Bill Ripp on Digital Billboard Siting Mistakes

Lamar’s Bill Ripp has installed over 2,500 digital displays across a 14 year span.  At Lookout2017 Ripp said that even though Lamar has gotten quite good siting digital billboards, he still has to relocate some every year due to a lack of financial performance.  Insider talked with Ripp about why digital billboards fail.

Bill what are the reasons why digital billboards fail? 

  • The number one reason we need to reposition digitals is a mistaken belief that if one digital face is good, two will be better. There’s a tendency to want to put two digital faces on every structure.   Oftentimes it’s hard to get the permit.  Financially sometimes negotiations are tough.  Yet not every location justifies two digital faces.  In a large market, left hand reads can be harder to sell.  For local sales, a digital sign performs better with traffic moving in the direction advertiser’s want.  For example, if advertiser’s prefer inbound traffic, outbound traffic will be a harder sell.
  • Another reason is unanticipated road modifications.  Road projects take years and a fraction of the traffic goes by the board.  This creates underperformance.  A digital billboard is a perishable inventory.  It won’t last forever.  A major infrastructure spending initiative by the federal government could impact digital billboards by impacting traffic.
  • Development.  Someone builds a building in front of a digital billboard.  The billboard’s performance suffers because it is blocked.  You need to carefully review development risks when you are evaluating a new digital billboard.
  • Competition.  First-to-market digitals do very well but will inevitably attract competition which can impact the market. Three digital billboards within a mile can be a problem.  Often, It’s the middle board which suffers.  If its three boards in 5 miles you’re probably OK.

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