This Old-School Type of Advertising Is Surprisingly Stronger than Ever

Date: September 07, 2016

Out-of-home advertising has grown consistently over the past 24 quarters, which means small businesses can use some old methods for new sales.

A roadside highway. A bus station shelter. Times Square. It’s pretty hard to travel anywhere and not see a digital or concrete billboard sign looming over you. 

The approach for businesses is booming: Spending on out-of-home advertising has risen for 24 consecutive quarters. In fact, spending came in at $7.3 billion in 2015, compared to $5.9 billion in 2009—a 24 percent uptick. 


Billboards can be costly, though, and prices range depending on the city or area. For example, in Boston, bulletins range from $11,000 to $23,000 per four weeks, compared to Milwaukee, where bulletins range from $3,000 to $4,000 per four weeks. These amounts exclude art and setup, which starts at around $1,000. 

Despite the cost, billboards guarantee visual placement and can leave a lasting impression, which can be extremely beneficial for small businesses. Just look at San Francisco, where engineer Isis Anchalee trended the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer after she received sexist comments over advertisements of her company, OneLogin, which were posted in Bay Area Rapid Transit stations. The hashtag inspired its own set of billboards placed above highways and in BART stations, and although they’ve since been taken down, the movement is still being discussed even a year later. 

Placing local billboards can also help small businesses form community partnerships. Local alliances can help small businesses get their billboards placed in prominent areas, like at established chains or independent stores. And because 70 percent of purchasing decisions are made while shopping or in-store, a billboard’s location can make all the difference.

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