Getting the Most Out of a Digital Billboard Ad

Neil Bell is a Principal at New South Outdoor which has 14 digital billboards in Auburn and Montgomery, Alabama.

By Neil Bell, Principal, New South Outdoor.

90% of  Advertisers aren’t using digital outdoor right… and it’s our fault.

After operating digital displays for the last 10 years, I can honestly say that this is generally the case. Local advertisers are not using digital outdoor the right way because we, as operators, are not doing a good job of insisting that they do. I have been guilty of it for the sake of “getting it posted”. I see it on other operator’s digital boards, as well.

We fail our advertisers when we don’t actively push them to use digital’s full potential.  Advertisers should day-part, use dynamic and conditional content and change ads regularly. Relevant advertising = effective advertising. If we are going to give our customers a good ROI on their advertising investment, we owe it to them to help them use it correctly.

One of New South’s 14 digital billboards.

Let me give an example where I have seen this breakdown happen recently.

We sold a local restaurant on a digital bulletin down the street from their location. They wanted to a simple directional on the board saying that they are located ahead on left. We discussed the features that were available with them when we began working on art, but they wanted to get it going with the directional immediately…and then work on additional art later. We also wanted to get them up on the board quickly because that is our job – to fill the empty space. Every day a slot is not filled is time lost.

Throughout the run, we were in contact with them fairly regularly, but we never really pushed them to run more diverse content. They ran through their 12-week contract with the same ad, never rotating specials, never changing a photo or day-parting their ads.

Not surprisingly, this customer did not renew at the end of the 12 weeks. They said that they got a noticeable amount of new foot traffic for the first weeks following the sign being posted, but traffic had not increased overall.

I believe if we had worked together to plan a marketing schedule of specials or rotate copy, they would have seen a better return. Promoting new menu items or lunch specials could have attracted additional customers every day.  I also believe they probably would have extended their advertising agreement. If they were going to run that same message for the entire term, they should have bought a static sign down the street and been visible 24/7!

It is our job to educate our customers on what our products can do and why they need to use them to their full potential. They look to us as the expert and they rely on us to make their advertising efforts successful. It is often more time consuming, requires more effort and can extend the time from closing the sale to actually posting. However, in the long run, it is best for the advertiser – which means repeat business for the billboard operator.

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