Bill Ripp on Digital Billboard Siting

Lamar’s Bill Ripp spoke on siting digital billboards at Lookout2017.  Ripp is VP Digital Development at Lamar Advertising.  He’s also the Chair of the OAAA Digital billboard committee.  Ripp’s had a hand at installing 2,000 digital billboards during his 18 years at Lamar.  Here are some highlights of his talk together with Insider’s comments.

How do you pick a good digital billboard site?

The same way you pick a good static billboard site.  You’re looking for sites which:

  • Are always sold out.   Insider notes that a digital billboard won’t make a bad location good.  It will just make the cost of the error greater.
  • Have a good long-term lease.  A 14 by 48 digital sign can cost more than $150,000.  Even if the sign achieves a 20% return on capital you’ll  need to have at least 5 years remaining on your lease to recover your investment.
  • Have a long approach.  A sign on a curve is good.  A sign on a hill is good.
  • Have heavy, slow commuter traffic.  Doesn’t make much sense to put a digital billboard up in a rural area where traffic drives by at 80 miles an hour.
  • Have few competitors.  This is an important point.  Insider can think of a short stretch of freeway in the Midwest which has three digital signs next to each other on a short stretch of freeway.  The digital sign in the middle is struggling.

How should you take brightness concerns into account?

Avoid locations that impact digital residents.  This means locating at least 350 feet away from the nearest residence.

Limit brightness to 0.3 foot-candles over ambient during nightime hours.

Limit brightness to 6,500 nits during the day.

If one digital face is good are two digital faces better?

Not very often.  Two digital faces on the same structure don’t usually work out.  Advertisers will favor one side over the other.  Insider routinely sees newcomers to the industry who think every sign should be a two sided digital.  Site developers also fall into this trap because they get paid more money for a digital face than they do for a static face.


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