are some advertisers choosing digital billboards over a static unit?
Digital OOH is all the rage, and for good reason…it’s fast, easy, creatively cost effective and flexible from a timing perspective.
Did you know that digital billboards typically run as a loop of six ads that are displayed for ten seconds each? These boards use hundreds of light-emitting diodes (LED's) to create an image. The images are controlled and scheduled by a computer which can happen in a matter of seconds. The technology is a major advantage for users of digital billboards. Immediacy of message is a clear benefit of digital units. For example, an unexpected sunny day--Let’s tell the world to visit the local car dealership to buy a convertible. A big win by the local team! Shout it from the tree top!. A new promotional message? Change the digital creative in a matter of seconds and get people to visit your store.
In comparison, traditional static billboards have comparatively long production lead times. 2-3 weeks versus minutes when it comes to receiving new digital creative materials and scheduling the new message. Additionally, producing static materials can be pricey depending on the size of the board. Most OOH companies have a team of employees who solely update and schedule digital ads, as well as, report any technological issues. This is a clear administrative advantage as timing and accountability are important.
With technology comes a set of potential complications. Occasionally there will be a power outage or glitches with the computer systems. It should be noted that the vendors who manage this inventory are always keeping their eyes out for complications, which are often fixed remotely.
Is old school still cool?
Traditional Fixed / Static billboards also have their advantages and disadvantages. Copy for static bulletins (typically 14’ x 48’ in size) are produced on a durable 7 oz. vinyl. While this material is made to withstand the elements, sometimes mother nature can cause complications. The sun could cause the images to fade; cold weather or wind could cause wrinkles on the vinyl, or even cause a tear. As noted above, the lead time in producing a static billboard is typically 2-3 weeks which could feel like an eternity when waiting for your message to be replaced.
However, a major advantage to static billboards is the fact that one advertiser owns the entire board. There are no loops of other advertisers and no other messages on your location. Most digital boards do not give category exclusivity, but often promise to spread out the messaging of competitors so that your message is not playing back to back with a competitor.
Old School is still cool, but New School is about to rule!
In short, there are many advantages to choosing a digital billboard. The key advantages are: little to no production fees; creative flexibility, such as dayparted or specialized messaging; and LED boards are eye-catching and colorful.
If advertisers intend to have an ad campaign that requires many different OOH copy executions, digital billboards can be a huge asset to their advertising campaign.